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Differing Professional Opinion (DPO)

Changing Times

In today's workplace employees are expected to be creative and to challenge the
status quo, and organizations need to be successful in addressing and dealing with
some of their top performers? strong questioning attitude. As questions continue to
rise not only in how companies are run, technical determinations that affect safety and environmental impact are now being questioned at higher frequency than has been seen in the past.

The Benefit

As a result of this strong questioning attitude, product reliability has generally improved. The safety of the public and the impacts to the environment continue to move in a positive direction for those top performing companies that recognize the long-term benefit.

The benefit of the DPO process is that it provides a pathway for resolution of technical and operational matters. It also gives the organization the opportunity to resolve the issue without regulatory agency intervention. Generally, once an issue goes outside the organization for resolution, the relationship between the employee/ public and the employer becomes strained. The cost to rehabilitate employee/ employer relationship is expensive and labor intensive, and the impact to the organization's credibility with regulators and the public sector can be crippling.

DPO Process

The DPO process represents one methodology available to employees who wish to
formally resolve their professional judgment that may differ from the organization's prevailing in-house position.

Successful DPO processes are generally designed with executive level management involvement contributing the necessary authority to provide prompt in-house resolution. To add credibility to the process, an independent expert who has had no prior involvement is often utilized to facilitate the process. This independent expert can either be from an internal source or contracted from an external source.

Employers should assure that their employees understand the process and the degree that issued determinations are final within the organization. In regulated industries, employees need to be made aware that the DPO process does not prevent the employee who isn't satisfied with the resolution from pursuing their issue with the proper authority if he or she believes that there is a violation of the law.

Generally, once the issue is investigated, a report that details the findings and
assessment is shared with the employee, and an executive will then determine
the course of action the organization will take to resolve the issue. This process
should make full use of the organization's Corrective Action Program or other formal means that can document, track, and address the employee's DPO.

At the WorkPlace Cornerstone Group we believe issues that are resolved within an
organization, using a consistent process, provides outcomes that not only address
the issue but very importantly are done so with a minimal amount of impact to the
organization and the trust of its employees.

Should your organization need assistance developing a process to address technical issues within the workplace, our experienced staff can help. We provide a collaborative process to meet the needs of your organization and your people.
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