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5 key elements of effective Management of Change

October 11th, 2019 by Dakota Software Staff

5 key elements of effective Management of Change

Change is one of the most critical considerations when it comes to managing business processes across the modern economy, including everything from the supply chain to marketing and customer support. In terms of environment, health and safety programs specifically, in both regulated and non-regulated contexts, management of change can mean the difference between a safe, compliant workplace and employee injuries, regulatory action and disruption of core activities.

Companies that want to avoid such negative outcomes need to have a strong understanding of the management of change concept and the tools to effectively oversee and manage such efforts.

A strong MOC strategy helps keep staff and key assets safe and maintain operational continuity.

1. What is management of change and why is it important?

In the specific context of EHS concerns, management of change is commonly abbreviated to MOC. It stands as a distinct concept from a variety of other, more general change management efforts. The Washington State Department of Labor & Industries defined MOC as a best practice leveraged to make sure EHS risks are properly assessed and addressed when organizations make operational changes. Effective control is necessary to maintain and improve EHS standards and identify areas where new people, processes and assets could introduce additional risk — whether it's tied to regulatory compliance or danger to staff, equipment and facilities.

MOC is also important because it's a direct requirement of federal regulators, like the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, in certain situations. MOC is especially important when it comes to operational changes involving potentially hazardous chemicals, as part of OSHA's Process Safety Management directive. Companies have a responsibility to anticipate, recognize and mitigate the potential hazards that come along with improvements or alterations to the many processes businesses used that are tied to these substances.

Without a strong MOC process and the right tools and organizational buy-in to support it, risk management efforts can suffer. Business leaders and EHS specialists know the last thing they want to do is increase risks.That's why a comprehensive and thoughtful approach to MOC is so valuable.

2. How has MOC evolved?

It shouldn't be a surprise that the processes used to evaluate, enact and maintain visibility into business changes have themselves evolved over time. Some developments are obvious, like OSHA's requirement that companies follow a PSM program when necessary. Others are more gradual, such as companies creating more effective management processes as time goes on and organizations focused on providing compliance support creating dedicated tools to assist MOC efforts and responsibilities. Moving forward, the approach to MOC will continue to advance, with new strategies, software and technology helping companies achieve their goals.

3. What difficulties arise in MOC efforts?

MOC is dependent on the new developments and alterations to existing protocols, staffing decisions and other considerations that businesses must make as they grow and change. Some aspects of MOC can be reliably developed, implemented and reviewed over time, such as a compliant process for servicing core equipment or monitoring employee interactions with hazardous chemicals. As long as the same equipment is used over time and the same staff remain in a given role, these needs are relatively static.

However, when equipment, people or processes change, or when a company decides to expand or diversify its operations, EHS specialists and business leaders need to carefully review the proposed additions. This attention from an MOC perspective needs to be applied as potential plans are crafted through the selection of a specific strategy and when equipment and staff are involved in these tasks for the first time. Following through on regular, consistent review and assessment is the difficulty at the heart of many issues businesses experience in terms of MOC.

This is a common concern in terms of MOC, and it's an area where it's especially important to have the support of a dependable partner who can provide and enable your company's work with a proven MOC platform.

Implementing new equipment and changing workflows requires careful attention from an MOC perspective.

4. How can companies implement best practices for MOC?

There are a variety of core needs to take into account that can improve the results of MOC efforts. They include:

  • Establishing a pipeline of information about potential business changes, allowing staff focused on MOC to evaluate any major issues that could arise.
  • Recognizing that one change could lead to many others and developing the insight and organizational knowledge to track these possible ripple effects throughout the organization.
  • Consistent and thorough documentation. This includes committing the overall review process to paper as well as listing out specific actions to take when a given system or process is altered or a new one is added to the organization.
  • A comprehensive strategy for addressing the ways changes can affect staff. Offering training, additional information, support and other resources can be critical for avoiding incidents and keeping workers healthy, so this process should be a priority.
  • A workflow for updating other documentation, such as safety information shared with workers or manuals that detail the approved steps for a given process.

Businesses can enhance their efforts to create the best MOC process possible by working with a partner that provides purpose-built software designed for addressing MOC needs, as well as a variety of of other compliance-based management and auditing tools.

5. What tools available to support the MOC process?

Outside of the core responsibility for keeping employees and the communities around facilities safe, the business case for MOC is focused on avoiding regulatory penalties and accidents that halt company activities. Similarly, committing to tools that enable MOC can provide a return on investment by boosting insight and compliance, reducing the financial impact that comes with a fine, corrective action required by a regulator or delay or stoppage of work.

The right partner can provide your business with the tools necessary to stay on top of MOC, helping your organization stay organized and aware of potential needs while ensuring the right actions are taken in each instance. Dakota Software offers a range of systems that help companies address the full spectrum of EHS compliance concerns, with proven software and expert assistance on hand to maximize positive outcomes. To learn more, get in touch with us today.

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