Sep 20, 2022

Close, But Not Compliant

hands over workspace two people discussing compliance

    Close, But Not Compliant

    Being close to compliance is not the same as being fully compliant. By asking the right questions, business owners can determine if their organization is in need of a near-compliance assessment.


    Have you heard the phrase “almost only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades?” Well, the same can be said regarding safety compliance in the workplace.

    Being close to compliant is not the same as being compliant. If a particular job requires employees to wear safety glasses, they should be covering their eyes, not resting on top of their head.

    If a piece of machinery states its limit is 110 psi, it should not be operated at 120. These scenarios are called “near compliance” and they tend to lead to increased exposures and incidents.


    Approaching Compliance Issues

    While one problem with near compliance is its ability to create the opportunity for injury, another issue is the common hard stance reaction that takes place after an incident.

    Supervisors generally have a “snap back” or “slap back” approach to safety compliance after an incident, approaching safety rules and regulations with a renewed vigor.

    However, this level of enthusiasm is difficult to maintain and oftentimes the lax level of near compliance eventually returns.

    A better solution is to fully understand that near compliance is not considered full compliance and that you must work towards maintaining high standards at all times.


    Trading Near Compliance for Full Compliance

    There are two most common reasons that near compliance can occur in a workplace:

    1. Disagreement on the meaning of “safe” 

    It only takes one person with influence to change the meaning of “safe.” While a safety standard may be set on a piece of equipment, the first time someone says “Eh…it’s working well enough” /and nothing bad happens, that lesser level of safety is now the new norm.

    2. Overreliance on rules and regulations to address exposure 

    When a company has too many rules or overly complicated procedures employees are bound to get confused and not accurately follow the policies. Additionally, supervisors can get overwhelmed trying to enforce it all.

    To overcome near compliance, it is important for leadership to view a commitment to safety as not only a priority, but as a value in the company – allowing it to become part of its culture.


    Preventing Compliance Slippage

    Odds are, if you’re in a company of near compliance, there are two certainties:

    • Unless addressed, the level of compliance will continue to slip further and further from being safe
    • Firing an employee for falling victim to relaxed safety standards that leadership created and/or allowed is not a solution

    To determine why compliance is lessening, an assessment must be performed to determine the root cause of the slippage. Once completed, the company can then address each issue and help create a safe decision-making process.

    Asking the following questions can help determine if your organization is in need of a near-compliance assessment:

    • Is my leadership committed to the full execution of our company’s safety standards and procedures?
    • What is the risk appetite in my organization?
    • What is preventing us from adopting a culture of commitment to safety compliance?

    If you can provide honest answers to these questions, you are one step closer to becoming fully compliant.

    What "covered" should feel like.

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