It has long been acknowledged that when not properly evaluated and controlled, changes to physical equipment in a facility can lead to serious incidents with potentially severe consequences. Management of Change (MOC) systems, replete with a variety of electronic systems, flow charts, and checklists, have been developed by a number of reliable organizations throughout the world to manage these physical changes. It is less commonly recognized that other types of changes such as changes in job responsibilities, loss of key personnel, or even changes in shift hours can have an adverse impact on process safety. These and other non-physical changes, collectively referred to as Organizational Changes, can lead to serious incidents with potentially severe consequences. Due to their focus on managing physical changes, most MOC systems have overlooked or only superficially address Organizational Change Management (OCM) and the impact of organizational changes that affect process safety.
Organizational change is an unavoidable aspect of doing business. There is a large variety of changes which fit under this umbrella of organizational change. Any of these types of changes could result in catastrophic consequences if the changes are not successfully administered. Effective OCM procedures must include a system for managing potential modifications to a variety of organizational aspects.
OCM should encompass a variety of types of changes within an organization. Some of the types of changes to consider include the following:
Most companies that handle hazardous materials have a Management of Change (MOC) program that addresses changes to equipment, facilities, and procedures. Some have included organizational changes in their existing MOC procedures or in a separate procedure. However, organizational changes, whether large or small can have less obvious but equally serious impacts on an organization’s process safety performance. In many instances, it may take months or even years to realize the impact on process safety resulting from an organizational change. In some cases the impact has only been identified after a serious incident. Therefore it is important that these changes be reviewed to assess their impact on process safety.
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