Harriman Oyofo: The Game of Personal and Group Responsibility
29-10-2015 12:32:00 | by: Andrea Ayemoba | hits: 6197 | Tags:

Responsibility is not just a word. It isn’t supposed to be but in workplaces around the globe, quite a number of people don’t seem to want to know any different. Or how do you explain the recurrence of avoidable errors in most industrial premises, factories, construction and other work sites?

Little things

It is the little things that people overlook which account for the greater losses at the end of the day. Oftentimes, we expect that the ‘BIG’ problems are it, and we expect they are meant for someone else further up the line to take care of. We forget to reckon with the fact that put together, the everyday routine, ‘insignificant’ errors and violations are by far heavier in reach and impact than that one big bang’ of an occurrence which may never happen. These so-called insignificant events are responsible for most of business losses even though most business owners may not know it because they, more often than not, are looking in the wrong places for the cause or causes of their woes.

Top events

Top events like huge infernos in high-rise buildings, petroleum storage tank and pipeline fires/explosions, and other cataclysmal occurrences are usually few and far between but are also a further manifestation of the fact seemingly insignificant operational errors, non-compliance and other oversights are steadily allowed to become an acceptable part of ‘normal routine’ by management. Risk management tools and techniques like facility technical audits, hazard and operability studies (HAZOPs), process safety audits (PSAs) and so on, which are designed to address major business safety issues and concerns have their place but nothing beats looking to fix the constant drip, drip losses of the everyday workplace.

Small fries

Small fries they may be but they, together, pack a devastating cumulative knockout punch for your bottom line. And stopping them from occurring is such an elusive task because they are seen as not such a big deal after all. I mean, what’s dropping the greasing can so long as you can clean up the spot later? C’mon guys don’t be so picky! Or is this place no longer a repair shop?

Unfortunately that’s where the slip lies.

Correctly interpret own roles and responsibility

If we were all to be at home with the import of personal responsibility, then controlling or preventing these insignificant but loss-laden events should have been a piece of cake. If only every person in the workplace were able to interpret or decode their assigned roles and responsibilities correctly, life would be a lot easier all round. It should have been easy for us to figure out what the system expects of us whether it is to do with incident reporting, organising workplace communication, and evaluating hazards before, during and/or after the work.

It should have been easy for us to determine that taking control and curtailing the everyday minor occurrences will culminate in controlling the major and often, earth-quaking events and occurrences. If we picture negative occurrences like a triangle, the picture ought to be clearer. Put the top events at the apex, the not so serious in the middle with the minor ones at the base, then it comes out clearly that if we were to succeed in sorting out the base, the apex will pose no problem as it will eventually disappear.  

Harriman Oyofo is CEO, Mann Associates Ltd., Nigeria. 


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