Technological advancements have improved the efficiency and organization of many tasks for Environmental, Health, and Safety (EHS) professionals. For example, proactive safety (safety practices that work to create safer conditions for preventing incidents before they happen) is only possible with the existence of previously compiled information (e.g., regulations, statistics, communications, etc.). This second article of a two-part series on the practical applications of software solutions for EHS practitioners will explain several ways that such tools can be applied to processes that rely on safety data.
Data collection and interpretation is a tested ground for advancing every aspect of life and work. However, it is especially true for EHS that the future of delivering better outcomes depends on unlocking the power that lies in the vast amounts of data that is collected in the workplace every day. Already having the knowledge that comes from years of experience serving workers, EHS professionals can partner with software applications that have the technical capabilities of data visualization, automating communications and data entry, and regulatory tracking to fully employ the power of data, effectively create and implement solutions, and achieve safety program optimization.
Software applications provide powerful features for data visualization that can advance critical protocols. When EHS professionals can immediately generate graphical reports and charts, these visual representations facilitate data analysis for the identification of trends (e.g., X number of incidents have regularly occurred during 2nd shift for the past 7 months) and areas for improvement (e.g., these incidents all include misused PPE so additional PPE training and enforcement will be mandated). EHS professionals can also leverage software tools to automate data entry and calculations, reducing the risk of manual errors and freeing up time for more strategic initiatives. In this way, EHS professionals can use software to not only solve immediate challenges but also harness predictive safety practices and prepare for what is next.
Software solutions make it possible to receive real-time updates and monitoring of risk. As new information becomes available or workplace conditions change, EHS professionals can easily modify and update strategies to ensure their organization’s risk management approach remains relevant and effective. In support of this, software applications can be used to generate reports and dashboards that provide an overview of the organization’s risk profile, enabling EHS professionals to show stakeholders and decision-makers where risks are high and implement appropriate controls.
Software tools offer EHS professionals an efficient means of delivering training and facilitating more streamlined and responsive communication within their organizations. Learning management systems (LMS) are widely used to deliver online training courses, track employee progress, and manage certification records. These platforms allow professionals to develop and deploy interactive training modules, ensuring consistent delivery of safety-related information to all employees. For example, a training tracker solution could be employed to print off a QR code for employees at a required training session to scan as a way of “signing in.” Their attendance would immediately be registered in the system and follow-up processes would be enacted (e.g., approval notifications sent to the training administrator, assignment of any subsequent training sessions, etc.). Additionally, with these systems, practitioners can introduce more personalized learning paths, allowing employees to access the training materials that are most relevant to their roles and responsibilities. The results of implementing such software are more configurable solutions for safety programs that only improve as they are used to collect more accurate data.
Software applications also enhance communication between EHS professionals and employees. Digital platforms enable the timely dissemination of safety-related information, company policies, and regulatory updates. EHS professionals can use software functionality to automate the sending (via email or text) of targeted messages and notifications to specific employee groups, ensuring that critical information reaches the right individuals at the right time. Additionally, software applications provide channels for employees to report safety concerns, submit suggestions, and participate in discussions, fostering a culture of safety and engagement within the organization. This directly contributes to the success of a safety program. If the workforce is not able to offer feedback for the safety program, workers will not feel any ownership of their safety, and protocols will not reach their full potential for the individual and the organization.
Finally, and probably most obviously, compliance with local, national, and international regulations is a paramount responsibility for EHS professionals. Software solutions offer valuable support in monitoring and ensuring regulatory compliance. These applications register up-to-date regulations so that EHS teams are always aware of changes and can take necessary actions to maintain compliance. Compliance management software can be used to automate compliance checks, track regulatory deadlines, and generate compliance reports. This reduces the administrative burden on EHS professionals, allowing them to focus on proactive safety measures. The benefits of centralizing compliance requirements and documentation using integrated software in this way are three-fold, enabling EHS leaders to:
- easily demonstrate compliance during audits and inspections.
- streamline the preparation and submission of regulatory reports, reducing the risk of errors and non-compliance.
- generate alerts and reminders to ensure that reporting deadlines are met.
These capabilities of environmental reporting tools are particularly beneficial for EHS professionals working in industries with stringent environmental regulations.
Software applications provide EHS professionals with practical and efficient solutions to enhance their work processes. By leveraging software tools, EHS professionals can streamline tasks, improve data management, enhance risk management, facilitate training and communication, and ensure regulatory compliance. This can move tasks from data entry to data analysis, allowing an EHS professional to lend their expertise to risk mitigation and spend less effort and time performing menial tasks. Embracing software solutions empowers EHS professionals with data, offering them the insights and tools needed to contribute to a safer work environment and achieve organizational success. As technology continues to evolve, EHS professionals should stay abreast of emerging software solutions to further enhance their roles and make their jobs even better.
Cary comes to the SafetyStratus team as the Vice President of Operations with almost 30 years of experience in several different industries. He began his career in the United States Navy’s nuclear power program. From there he transitioned into the public sector as an Environmental, Health & Safety Manager in the utility industry. After almost thirteen years, he transitioned into the construction sector as a Safety Director at a large, international construction company. Most recently he held the position of Manager of Professional Services at a safety software company, overseeing the customer success, implementation, and process consulting aspects of the services team.
At SafetyStratus, he is focused on helping achieve the company’s vision of “Saving lives and the environment by successfully integrating knowledgeable people, sustainable processes, and unparalleled technology”.