How do you determine how healthy your business is? Depending on who you ask within an organization, you will get a different answer. Some may consider a healthy business based purely on profits, whereas others may be focused with how well the organization’s practices are aligning with their mission statement.
Even within the health and safety department alone, you will receive contrasting opinions. Since there are so many elements to consider, such as workplace injuries, medical leave, and OSHA compliance, people within different roles and departments will have unique insights. At the end of the day, determining the health of your business isn’t always a simple answer.
Another consideration to make is the impact your business has on the health of the world around you. How is your waste management, your carbon footprint? What initiatives do you have to mitigate your environmental impact?
Only by pulling back and looking at all of these elements, can you really begin to see the big picture of the true health of your business. If you don’t like what you see, or you feel that there’s room for improvement, there’s an HSE software suite that can help.
A Healthy Workforce
When you set out to improve the health of your business, it’s best to start with your workforce. They are the driving force behind your organization and their health is critical. By using health software to track trends in injuries and illnesses, you can start to identify some common themes and develop programs to mitigate them from occurring.
Perhaps one of the biggest health issues to plague any industry is cold and flu season. While the common cold is more of an annoyance than a cause for serious concern, it is still a costly illness. A 2003 study estimated that between time taken off to recover from the illness and time spent at home nursing sick children, colds contribute to $20 billion US in lost work hours per year. The flu can lead to another $15-20 billion, depending on the severity of the strain. Given these facts, no matter the severity, illnesses have an impact on corporate spending.
HSE software can make this process easier from start to finish. Begin by scheduling the campaign to start right before cold and flu season. A company-wide memo as well as fliers and posters can be designed, with helpful hygiene tips to avoid the spread of illness.
This is also a good time to remind employees of your company’s sick leave policies, and to strongly encourage them to stay home if they may be contagious. If you can offer flex-time or telecommuting options for those who may be low on time off, share that information as well.
Next, you may wish to design a flu vaccine drive. If you have an on-site health clinic, this will involve being sure to order enough vaccines and schedule enough staff to get everyone vaccinated in a timely manner. Use your software to schedule email reminders for those who have not yet received their shot for the year.
If you don’t have an on-site health clinic, you may wish to either refer your employees to a local health clinic or see if you can arrange a partnership with a local pharmacy who could offer an incentive to your employees to get their flu shots.
Ergonomics and Occupational Safety
Employee health doesn’t just stop at illness, however. There are health threats to be found in the workplace, in the form of bad ergonomics and unsafe work practices. Musculoskeletal disorders (MSD) account for 33% of pain, suffering, and disability in the workplace. They are the leading cause for worker’s compensation claims and require an average of 11 days for recovery, versus an average of 8 days for all other complaints.
The combination of lost work hours and compensation pay-outs costs approximately $20 billion USD per year. This high cost, and the accompanying employee suffering that causes it, has lead many companies to take a hard look at their ergonomics in order to reduce the occurrence of on-the-job injuries.
Did you know that almost half of all MSD complaints are related to back pain? Issues with the back can be caused by improper lifting technique, poorly designed workspace, and too much time spent setting in an improperly adjusted chair, which is why the plague workers no matter the industry.
If your workplace suffers from a high instance of back pain complaints, occupational safety software can help you discover trends in the complaints and work up a solution. It may be that employees need to be trained on how much they can safely lift, or that new chairs are needed for desk workers.
With all of this in mind, the best designed ergonomics and workflow policies can still fail if employees don’t adhere to them. That’s why it’s important to remember to schedule regular assessments and retraining as needed, to prevent avoidable injuries.
This is another area where a software solution can make processes easier, with reminders about when training and equipment tests are due. If any of your safety procedures require certification or the filing of inspection reports, this can be easily achieved as well.
When safety incidents do happen, the right software can help your employee get back to the job by facilitating easier knowledge transfer between the OHS department, their physician and their physical therapist.
Sustainability and Environmental Health and Safety
The issues surrounding the environment and sustainability may be some of the most difficult ones facing today’s businesses. The environmental impact of business costs $4.7 trillion annually across the globe, not to mention the innumerable permanent damage done to the ecosystem when things go wrong.
The choices that your company makes about environmental health and safety have the potential to impact not just your bottom line, but also your employees’ health, and the ecosystem of your surrounding area.
Because the stakes are so high in this sphere, every decision has to be looked at through the lens of what offers the least harm and most benefit. Emissions, waste, impact on wildlife, and more all have to be considered.
Modelling the results of environmental decisions is difficult to without the support of HSE software. That’s why it’s good to have sustainability software that can analyze the potential results and create reports to inform your choices.
One of the key elements of having an ecologically sound and sustainable company is compliance with all relevant regulatory requirements. Environmental health software can help by interfacing with governmental websites, submitting automated reports about emission and waste management data and scheduling mandatory inspections.
A frequently overlooked environmental issue is the proper storage, tracking, and disposal of dangerous chemicals. While industries that deal with large volumes of chemicals follow strict guidelines for safe handling, industries dealing with smaller volumes often don’t have proper procedures in place. When employees need small amounts of chemicals, they are often stored wherever is convenient and purchased or replaced as needed. Unfortunately, if your employees do not have a proper education in chemistry, they may not realize that some of these chemicals can become dangerous as they break down over time, and that they cannot simply be disposed by throwing them away.
As such, one simple yet powerful step that can be taken for environmental safety is using your software to track your inventory of workplace chemicals. You can log when the supplies were purchased and in what volume. The software can generate the relevant warning labels, use and disposal instructions, and expiry information. It can send notifications when chemicals will need to be safely disposed of and replaced with new.
This will ensure that your business practices are in line with OSHA regulations. Improper logging, storage, and disposal of chemicals is not only dangerous, but illegal. Failure to comply with proper procedure can result in costly fees and legal action, along with the potential for serious injury from a chemical spill, explosion, or unexpected reaction.
The Benefits of a Healthier Business
Just like there’s no simple answer to determine how healthy your business is, it’s not simple to analyze the true cost of unhealthy practices.
The benefits and importance of prioritizing your company’s health however, are very clear. Every step you can take to reduce lost productivity or regulatory non-compliance puts money back in your budget and enhances your workforce. Safer, healthier employees are happier employees, and good morale is known to increase productivity and job satisfaction.
In the past, most of these issues have been handled with old-fashioned paperwork, or with solutions cobbled together out of spreadsheets and other repurposed software. The old way is inefficient. Your business and your workforce deserve better.
Implementing a company-wide HSE software solution involves an initial investment of time and money. Following implementation, your business will see that health and safety changes are enacted quicker and more efficiently than ever before. You will be on the path to building a company that is as healthy as possible, no matter how you define health.