A major challenge in any organization is successfully getting from policies to practices. It is important that the acceptable risks envisioned by a company's safety and health policies be achieved in the actual practices of every worker. Frequently, standards and procedures are written to direct worker practices, but, over time, these standards may not be effective in meeting the organization's policies and values. When someone requests a variance from a standard, the organization may realize that no one knows exactly what it is trying to accomplish, making it almost impossible to rationally grant a variance. The criteria upon which the standard is based are rarely stated explicitly.

This paper presents a pyramid model showing the flow from values to policies to criteria/guidelines to standards/procedures to practices/behaviors. Actual examples from operating chemical plants and engineering groups illustrate the type of problems encountered when we leave out one or more steps. Cases in which all steps function are also presented.