Presidents, Process and Supreme Court Nominees

| July 16, 2009

I have been following with interest the nomination hearings of Sonia Sotomayor.  I find the focus on substance (i.e. what she believes) as opposed to process (i.e. how decisions are reached) fascinating.

When we were at Disney earlier this month, we visited the re-opening of the Hall of Presidents featuring Obama as the newest President of the United States.  As I sat through the presentation, I contemplated which of the Presidents has had, or will have, the greatest impact on American life.

Interestingly, one of Presidents with a direct and on-going impact is William Howard Taft.  Not because of what he accomplished as President but because of what he did after serving as President.  Taft is the only President to go on to serve as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.  He considered this the highest point of his career.  While at the Supreme Court, he was instrumental in establishing the processes for how legal cases are handled – processes that are still in place today.

In many legal cases, process determines outcome.  This can occur in a variety of ways.  Process can determine whether a matter is heard in the first place.  Process may make a case too expensive to litigate – or continue litigating.  Process may prevent any further appeal of an unfavorable lower court decision.  In all of these circumstances, process can be more important than substance.

The same thing can occur in occupational health and safety management systems.  The processes you put in place will have a direct impact on your ability to prevent injury and ill health.  If your work instructions do not include safety precautions, safe work practices will not be used.   If your safety SOPs are complex and unwieldy, they will be ignored.  If employees are criticized for using safe work practices because it impacts production, employees will be less likely to work safely next time.  In all of these cases, “processes” can have direct health and safety consequences.

Remember, to have good outcomes you need good processes.

© ENLAR® Compliance Services, Inc. (2009)

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Category: OHSMS Implementation

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