The eighteenth agency in the community is the Quality, Health, Safety, and Environment (QHSE) Agency. The agency’s primary objective is to empower community participants with the knowledge and skills needed to perform their social and economic engagements in a way that safeguards their health and safety and conserves the environment.[1]

This also includes ensuring that the products produced and consumed within the community are of acceptable quality. The QHSE Agency emphasizes training as one of the most effective means through which this can be achieved.[2]  

The QHSE Agency is part of the Data Bureau, which includes the Data and Accounting Agencies. The three agencies are concerned with ways through which they can collect and synthesize information to enable other community agencies and participants to fulfill their own objectives. The QHSE Agency focuses on collecting and processing information related to QHSE and using it to guide QHSE policy-making discourse.[3] The QHSE Agency uses the information collected from the community, as well as its own research of reports, which serve as the basis for formulating community policies on quality, environmental conservation, and health. The agency performs its roles through an automated system, which carries its training modules on the community intranet, while also carrying out other means of communicating to participants, for instance through automated social media engagements.[4] The participant-centered system may sometimes be unable to meet a specific participant’s needs. In such instances, the participant approaches the agency’s departmental agents, who are able to offer direct help. The departmental agents also advice the agency president on what needs changing in the automated system, to make it better equipped in handling diverse participants’ issues.

The roles of the QHSE Agency are performed by the agency either independently or in coordination with other agencies in the community. The automated roles are participant-based, meaning that they are actually performed by the participants and are focused on the participant, with the agency only acting to facilitate the process by setting up and managing the systems through which this engagement takes place. Besides training, QHSE is also concerned with compliance and capacity building, by initiating measures that help participants be more capable and proactive in meeting QHSE standards.[5]

Core Responsibilities

The core responsibilities of the QHSE Agency are centered on coordinating the community’s efforts towards environmental conservation, safety, and health as part of its business and social activities, through training and facilitating the formulation and implementation of quality and safety standards. Among others, its core responsibilities are:

  • Setting up training mechanisms and systems to enable participants to train for QHSE
  • Facilitating discourse which results in the creation of standards of safety, quality, environmental management, and health, and ensuring their implementation
  • Setting up compliance systems to guide participants’ businesses and external suppliers where applicable; working towards standards harmonization

Training

The QHSE Agency sets up mechanisms through which it can share training-related material with participants. All participants are encouraged to go through all the prescribed modules in order to ensure competency in dealing with QHSE-related issues.[6] The systems are set up in a way that ensures accessibility to information and ease of understanding. Since material to be covered is extensive, covering subjects as diverse as workplace safety for diverse trades and environmental issues that people of a particular industry need to consider, the agency employs advanced algorithms that enable information to be appropriate for the specific user.[7] The Data Department’s agents, as part of their responsibilities to the QHSE Agency, may from time to time personally engage participants to assess learning outcomes, as well as areas in which training needs to be adjusted to meet community and individual participants’ needs.

Facilitating policy formulation and implementation

The QHSE Agency has mechanisms set up, through which the community identifies the concerns it faces in the realm of QHSE. The QHSE Agency, after these concerns have been established, guides the community in identifying those policies which can best respond to the concerns. In an online system, moderated and guided by the QHSE Agency, public views are generated, while participants are also acquainted with the proposed policies.[8] After the policies have been formulated, the agency assists the community in implementing them. This involves helping participants meet the required standards demanded by the policies and thereafter monitoring adherence to these policies. The agency, through the Data Department’s agents, may engage participants on how best to conform to these policies, as well as what else can be done to build their capacity to better implement and abide by them.

Compliance and harmonization with external standards

After implementation of the community-formulated policies, the agency monitors and ensures compliance with them from businesses and community agencies. The agency does this through reporting frameworks which are in most cases automated. Community agencies and businesses are expected to report their compliance progress and initiatives. The agency’s reporting framework is devised in a way that eliminates the possibility of filing fraudulent reports. In addition, departmental agents may from time to time review these reports in person to identify inconsistencies or difficulty in compliance.[9]

The QHSE Agency also needs to keep up with other policies and standards formulated by external parties, to which the community must comply. The agency updates community policies, with public participation, to match or enhance the external standards.

Coordinated Responsibilities

For some of its roles, the QHSE Agency liaises with other agencies in the community. The coordination can be characterized in three dimensions:

  • horizontal coordination, with other agencies in the Data Department
  • vertical coordination, with agencies in the General Community Support Vertical
  • diagonal coordination, with agencies which are neither in the Data Department or in the General Community Support Vertical

Horizontal coordination

The QHSE Agency liaises with Agency 17 – the Accounting Agency, as the QHSE Agency facilitates businesses’ preparation of non-financial statements, which highlight a business’s impact in areas other than financial. In many economies, non-financial reporting is expected to accompany financial statements, to better show a business strategic direction and adherence to environmental, safety, and corporate social responsibility norms.[10] The QHSE Agency uses the non-financial reports to monitor implementation and adherence to QHSE policies.

The QHSE Agency also liaises with Agency 16 – the Data Management Agency, as the QHSE Agency looks to synthesize data that it can then present to participants during public participation and training forums. The Data Management Agency assists in processing the data it holds about the community and other relevant settings and processes it to fit specific viewpoints, such as standards for different businesses, etc.

Vertical coordination

The QHSE Agency liaises with Agency 15 – the Audit Agency as the QHSE Agency sets up systems to audit the community’s adherence to policies and determine how controls can be strengthened to better respond to safety, health, and environmental issues.[11] The Audit Agency advises on what to look for as the systems are devised. The QHSE Agency also works with Agency 3 – the Leasing Agency and Agency 24 – the Assets Management Agency as the QHSE Agency works to ensure that community installations adhere to QHSE standards. The QHSE Agency works with Agency 12 – the Public Relations Agency so that it can include public relations interests in its QHSE activities. This involves cooperating with the Public Relations Agency to show that the community places high importance on QHSE-related issues, even as it preaches economic and social prosperity. The QHSE Agency works with Agency 6 – the Health Agency to align community QHSE policies and practice with health considerations, especially with regard to safety.

Diagonal coordination

The QHSE Agency liaises with Agency 5 – the Nutrition Agency to ensure that the food consumed in the community is of acceptable standards. This includes the method of production, as well as processing where applicable. The QHSE Agency works with Agency 11 – the Bylaws Agency during QHSE policies formulation to ensure that the policies are compatible with community bylaws and existing legal provisions. The QHSE Agency also liaises with 22 – the Public Facilities Agency to ensure that public facilities are developed with utmost attention to the safety of users, as well as compatibility with environmental conservation goals.

Conclusion

The QHSE Agency’s work is aimed at ensuring that the community has the necessary capacity to conserve the environment, while at the same time meeting its goals with regard to economic and social prosperity, as well as safeguarding the health and safety of participants. To do this, the agency embarks on intensive training of participants so that they can grasp both the importance of QHSE measures and the skills required to meet these policies. In addition, the QHSE Agency works with other agencies to ensure that it has the tools necessary to respond to QHSE issues, including the necessary data, internal controls, and automated systems that make it all possible.


[1] A great percentage of accidents – 80-90% is down to human error. By empowering people with the necessary skills and attitude regarding their safety, health, and the environment, such accidents can be reduced (Smith, T., et al. Variability in Human Performance. Boca Raton: CRC Press, 2015.

[2] QHSE is a people-driven process, meaning that the organization or agency can only facilitate this by enabling individuals to acquire skills necessary to keep themselves and the environment safe and healthy. This means that QHSE relies heavily on training, to impart the required skills (Irimie, S., et al. “Aspects of the Safety and Health at the Workplace.” Procedia Economics and Finance 23.2015 (2015): 52 – 160.).

[3] In the modern world, it is becoming ever more important to base decisions and policy on evidence. The community effort to formulate QHSE policies will be evidence-based, enabling the community to benefit from policies which are well researched, thought-out, and whose primary concern is the participants’ well-being (Sanderson, I. “Evaluation, Policy Learning and Evidence-Based Policy Making.” Public Administration 80.1 (2002): 1-22.)

[4] If carried out well, online training can be as effective as, if not more than, in-person training. For this to succeed however there needs to be the right material, which will not necessitate frequent in-person engagement. This model will work well in the community, where the QHSE Agency will synthesize information in a way which participants will be able to easily grasp it, with assistance being easily available (Ebojoh, O. “Effectiveness of online learning program: A case study of a higher education institution.” Issues in Information Systems 8.1 (2007): 160-166.)

[5] For policies to have any impact, it is necessary to train the people expected to practice them. Training will focus on building their capacity to understand the rationale behind such standards, and reviewing whether they have any other resources needed to practice the said standards (CME. HSE Policy. 2019. 09 06 2019.)

[6] By training participants on the importance of QHSE policies, the community is able to integrate QHSE issues in the community’s ultimate objective, whereby the community targets holistic prosperity – social, economic, and environmental (Skelbo, S. The importance of integrating HSE in the HR initiatives and processes. 22 04 2013. 09 06 2019.)

[7] Through algorithms, websites have ben able to tailor content to suit particular users. The QHSE Agency can employ similar tools so that the training handed out pays attention to issues such as gender, profession, and specific QHSE issues that a person is likely to handle, different to others (Venugopal, K., K. Srinivasa and L. Patnaik. “Algorithms for Web Personalization.” Soft Computing for Data Mining Applications (2009): 217-230.)

[8] Public participation, as the case with community bylaws, is aimed at ensuring inclusivity in the decision making process. Those who are to be affected by policies have a right to have the chance to input their ideas during this stage, so that they can support the resulting policies (Christian, A. Public Participation In Decision-Making Processes. 14 05 2016. 09 06 2019.

[9] The QHSE Agency can utilize non-financial reporting mechanisms. The agency can train businesses how they can file non-financial reports that detail their environmental impact, social responsibility, as well as the steps they have taken to ensure the safety, health and security of their workspaces (PWC. The non-financial reporting regulations What do they mean in practice? special edition. London: PWC, 2017.)

[10] QHSE reporting helps an organization adopt a continuous improvement posture. The community aims to ensure that participants and the external world sees tangible results of its insistence on QHSE. These reports will provide such proof, while laying the ground for further improvement of the tools and policies used to drive its QHSE initiative (Mohammadfam, I. “Developing the health, safety and environment excellence instrument.” Iranian journal of environmental health science & engineering 10.1 (2013): published online.)

[11] QHSE auditing is both periodical and ongoing. In the case of the community, where the audit is mainly automated, it will be a continuous exercise that constantly tests the available controls, while also reviewing businesses’ responses to QHSE policies and practice. This will give the community a better chance to update its QHSE practice and policies (Wescot. QHSE Auditing Policy. 2019. 09 06 2019.).