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EHS Innovation Trend – Emerging Solutions to Support Your EHS Culture

Tim Lozier
by Tim Lozier on Wed, Oct 25, 2017

Behind the hype, how will the Internet of Things and wearable devices transform quality and health and safety processes in today’s businesses?

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Two emerging technologies that can play a significant part in improving your EHS culture are wearable devices and the Internet of Things.

Wearable devices use the power of mobile technologies to connect workers to monitoring systems. They can be can be carried or worn on the person, or integrated into personal protection equipment. The technology has the potential to transform EHS, particularly in high-risk environments. Through enabling more robust hazard identification and control, it reduces the risk of accidents, injuries and environmental impact. This is because it enables you to simultaneously monitor safety and environmental data in real time, including:

  • Location monitoring

  • Activity detection

  • Non-verbal gesture tracking

  • Monitoring heart rate

  • Monitoring contaminants and toxic substances.

Workers can be alerted to potential exposure to harmful chemicals or proximity to dangerous equipment, or moving vehicles to reduce accidents, while near-miss incidents can be more easily detected and reported. 

The Internet of Things (IoT) is a network of physical objects, such as machines, vehicles and equipment, embedded with electronics, software, sensors and network connectivity which allows them collect and exchange data with each other and other computers. 

This technology can play a key role in improving environmental management through lowering the risk of inefficient resource use and environmental damage. For example, sensors in a device can transmit data to a service center, where any indication of a problem will trigger remote diagnostics or a site visit for preventive action. Devices can always be kept running at their optimum level, eliminating inefficient function or failure leading to a safety or environmental incident. 

From ergonomics and noise levels to gas concentrations, wearable devices and IoT have the ability to generate large volumes of highly specific, real-time data. However, this will only be of benefit with the right systems and processes in place, such as a centralized information management system underpinning an EHS system. Wearables and IoT increase the productivity and efficiency of collecting the data, but that data is only of real value if it is managed through a single system. 

Furthermore, these new technologies will only truly benefit an EHS culture if they are properly integrated into an EHS system. Use the Plan-Do-Check-Act model to guide your process of adopting them. We've outlined some basic issues to help you focus: 

Plan

  • Which process areas pose the highest risk to workers and the environment?

  • What past injuries and illnesses might have been prevented with wearable device monitoring?

  • How could a smart device help reduce environmental footprint?

  • Is the device compatible with our existing monitoring system?

Do

  • Update EHS processes in your document control system to reflect how employees are to use the devices.

  • Train employees on how to use the devices and interpret their data.

Check

  • Conduct audits to discover whether workers are actually using the devices. If they aren’t, find out why not.

  • Examine the data that the devices generate to assess whether they actually reveal any valuable EHS insights.

Act

  • Adjust training to ensure devices are used properly.

  • Reassess high-risk procedures in light of the new information provided by the devices.

  • Evaluate near-misses to generate more predictive data that help you prevent worker injury and illness or environmental incidents.

These new technologies have the potential to vastly improve your EHS culture, but only if you recognize that the decision to adopt them should be made through the lens of operational excellence, so that they are evaluated and implemented through its robust processes.

Find out more about the latest innovations and processes in best practice environmental health and safety management by downloading our free handbook The Environmental Health and Safety Management Handbook: Supporting a Quality Culture Across Your Business

The Environmental Health and Safety Handbook: Supporting a Quality Culture Across Your Business

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Tim Lozier
Written by Tim Lozier
Tim is the Manager for Marketing and Strategy at EtQ, Inc.
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