When the final version of ISO 9001 arrived, we saw a new phrase, ‘risks and opportunities’ in clause 6.1. We have seen thousands of posts on ‘risk’, I’ve done webinars and videos on the topic and it is always a ‘hot ticket’. But what about the ‘opportunities’ side of the coin. Turns out they go ‘hand in hand’.
The value for an organization to identify areas of risk is to make sure the system can do what is supposed to do, enhance the good stuff, prevent the bad stuff and continually improve. That’s where the opportunities lie – mitigate a risk by improving a process.
During some internal auditor training at a steel recycler/rebar maker out west, I heard a great story of an opportunity coming from seeking out risks. The organization had truly developed a ‘safety culture’. They even tracked ‘near misses’. They saw quite a few near misses happening on ladders up to overhead cranes and other lofty locations.
They watched the workers climb up various ladders to see what was happening.
Turns out the workers that had to stay up there for long periods would carry a lunch pail up the ladder with one hand. This meant that they could not always maintain 3 or 4 points of contact while climbing. What happened? Near miss of slip and fall – a disaster from 40 feet up!
The company purchased an inexpensive shoulder strap for the climbers to snap their lunch pails onto. This freed both hands and ‘near misses’ stopped. Simple solution – big payback!