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Management of change

Last updated June 2021

This chapter explains the process you must follow when implementing changes to tasks or equipment in the workplace.

Change management process

One of the most effective ways to minimise health and safety risks associated with a proposed change in your workplace is to use a change management process.

Definition: Change Management Process

A change management process is a process for identifying, assessing and controlling a change to workplace design, operations, organisation or activities prior to implementation to ensure that:
- the change doesn’t introduce any hazards into the workplace; or
- the risk of hazards to workers, the public or the environment is either eliminated or reduced so far as reasonably practicable.

Change management processes need to deal with a number of scenarios, including:

  • planned changes;
  • unplanned changes;
  • temporary or emergency changes;
  • risk assessments associated with the proposed change; and
  • any human factor implications.

In December 1984 in Bhopal, India, a runaway reaction between water and methyl isocyanate (MIC) in a storage plant at the MIC derivatives plant resulted in several tonnes of highly toxic MIC being released into the atmosphere. Fatalities numbered at least 2,000.

The cause of the incident appeared to be water entering via a jumper line that had been installed without following the company’s change management process. Proper management of change processes should have identified the hazards associated with this implementation.
Caution: Failing to manage change properly can significantly increase health and safety risks.