Nearly 3 in 4 Environmental, Health and Safety (EHS) professionals say their department is understaffed. Whether due to underfunding of EHS priorities or the current skills shortage, it’s a problem that many safety professionals must grapple with.
At the same time, adoption of EHS Software is growing, presenting new opportunities for improving efficiency of EHS processes.
With these facts in mind, let’s take a look at 7 ways you could be using your EHS Software more effectively to get better results.
- Integrate Core Tools
The first place you can gain some efficiency is by linking core processes and tools together. This lets you trigger actions and changes based on events in other areas, likes updating training after an incident or attaching key documents to audit instructions.
Core functions you’ll want to integrate include:
- Document Control
- Employee Training
- Incident Tracking
- Audit Management
- Corrective Action
- Risk Management
- Go Beyond the Basics
Some people using enterprise EHS Software just focus on the core tools listed above, when there are actually a whole suite of functions available.
Once you’ve got a handle on the basic processes, you’ll want to start adding in more advanced functions like:
- Industrial Hygiene: Hazard identification and exposure tracking are top concerns for EHS managers. Industrial Hygiene tracking tools allow you to link exposure data and calculations to other key areas like compliance requirements and corrective actions.
- Job Safety Analysis (JSA): Rather than keep these important documents on paper, you’ll want to centralize JSAs in electronic format for easier access and updates.
- Behavior-Based Safety (BBS): Many companies have adopted BBS programs to reduce incidents through systematic observation and coaching. Moving BBS to an electronic system lets you better track engagement, share lessons learned and glean valuable data to improve safety throughout the company.
- Emergency Response Plans: It’s not uncommon for emergency response plans to be out-of-date, but obviously this can create problems in terms of incident response and compliance. Leveraging automated tools lets you put your plan on a regular schedule for review and drills.
- Make Better Use of Incident and Near-Miss Data
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, nearly 2.9 injuries and illnesses occurred in the workplace in 2016. The sad part is that on-the-job injuries are completely preventable, in many cases resulting from inadequate analysis and tracking of previous incidents.
Companies with strong safety records recognize this, using their EHS Software to develop leading indicators based on previous incidents and other safety data. What’s more, they log all near-misses in the EHS Management System, rather than just breathing a sigh of relief at having avoided a close call.
When you take near-misses seriously, investigating and reporting on them as you would reportable incidents, you’re better able to eliminate the root cause and prevent an actual injury.
- Prioritize Regulatory Compliance Gaps
The Code of Federal Regulations has literally thousands of individual requirements that the average company must comply with. It’s why so many companies hire outside consultants specifically to help with regulatory compliance.
But what if you don’t have the budget for consultants, or you want to get ahead of the curve? Here’s a basic formula for reducing compliance risk:
- Create a database of Compliance Obligations that apply to your facility (a handy tool in any robust EHS Software solution).
- Link each requirement to compliance records such as audit findings.
- Identify gaps where you don’t have proof of compliance for individual requirements.
- Assess the risk level of each compliance gap and initiate corrective action starting with high-risk gaps.
- Track Environmental Data in Real-Time
Another way to improve your efficiency and effectiveness with EHS Software is to leverage automated tools that track environmental performance in real time. Too often, environmental reporting happens in the rear-view mirror, whether it’s compiling data for regulators or pulling together information for your annual corporate sustainability report.
By using real-time Emissions, Water Management and Sustainability reporting, you can:
- Make adjustments as you go to step in early when performance is trending in the wrong direction
- Create reports faster, rather than having to wait on individuals to send spreadsheets (and then having to compile them)
- Get units right without the hassle of having to QA/QC every equation and unit conversion, so you can avoid embarrassing errors
- Create Custom Alerts and Workflows
Last but not least, you can squeeze more time and effectiveness out of your day by adding automated alerts and workflows to various processes within your EHS Software.
- Escalating notifications to supervisors when scheduled maintenance, training or high-risk corrective actions are overdue
- Crating delegation rules for various requests (e.g. audit or incident follow-up) so important items don’t get lost in the inbox of someone who’s out of town
- Customizing your dashboard to get alerts when there are problems so you can address them right away
- Designing workflows for different types of requests to reduce email bottlenecks
If you take the steps discussed in this post, chances are you’ll have a wealth of data and results to share with your team and company leadership. Not only will you improve safety effectiveness, it could help you gain valuable buy-in (and resources) for future initiatives.