Operationalising your safety case – engaging the workforce

Operationalising your safety case – engaging the workforce


The development or revision of a health, safety, security and environment (HSSE) case inevitably involves significant time and effort, with input from a wide range of people and departments. However, once the HSSE case is delivered, the opportunity to truly embed it in day-to-day operations is often missed, leaving the workforce thinking, “How do I use it and what is expected of me?”

Ideally the workforce will have been involved during the development of the case, for example participating in hazard workshops, reviewing output, etc. This approach has the benefit of avoiding ‘paper-based’ safety, so that the case reflects what is actually happening at the facility rather than what office-based people think is happening. But in practice, only a small portion of the total workforce is likely to be involved during this development stage.

The delivery of the HSSE case therefore provides the opportunity to engage with the total workforce. However, simply asking everyone to plough through reams of content is unrealistic and doomed to failure. Similarly, a handful of Powerpoint slides is unlikely to achieve any lasting effect.

The aim of ‘operationalising’ the safety case is to provide the right information to the right people in the right way. What a technician needs to be aware of, understand or work with is quite different to that of a production supervisor, which again will be different to that of an asset manager. This is the job of the ‘roll-out’ plan: to communicate the content in a clear and unambiguous way to those who need to know.


Of course, the plan can be affected by many factors including time available, budget, size of workforce, cultural and language issues, and familiarity of the workforce with HSSE concepts, not to mention corporate and business drivers. However, an effective roll-out plan will balance these issues, and look to operationalise the case in the most efficient and cost-effective manner.




The plan should be developed in close coordination with the HSSE case custodian and the training team (if required) with the overall aim of maximising awareness, understanding and knowledge of the HSSE case, targeting areas of change and improvement. There are three levels of detail, as depicted in Figure 1:

1. Raise Awareness: What is the HSSE case? What does it do?

2. Develop Understanding: How do I use it? What are my roles and responsibilities?

3. Deepen Knowledge: I know when to refer to the HSSE case and why; it helps me perform my job.

Posters, leaflets, presentations and Q&A sessions are simple and effective methods to increase awareness; safety-critical role booklets and user-friendly, targeted copies, extracts or summaries of the HSSE case are all useful tools to advance understanding.

There are also technological solutions, for the increasingly IT savvy workforce. One option is making documentation available on an intranet site, which can bring the HSSE case to life. This could range from a simple electronic file browser to a fully linked documentation suite with relevant interactive features, such as video clips, blogs, feedback opportunities, tutorials, case studies, learning from experience moments, etc. A smartphone app could even be utilised to deliver appealing content in bite-sized chunks.

At the sharp end, specific detailed changes to operating procedures (and their implications in terms of safety) may require more conventional training of affected personnel. Even here, though, there are plenty of options available, including the varied use of presentation media, role play and Game-Based Learning (see page 6).


A well-written HSSE case is an asset to an organisation, and provides a natural focal point for key safety, design and operations information relating to the facility. Given the development effort involved by all parties, it is worth wringing out every last benefit. Ultimately, this has the potential to transform the HSSE case into a living vehicle for safe operations.

This article fisrt appeared in RISKworld Issue 29

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Operationalising your safety case – engaging the workforce