3 Benefits of Connecting In-Field Critical Control Verification with your Risk Register

Critical control verification is an essential aspect of a mine safety management system. Without it, there is no assurance that fatality risks are effectively controlled. But how can we link in-field verification back to the risk register, and what benefits does that bring?

Most safety professionals in the mining sector have a clear sense of the value of in-field verification. That area of work takes many different forms and uses many tools. For many miners in Australia, there is still a reliance on paper-based forms for in-field verification. The findings of the activities may then be uploaded into a software package later on.

Some mining businesses have switched over to in-field verification using mobile devices and apps, but without a clear link to connect the critical control verification back to the risk register.

Each of these approaches has some advantages, but there is a third option: in-field verification using software which links and syncs the findings back to the risk register. This draws a clear line from risk register to critical controls to critical control verification.

Benefit #1: Live visibility of risk

The first and most important benefit of using this approach is the live visibility of critical controls. A mine safety management system relies on risks being identified, critical controls assigned against those risks, and the effectiveness of the critical controls verified in the field. It stands to reason that the single most important thing for a mine safety management system is to have superb visibility of all three of these factors. In reality, this is often lacking for many miners.

A good critical control management software package should give you this level of visibility. There should be a clear, visible connection between risks, controls and verification. More importantly: the metrics that are gathered in the system should clearly show how the effectiveness of controls relates to risk.

For example, using our system, we can get a dashboard overview of how our critical controls are stacking up across the business. In this screenshot, we see the critical controls across the left-hand axis, individual sites across the top, and the results from the latest critical control verification displayed in the matrix.

We can put this side by side with another dashboard view which shows our risk scenarios and their latest critical control verification findings. The blue bar chart shows the overall risk score for the risk scenario. The red chart shows the latest verification results for the critical controls associated with that risk scenario.

This gives us two key areas of insight:

  1. We can see how critical controls are working across the business. If a particular item concerns us, we can drill down directly to the data from the latest critical control verification.
  2. We can see how the performance of critical controls affects risk exposure. If we want to see which critical controls are in play, we can click on the risk scenario to navigate to the bowtie risk assessment.

This level of visibility is available from the dashboard without navigating further into RiskView. Perfect for managers who need to have confidence that critical controls are effective, and that the critical controls are reducing risk to acceptable levels. Everything connects back to the risk register.

Benefit #2: Live reporting

Another advantage of this type of system is the ability to extract live reporting on critical controls. Reporting is the bane of the safety manager’s existence, particularly if you’re working on a monthly reporting schedule and using spreadsheets for risk management. The reporting from a mine safety management system should be an exercise in risk intelligence, not an ongoing burden.

Using a critical control management software package, we can pull real-time reporting from the system. The critical control verification work is actually performed using mobile devices or tablets in the field (desktop auditing is also available). The verification work can be completed without an internet connection if mobile signal is a problem.

Risk-assurance-mobile

When the audit team syncs up their data from the verification, the data immediately syncs up with the dashboard and reporting modules. There’s also an optional feature to have the control effectiveness dynamically updated based on verification findings.

What this means is that the reporting coming out of RiskView is based on the latest data coming in from the field.

Because the risk register is connected to the critical controls and the in-field verification, live reporting on the health of the system is achievable. The latest risk rankings from the register can reflect the latest control effectiveness ratings. This makes it much easier to identify trends in risk or control effectiveness on a month-to-month basis.

The monthly report run is a much easier task, and includes the very latest data that is available. RiskView can be configured to produce the type of reporting required within different mine safety management systems. No time or effort is wasted chasing up data for the reporting period.

Benefit #3: Time & productivity savings

Connecting the risk register, critical controls and in-field verification also brings significant time savings. The mine safety management system for a particular enterprise relies on all this data being brought together. This is a resource-intensive exercise unless you’re using a platform that brings everything together.

Our software, for example, provides the in-field verification capability for mobile devices and tablets. The audit team can actually directly view the critical controls and risk assessments that the verification relates to. The team enters their findings in the field, and the system syncs the data. No need for separate data entry or migration.

As mentioned above, there are also time savings in the reporting on verification activity. Critical control verification work is connected to the critical controls and risk register. The system will automatically produce reporting on how the verification activities impact on critical control effectiveness and the risk register. No need for manual report creation from different sources.

Connecting the risk register, critical controls and in-field verification also produces ongoing time savings back in the risk assessment stage. Using a single platform promotes a standardised approach to risk. There is common terminology, common critical controls. There’s also a wealth of in-field verification data to support assumptions about control effectiveness.

This allows the safety team to work through new risk assessments in less time. Armed with standard terminology, known critical controls, and in-field verification findings, risks can be assessed more accurately in less time.

How it works

Overall this paints a pretty clear picture about the merits of connecting in-field verification back to the risk register. When everything is linked, we can automate more of the things we’d otherwise have to do manually.

It also maximises the value derived from in-field verification. The purpose of critical control verification is to provide actionable intelligence on control effectiveness: i.e. we should get assurance that the controls are working well to reduce risk, or we should get a clear indication of where controls are not working well to reduce risk. Either way, we should be able to confidently make decisions about what we do from there.

If in-field verification isn’t linked back to the risk register and the critical controls in a meaningful way, it is difficult to get the most benefit from verification work. We might get a sense of whether controls are in place and effective: but we don’t know how this impacts on our risk exposure unless we go back as a manual exercise and re-assess the risk. Linking critical control verification back to the risk register should allow us to easily trace control effectiveness back to its impact on risk exposure.

This is particularly important during challenging economic times: with fewer resources to spare for safety, it makes sense to adopt solutions that reduce the effort needed while maintaining or improving the quality of outputs. A platform that links verification back to the risk register is a good example of how this can work.

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