Visibility and Control ‒ Why Now Is the Time to Automate Your EHS Processes

[fa icon="calendar"] Wed, Apr 25, 2018 / by Sean Salvas

EHS management software gives you visibility of data and control over processes.

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Modern organizations are complex. R&D, production, sales and logistics all use different systems, processes and partners. And regulatory requirements are constantly evolving. How can EHS professionals keep track of safety management across the enterprise and implement change effectively when and where is it needed?

Technology is key to providing the visibility and control needed for EHS programs ‒ visibility of key data to make informed decisions and control of processes to manage change across the organization. The 2017 EHS Technology Trends Survey identified the technology trends with the greatest potential for EHS programs as:

  • Simplified user experience to increase use of EHS management software
  • Data sharing capabilities
  • Predictive analytics

Let’s look at three big reasons why you should start automating your EHS processes today:

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Compliance ‒ Automated Processes Create a Central Hub to Maintain Compliance

EHS compliance touches all areas of the business, from accident prevention measures and emergency preparedness, to monitoring waste and emissions to meet environmental targets. Consequently, data is held in different systems in different formats. EHS management software provides a single platform for compliance that automatically collects data from different business systems. As standards and regulations are updated, you can see quickly and easily what is required to stay compliant without having to do a comprehensive and time-consuming review.

Integrating internal data is challenging enough, but businesses increasingly need data from their supply chain for compliance. For example, to meet environmental regulations such as REACH and RoHS or ensure products are free from Conflict Minerals. Even small changes in how materials are sourced or transported require MOC (Management of Change) processes as they could have major implications for sustainability performance or health and safety procedures. Using manual processes to transfer data can be unreliable and error-prone. Plus, requesting and chasing information by phone and email is inefficient, and the information they carry is hard to share. EHS management software offers a secure way to ensure data flows seamlessly through the supply chain. There are even apps that make suppliers part of specific processes, without giving them unrestricted access to internal systems. Such end-to-end visibility and traceability will help you react faster to incidents or potential risks to compliance.

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Risk Management ‒ Finding, Assessing and Mitigating Safety Risks Quickly and Consistently

Risk management is now a board-level concern and is becoming ingrained in all areas of the business. The challenge is how to implement risk management strategies that find, identify and manage risks appropriately across the business.

Integrating risk management with EHS management software has a direct impact on the efficiency of many of the processes required for incident management, job safety analysis and corrective action. For example, EHS systems are commonly used to track all safety incidents. They streamline incident management by using existing risk matrices to assess the level of risk for each incident. This means that the highest risks are identified and prioritized so they can be actioned faster. Ultimately, by using automation, you can deliver more systematic, consistent and faster risk management.

Another powerful aspect of this type of automation is the reporting functionality it offers for continuous improvement. Having visibility of risks across the business gives you the opportunity to take a proactive approach and mitigate future ones. It helps you to spot emerging trends or identify key areas for improvement and make objective decisions about where to focus effort.

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Change Management ‒ Fixing Issues that Involve Multiple Workflows, Products and People

Change is an ongoing process and every change involves some aspect of EHS. Introducing a new chemical into an existing process could increase the risk of hazardous inhalation or a new piece of equipment could impact air quality. Effective change management is required to ensure that the correct environmental permits are obtained and health and safety policies implemented. As regulations change, policies and procedures need to be updated across the board. Manual processes make change time-consuming and hard to monitor, particularly if they involve multiple teams and business functions. As organizations become more complex, this problem tends to get worse.

To embed new ways of working you need strong workflows, linked processes and benchmarks to ensure standards and compliance requirements are met. EHS management software gives you the control to do this. Say you need to update an important environmental policy, for example. A document management system centralizes all policy information, with version control, so employees always access the latest approved version. You can launch employee training with testing to ensure the policy has been understood. Then you can track any non-conformances related to the updated policy using corrective action workflows.

Today’s workplaces are evolving rapidly. The digital transformation is impacting every aspect of business from customer expectations to how employees work. Organizations are restructuring so they can be more agile and respond faster. EHS professionals need to keep pace with these changes and develop better visibility and control for safety and environmental management. By automating EHS processes, you’ll be able to access data in real time, streamline workflows and make informed decisions that add value to the business.

Takeaways

  • Organizations are using many different systems and process and that makes it difficult to monitor and manage EHS issues across the business.
  • Automating processes means that you can bring all your compliance data together in one place.
  • EHS management software allows you integrate risk management, so you have better visibility of risk.
  • Using data and analytics helps you to take a more proactive approach to mitigating risk.
  • EHS systems give you more control over processes that need to be changed or updated regularly.

Learn more about automating EHS and quality processes across the enterprise. Download The Enterprise Quality Management System Handbook: Supporting a Quality Culture Across Your Business

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Sean Salvas

Written by Sean Salvas

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