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Committing to safety in these tough times

(Image credit: Image source: Shutterstock/gpointstudio)

We are in uncertain and unchartered times – but it will not be the first or the last time businesses have had to face a major and unexpected economic downturn. Aside from the obvious importance of safety in the workplace, organisations that protect their employees are better placed to face a crisis head on and flourish when business returns to an upward curve.

The topic of environment, health and safety (EHS) software is often put lower down the boardroom agenda as not being an obvious necessity. In reality, companies now need it more than ever. Organisations that can show they are taking care of one of their most important assets, their employees, are better positioned to control costs, optimise productivity and hold onto share value than those that don’t. When times improve, companies that have committed to health and safety will be in a far better position to ramp up and take advantage of opportunities that will come after the storm.  

Managing the risk

The fact is that if employees have the appropriate training and tools to safeguard themselves in the workplace, workplace-related health and safety issues are less likely to rear their head. Employees actively appreciate employers who are protecting their health and safety in the workplace. Thus when a crisis happens that has a huge impact on the business they are more likely to be flexible in the workplace about changed schedules and restructuring.

Safety and wellness should now be an integral part of any business strategy as part of employee engagement.  According to research by Gallup, business with the highest level of employee engagement are 22 per cent more profitable than those with low employee engagement.

Showing a strong commitment to health and safety reflects not only in employee engagement, but also how they portray your company outside work to the wider community.

During difficult times, employees’ minds are not always full on the job, which can lead to greater risk. Your health and safety strategy, therefore, needs to be more robust and transparent than ever and show employees how they in turn can protect each other.

This, however, puts heavier burden on the health and safety professional who can find themselves drowning in paperwork. Added pressure and lack of time can lead to documents getting mislaid and spreadsheets left incomplete. This is where EHS software comes in to its own in its ability to automate a large number of health and safety tasks accurately, enabling health and safety professionals to focus on supporting staff.

EHS software is a no brainer

When you look at the facts, investing in EHS software is a no brainer. According to the Health and Safety Executive over one million workers are injured or made ill by their work in the UK annually, costing business around £15 billion. Thus, the welfare of employees is fundamental in both protecting workforce productivity and the bottom-line.

EHS software can not only enhance compliance assurance, it is also a boon when it comes to accountability and visibility, ensuring your organisation is taking both predictive and corrective actions. An EHS database also breaks down data siloes ensuring free flow of information across the organisation. Often there are a number of people involved in robust EHS policy in an organisation and it can make processes complex. EHS software can highlight who is responsible for specific tasks and make sure all stakeholders are fully informed.

EHS professionals are often working on limited budgets. One of the major selling points of EHS software is it provides a large amount of data which is invaluable when it comes to drawing up EHS strategies and resource allocations. Another major benefit is that it makes every changing regulations easier to comply whilst providing data insight for smart decision making. 

EHS software can also help with contingency planning to formalise standard operating procedures if an incident occurs. Having a standardise solution means that your company can respond faster and that EHS incidents are handled as efficiently as possible. The data gleaned from this will also help to improve future contingency plans.

Getting your EHS solution right

EHS software can help you streamline processes, engage employees, and ensure regulatory EHS compliance. But with so many EHS solutions out there to choose from, how do you know which one is right for you and will grow with your business.

Before you start you need to do your homework. You need to know what criteria you want your EHS system to fill and how it will align with your organisation’s strategic, operational, sustainability and risk management goals as well as IT architecture requirements.

Of course, every organisation is different and there is not a one size that fits all EHS solution out there, To help the key evaluation criteria for EHS software purchasing decisions in a recent Verdantix survey were user interface quality (45 per cent), ease of integration (37 per cent), ability to configure workflows and forms (30 per cent), and out-of-the-box workflows, analytics and metrics (28 per cent).

Here are five tips that are invaluable in your EHS solution selection process:

  • You aren’t simply shopping for a software solution. You are seeking out a partner who can assess your organisation’s compliance and risk needs and provide you with a solution that best fits your business roadmap.
  • Make sure you have your IT department on board from the beginning who can advise on the technological requirements of your organisation, which may include specific web browsers or mobile devices, for example. IT will also be able to ensure that the solution meets your organisation’s security policy.
  • Look for software that offers you the most mobility for the tasks you need carrying out. By giving employees access to EHS software on smartphones and other mobile devices it makes it far easier to promote a culture of safety within your organisation.
  • Make sure your EHS software integrates with your organisation’s systems and workflows. Having an all singing all dancing EHS software system that sits in a silo is of little use and will not give you the data insight you will require as part of your digital transformation going forward.
  • Finally, make sure you fully understand the costs involved in deploying EHS software. If you are starting out with EHS software, for example, you may want to choose the most important modules to deploy first as the foundation for a sustainable EHS software powered future.

Getting employees up to speed

Implementing EHS software will go along way to creating a culture of safety within your organisation. But to work, they must find the software interface familiar and easy to use and have a level of commitment and passion to make it work, not just today, but tomorrow and beyond.

It is therefore imperative that you engage employees in the selection process of your EHS software solution from the beginning and constructively take on board their comments. Complex procedures, for example, will act as a deterrent. This is why apps, similar to employees use in their downtime, are so effective in motivating employees to report incidents and near-misses that need to be addressed quickly before they cause a significant problem.

Underscoring workplace health and safety

Safeguarding the health and safety of employees even in the most uncertain times is paramount. By working with a knowledgeable and informed technology partner, EHS software can help you control and reduce risks.

Employees will feel safer and more engaged in a company that makes health and safety a priority, resulting in a more committed and productive workforce

Billy O’Brien CMIOSH, Co-founder Engage EHS