Whether you’re an EHS professional, business owner, or operations manager – you should be driven to continuously improve your workplace safety program. But what does it mean to take your efforts to the next level? It’s not enough to simply put appropriate safety policies in place; no matter how well thought-out it may be, all policy is meaningless without the accompanying practice to put those safeguards into action consistently. And the most important part of effective practices requires an emphasis on employee participation at every level of your organization. In order to successfully implement high-quality safety standards, businesses must create a workplace culture that embraces and centers safety as the cornerstone of all the work on a daily basis while providing effective oversight and management. It’s critically important that each individual employee gives their “buy-in” to the policies, practices, and safeguards put into place by your organization’s leadership, contributing to the overall culture to emphasize safety and risk management.
What Does Safety Culture Involve?
There are a few key factors that are essential to developing a strong culture of workplace safety in any business. First of all, the organization’s goals must be identified, with an emphasis on creating benchmarks that are both relevant to the unique safety needs of the business and easily measurable. You may want to use the SMART goals framework to help facilitate the process, ensuring that each goal is Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-based. This is a great opportunity to solicit employee feedback at each step of the goal process – from brainstorming a broad set of initial goals, to identifying priority areas to focus on, to refining and finalizing the final goals. Participation in the process can help the staff feel ownership of the objectives, and they may be able to identify issues or weak links that upper management isn’t aware of.
Second, a clear system of accountability must be established to ensure that progress is being made towards each goal. Your accountability plan should include who is responsible for which tasks, the expected timeframe, and how communication will be handled. Be sure that that every employee is included and they’re aware of their role in reaching the goals! Provide opportunities for teams to ask questions and gain clarity on any parts of the plan that they’re unsure about, and
maintain an open-door policy throughout the process. Having oversight and a supportive approach to the process will help ensure you can successfully reach your safety goals.
Any barriers or challenges that arise in meeting those benchmarks can provide another opportunity to workshop with individual teams to gather direct feedback and build consensus on how to solve the problems that arise. Along the same lines, it’s important to mitigate change and cultivate awareness around how plan adjustments may be needed in response to transitions that occur – such as upgrading a piece of machinery or hiring a new supervisor – which may bring new risks along with them. Your planning should be flexible enough to accommodate those changes or any other course corrections that need to be made, while communicating with all the stakeholders involved as shifts are implemented. Emphasize keeping employees informed and engaged about the ways in which even small changes could impact workplace safety. A supportive atmosphere that encourages open communication is key to forming a proactive safety culture. Finally, it’s important to have an efficient EHS system to provide centralized tracking and reporting – helping your teams manage incidents and ensure compliance without unnecessarily increasing their administrative burden. The right safety software can be the capstone in developing safety culture for a business, providing comprehensive solutions across the scope of operations.
Using Technology to Strengthen Your Safety Efforts
It’s no secret that EHS professionals have embraced the technology revolution to improve safety performance. Insights from a recent EHS Today report show that 84% of EHS professionals have implemented technology programs to strengthen safety culture.
Modern advancements make it easier than ever to utilize the latest technology – streamlining everything from employee training, safety incident tracking, data analysis and reporting, and so much more. An EHS system can revolutionize your workplace risk management and safety process from start to finish to ensure efficiency, accountability, legal compliance, and effective results in just a few simple steps.
Again, start with your staff: High quality employee training begins with a detailed new hire orientation, but it shouldn’t stop there. Using a comprehensive EHS system can empower you to automatically flag continuing education at specific intervals (such as quarterly, annually, at key times of year, etc.), adjust training plans to compensate for safety incidents, and even push out mobile safety updates to employees on the job in real-time via their smartphone or other device. Keeping your training program up-to-date and effective is a key factor in establishing a strong safety culture, empowering employees to focus on the right practices from their first day on the job while also keeping up with shifting regulations, equipment changes, and technological progress. You’ll be able to see the status of each employee’s training plan at a glance, and easily manage any missed requirements or outdated information.
An increasing shift to mobile-first solutions is good news for creating a workplace culture focused on safety and risk management. Using a mobile-friendly EHS solution makes it possible for teams to deal cooperatively with problems in the moment, before they become a major liability. Take a snapshot, record documentation, communicate with co-workers and management, flag an issue, and document action steps as they’re taken. By clearly and efficiently documenting your incident management from start to finish in real time, you’ll never have to worry about a potential risk going unseen, being miscommunicated, or handled poorly.
Once you’ve established the foundation for better safety practices, an EHS system plays an important role in keeping ongoing implementation on track. In addition to monitoring and tracking safety incidents and compliance, you can easily generate evaluation reports to analyze trends, flag problem areas, and identify the root cause of an issue based on your actual data. Go above and beyond to be able to effectively communicate with management about safety risks and showcase the return on investing in better safety practices and creating a strong safety culture in the workplace. Providing smart insights demonstrates to all stakeholders involved what’s working and why!
Identifying EHS Systems That Get Results
If you’ve decided that an EHS system is the next step in building a culture of safety at your business, but aren’t sure where to start, consider these factors: An effective system will be employee-focused, with tools and reporting that are easily accessible to all of the staff involved. Don’t get bogged down in flashy features that won’t provide a tangible benefit to your company. The software should be intuitive, easy to use, and provide readily available technical support. Not every employee will need the same access to information and reports, so consider a solution that provides a customizable dashboard view for each person in the organization – making it simple for them to find the unique tools they need to do their job well. Don’t limit yourself to one platform, operating system, or type of device: An effective system needs to be flexible enough to function on any device so that it can be accessed anytime, anywhere – from out in the field to the operations office. The majority of your employees aren’t sitting at a desk in front of a computer all day every day, so their EHS system shouldn’t be deskbound either! A mobile-first risk management approach helps ensure efficiency by allowing staff to utilize information in real time to avoid, minimize, or resolve safety issues as they arise.
Look For Key EHS System Features
Your business’s unique needs will determine what features will best support your safety culture, but the following can serve as a good initial checklist:
Audit and Inspection Management – Compile and catalog safety audit and inspection records, evaluate company data, view inspection history, ensure legal compliance with all local and federal regulations, create and customize inspection checklists, track follow-up actions to address issues, and provide administrators with a comprehensive access point to oversee it all.
COSHH Assessment – Create COSHH exposure groupings of staff for training and compliance, view and manage COSHH risk assessments, attach accompanying images and documentation, build flexible graphs for reporting, track comparative data, and link assessments to specific clients, locations, or teams.
Failure Modes and Effects Analysis (FMEA) – Monitor high-risk areas and assess potential changes to reduce risk, improve quality assurance, implement proactive solutions, and evaluate product and process failures.
Compliance Management – Document permits and track permitting or licensing renewals, track legal requirements and regulations, create customized compliance checklists, prepare for audits, and satisfy ISO 14001/OSHAS 18001/ANSI Z10 requirements.
Process Hazard Analysis – Manage and identify risks, streamline PHA assessments for flexibility, demonstrate compliance, management of change for safety, and reporting on results.
Respirator Fit Testing – Record test results, import data from respirator fit testing units including the Portacount™ and OHD™ units, search and view by employee, track staff medical clearances or work restrictions, and track testing equipment usage.
Behavior-Based Safety – Create or customize staff questionnaires, identify priority areas for improvement, spot employee behavioral trends, track results, and promote increased employee engagement.
Business Intelligence – Develop customizable analytics and reporting, manage data dashboards, collect and compile information, and share insights with leadership and key stakeholders for effective change.
Metrics – Create and track custom metrics and measurements, implement formulas for strategic calculations, automatically send notifications and reminders, streamline data entry, and view the latest information from your business.
Safety culture is more than just a buzzword. It’s an integral part to having a healthy, successful business that benefits both employees and shareholders. Don’t take its importance for granted, or leave it to chance. Take proactive steps to develop and foster a culture of safety in your organization.