Critical Control Management (CCM): Is chronic unease healthy?

Critical Control Management Critical Risk Management Safety Culture

Is Chronic Unease Healthy?

Having a healthy level of chronic unease can help identify weak danger signals, reduce complacency and improve alertness. Just because a catastrophic event hasn’t happened, doesn’t mean it won’t!

Positive reinforcement of reporting near miss events, acting on weak danger signals and freely communicating good and bad news are all signs of a healthy culture. Examples of weak danger signals could include:

  • Unexpected maintenance results
  • Variations from good practice that has become tolerated
  • Noticing a colleague is distracted while carrying out a critical process
  • A decision to carry on that we think was made too quickly.

Critical Control Management (CCM)

Critical Control Management (CCM) is an internationally recognised approach1 for organisations to improve the management of potentially fatal and Major Unwanted Events (MUE). In particular, enabling organisation to ensure critical controls are effective.

Clownfish vs Sharks?

What’s an underwater diver’s biggest threat – Hundreds of clownfish or one great white shark attack?

Similarly, CCM focuses on Major Unwanted Events (Shark attack), rather than higher frequency events, that might have a lower consequence (Clownfish)!

Key Elements of Critical Control Management

Industry-leading CCM should include the following:

  1. Major Hazards: An overall approach for mapping major hazards and managing major unwanted events (MUE)
  2. Critical Control Identification: Risk analysis, carefully selected and challenged list of specific critical controls that are crucial, measurable, and ideally indicative of the risk of major unwanted events 
  3. Building Capability: Performance standards should set clear expectations and building the right capability to support the approach
  4. Verification: Assurance critical controls are not only available, but also effective
  5. Performance Measurement: Timely performance reporting on critical control effectiveness and ideally provide an indication of any changes to the risk of major unwanted events occurring.

Industry-leading CCM should provide the following outcomes:

To enable effective CCM outcomes, focus on:

  • Finding the missing controls that are needed, making note of the ones already in place, e.g., act, objects or systems.
  • Identifying which of those controls are critical, and
  • Enabling supervisors and managers to be able to monitor those critical controls effectively

So, what does the CRM process look like?

Here is a simplified process based on the ICMM’s ‘Critical Control Management: Good practice guide’.

To determine how effective your critical control verification activity is, it requires  understanding the right mix of acts, objects and systems. At FEFO Consulting, we believe this means focusing on the critical few by asking questions like: 

  • Are your metrics driving the right behaviour?
  • Are you overly reliant on injury statistics?
  • Are you focused on quantity, rather than quality of controls?
  • Do your operations have a healthy level of chronic unease?

Additional resources can be found by viewing our case studies from BSA and JLL success stories.

If you’re looking to understand how you can effectively verify your own critical controls, have meaningful conversations about safety to prevent major unwanted events and enable improvements in your organisation, contact us today to see how we can help. 

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