The Future of Safety at EHS Today’s Safety Leadership Conference

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Courtesy of Intelex Technologies Inc.

Here at Intelex we rely on EHS Today as an important source of industry news, as do many of our customers. It was no surprise that their conference covered some of the most cutting-edge trends in the Environmental, Health and Safety space. Intelex Health and Safety Practice Manager Eric Morris was among those discussing where safety is heading through his workshop entitled, “The Future of Safety: Moving Your Organization Through the EHSQ Maturity Curve.” Here are three key takeaways from Eric’s presentation.

  • You need to move beyond compliance

Organizations that care about safety establish a competitive advantage over competitors because they see safety as more than just avoiding fines and reducing incidents. These organizations use safety software to encourage safe behavior and protect company goodwill.

An organization’s goodwill is the amount of capital built up around its brand name and its relationships with customers and employees. For companies such as Nestle, Starbucks, and Google, goodwill is easily among their most valuable assets according to annual SEC report filings.

All it takes to irreparably damage this hard won reputation is a single incident. As Warren Buffet once said, “It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you’ll do things differently.” To not consider the role that safety can play in protecting goodwill is to seriously endanger one of your most valuable assets.

To begin managing safety for performance rather than just for compliance, you’ll need to shift your thinking away from a one-app-fits-all safety management model. When it comes to bolstering organizational performance and protecting goodwill, you need solutions that are specifically tailored to the risk you are trying to manage. For example, conducting ergonomics analysis for jobs that require repetitive and strenuous movement. Respecting the need for properly aligned solutions puts your organization in a position to reap even greater benefits from safety through employee buy-in.

  • You need to get your employees involved

Employees play an integral part in using EHSQ software for performance because they are the ones executing on strategy. If your firm makes it easy for employees to be safe and to report unsafe behavior, then they will comply. The classic notion of employees as automatons who exist solely to follow orders is not only out-of-date but counter-productive—the longer a company insists on treating employees this way, the more it loses by not treating employees as the strategic resource they can be.

Here is where the question of employee adoption comes in. EHSQ software adoption and usage can be greatly increased by tailoring the software to employee work patterns. In the modern world, this means making use of mobile. With nearly every employee in possession of a smartphone, you can exponentially increase the power of your efforts by empowering employees to use these devices to record hazards. In this way, phones are not a distraction and more than merely a communication tool, but rather a piece of PPE as essential as a hard hat.

By empowering your workers with mobile, you place checks on safety throughout your organization. This automatically increases the amount of visibility you have throughout your processes and acts as a protective bubble around your company’s goodwill.

  • You need to move beyond safety

Moving beyond compliance is one thing, but moving beyond safety is quite another. The most powerful and transformational insights that can be derived from safety are the ones that are not exclusive to safety at all.

By coupling your safety systems with other aspects of your business, such as your human capital and enterprise resource management systems, you begin to reap truly valuable insights. These insights can have a significant impact on organizational profitability even while offering further goodwill protection. Once your employees are empowered to gather data, and understand the connection between data and profitability, you will have access to data from all facets of the business to analyze for trends and patterns.

A strong example of a company progressing to a transformational level of insight is Pace Industries. After implementing a safety management software solution, Pace managed to reduce their OSHA recordable rate by 62% and their incident severity by 85%. All of this led to Pace saving $1.2M in Workers Compensation.

The EHSQ maturity curve is based on the idea that safety performance (in addition to environmental and quality performance) can be a source of competitive advantage. By understanding goodwill as asset, involving your employees in data collection by empowering them with mobile technology, and connecting safety with other business units to improve profitability, companies can capitalize on a tremendous strategic advantage.

For more insights and best practices for instituting a company-wide safety culture, download the full Pace Industries Case Study now!

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