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Prioritizing Your Risk Effort When Overloaded With Action Items

Written by Risk Alive

September 10, 2020

You’re reviewing the list of action items your company is working through and can’t believe the sheer number! Some of your facilities have been operating for decades, how can there be so many action items from days, months, or even years ago? The amount of activity driven by PHA findings, audits and incident investigations, site safety tours and equipment inspection reports is astonishing and many companies struggle to make real progress on them. The hardest and most overwhelming part, of course, is prioritization and determining where to begin.

The reality of the situation is that there are real risks behind all these actions and until they are resolved, those risks are present in your facilities. The cause of many incidents comes back to unresolved recommendations. Some of those risks are greater than others. Some may not require resolution at all. There could even be overlapping recommendations that address the same risk. With these possibilities top of mind, in some cases it can be very challenging to differentiate these recommendations.

 If there’s an incident and the regulator finds that recommendations existed to resolve the scenario that occurred, it can be tough to prove you did the right thing and that you acted as fast as reasonably possible given the threat. If you have actions that have been outstanding long enough, certain regulators will actually fine your company for not acting quickly enough. Defending a decision not to implement an action item after there have been serious injuries or loss of life could be an arduous task in many perspectives.

“Plans are only good intentions unless they immediately degenerate into hard work.”

– Peter Drucker

There are often low value recommendations that appear necessary based on a risk assessment or the process of generating them, however when further analyzed, they aren’t as critical as they originally appeared.

If an action doesn’t reduce risks beyond a tolerable level, they often aren’t worth the investment to resolve. But this is impossible to see without the benefit of advanced analysis tools. In a recent case study with a Risk Alive® client who had 500 action items outstanding, it was found that nearly 60% of them were of questionable value to the organization!

Focusing your time and resources on the actions that reduce the greatest amount of risk is the obvious key. The challenge comes in finding these high value recommendations and validating their true necessity. Based on Risk Alive® findings and client evaluations, the ones that can be eliminated are rarely obvious, but can be found with innovative technology to analyze them.

What Can You Ask to Prioritize your Critical Actions, Reduce Risk and Eliminate low/ no value actions?

  1. Do you have a consolidated action tracking system in place?
  2. How many actions do we have as a company in total?
  3. What types of risk do these actions address?
  4. Are there other barriers mitigating that risk or are we unprotected without this recommendation?
  5. What are our priorities and which are most important?
  6. Are they all adding value or are some of these not required?
  7. Do you have a system in place for risk ranking and perform criticality analyses on the recommendations? 

Risk Management is Serious Business 

In January, 2010 there was a fatal incident at DuPont’s facility in Belle, WV, where a hose failure resulted in the exposure and death of a worker in the plant. In the CSB’s investigation it was found that there had been a recommendation in a PHA study to replace the hose with higher integrity equipment. The action was not completed, and this evidence did not reflect well in the investigation finding.

Do you have outstanding action items?

What’s your biggest challenge in prioritizing recommendations to implement?

Drop a comment below or connect with us to get started using Risk Alive® Analytics to help you and your team take action! 




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