The challenges of safety for a business

The challenges of safety for a business

Safety is a key issue in the energy sector, but not only there. It has become a major challenge for all businesses. Nicolas Toledo, manager of Human and Organisational Safety Factors at Icsi (Institute for an Industrial Safety Culture) shares his perspective.

Express biography

Nicolas Toledo is a graduate of the Executive Mastère, specialising as an Organisations Manager. He was an officer in the judicial police, leading inquiries into major accidents and/or criminal incidents. His specialism is Human and Organisational Factors (HOF) and he is involved in safety culture training and diagnostics, working alongside the Icsi advisory and support team.

Nicolas Toledo

Why is safety, in its broadest sense, a greater challenge for businesses now than ever before? Is it linked to a global culture of mistrust?

Nicolas Toledo – Issues to do with safety and controlling risks continue to be important because they have a direct impact on the sustainability of a business. An accident can have a potential impact on the environment, population, a region… Not to mention the job, the name of the company concerned and its business activities.

In a world of extreme media coverage, the slightest accident can have repercussions internally, and even more externally. The technical complexity, the corporate and social stakes, development needs, the challenges facing the regions are without a doubt much more important these days. That forces you to adopt a global approach: progress on safety matters must come from every actor within a business, and for them acquiring and developing a safety culture is a priority.

Safety, in the broadest sense of the term, is also a means of learning about your organisation, finding a consensus.

On that subject, what is meant by a “safety culture”? What does it involve, and who, within a business, does it affect?

N. T. – A culture is a set of ways of thinking and acting that is shared by a group of people. As such, businesses each develop their own culture, what we refer to as an organisational culture. You can no longer see it as being in a “bubble”, separate from the company’s other challenges. Quite the opposite.

Safety is one of the things a business takes into account when making a judgement; organisational culture has an influence on behaviour and practices. You need to see safety as an essential stage in the business process. So a safety culture translates into everyone acting appropriately, so that it becomes more like part of their DNA.

What is your perception of the three main areas of safety: personal safety, industrial safety and security/cybersecurity? Have they all reached the same level of maturity?

N. T. – It is difficult to give an overall assessment. Each of the areas has a different history, different considerations, and so on. This is all the more true when it comes to cybersecurity, which is quite a “young” area. Historically, industry has worked on the technical side of safety and security, but it has moved on since then to look at the managerial side too. Today, industry acknowledges that there are other factors, certainly more difficult to work on, but also offering potential for significant progress. Especially since logic dictates it will help improve other parts of the company’s activities: quality, productivity, quality of working life, etc., and that should help this issue to be embraced more widely within business.

Industry also understands that it requires a paradigm shift, it demands a high level of commitment and motivation at all levels. And you need to accept that results will only emerge over the longer term, not straight away.

How long is it since Icsi and Teréga established their partnership, and why?

N. T. – We started just over ten years ago. What drove this partnership was the company’s desire to improve its performance, going beyond the so-called “traditional” methods and adopting alternative approaches. Icsi works by considering the business + safety together, reconciling efficiency and sustainability, and creating a real shared culture. That does not mean you should give up on the traditional approaches to safety awareness. But in companies like Teréga, which have already reached a high level of maturity when it comes to safety, there can be more room for manoeuvre to instil a real efficient and practical safety culture. Added to which, our relationship with Teréga is built on a support process. In no way is it about us taking the place of actors within the company.

How does this partnership work out, in practical terms?

N. T. – The most important thing is communicating and sharing. That can be established at a number of levels: knowing what actually happens in the company, its practices, benchmarking, analysis, formalising and putting forward best practice. That means Teréga has
an active part to play in Icsi’s monitoring process, so it can share its successes, but also its difficulties. We set up working groups of which Teréga is a part, allowing us to produce industrial safety specifications and to enhance the knowledge of those in the industry. In addition, we have developed teaching tools through our Safety Academy to help in the work of spreading the safety culture. Training modules have been introduced at Teréga looking at
organisational factors and leadership on safety matters. Our priority is first and foremost to be a catalyst for safety to be considered across the board.

What is the Safety Academy?

It has a range of a hundred or so digital resources in French, English and Spanish, dedicated to safety culture. As an information tool, it has also been designed to improve the delivery of face-to-face training.

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Explore our teaching resource reZolutions dedicated to the subject; deepen your understanding of the safety challenges for an industrial company such as Teréga.

reZolutions Sécurité(s)