How to Select The Right Cutting-Edge Safety Solutions and Get a Leadership Buy-in
It is easier to implement cutting-edge safety solutions when leadership understands and champions the changes.
- By Som Mukherjee
- Apr 20, 2021
Cutting-edge safety solutions use Artificial Intelligence (AI), Internet of Things (IoT) and other engineering marvels to ensure a system of safety could be otherwise difficult to reach. These solutions use a combination of a machine’s cognitive functions and a network of physical objects that are embedded with sensors, software and other technologies. This modern technology helps to establish a safe and productive environment.
Let’s see a few of the well-established cutting-edge safety solutions below.
This is one of the most popular and already well-established technologies. Workers can use wearable electronics to alert in case of chemical or radiation exposure to track physical parameters or motionless situation of a worker.
Never mind Industrial Robots, Collaborative Robots (Cobots) are the newest additions in the industries to eliminate unsafe, repetitive and monotonous jobs to increase productivity. Cobots are easy to install with fewer and simple programs. They are designed to work alongside humans rather than in their own space and not necessarily always autonomous, instead they are often taught by example.
Artificial Intelligence enabled Decision Support System (AI-DSS) is a combination of AI, IoT, Big Data and Analytics that helps to make smarter decisions in higher-risk situations by collecting and analyzing volumes of data, finding out the issues and offering possible solutions. This is being used in risk assessment, business continuity planning, medical diagnosis, safeguarding of cyber frauds, preventive maintenance of equipment, etc.
VR & AR
VR (Virtual Reality) & AR (Augmented Reality) are well-established technologies for interactive, hands-on and sometimes highly cost-effective trainings. AR can also be used to display critical parameters/SOPs/profiles on the equipment for easy and quick information.
Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV) or Drones are being used at workplaces for real-time monitoring of large construction sites/tall structures, mapping sites & equipment, inspection of equipment leakage or chemical exposure, transportation of tools or equipment, etc.
Software as a Service (Saas) is already very popular with safety professionals for its ease to use for incident management, data analysis, risk management compliance tracking, etc. It is basically a cloud-based software system that is available with subscription or licensing.
Blockchain for Safety
This is one of the latest and emerging concepts for workplace safety. Blockchain is “a decentralized database of transactions between peers that is secure and trustworthy.” Security from alteration, transparency and anonymity makes it increasingly popular, not only to the financial service industry, but to others, as well. Some of the solutions like smart contracts, open anonymous feedback, company profiling, etc. might be the future norms for the universal safety system.
Selecting the Right Cutting-Edge Safety Solutions
The above solutions might seem very promising to you to implement at your workplace. Before going for approval, you need to find out if a particular solution is at all needed or not. That can be decided by evaluating whether it will add value to the organization and/or bring a positive return in line with the company policies. A lot of time, cost and effort are required for not only implementing these solutions but also to manage the changes efficiently later on. Hence, one must act judiciously to find out the right solution(s) first, and for that, one or more of the following tools can be used.
This is a formal process to determine the gaps between the current conditions and the desired conditions. It could either improve the unsafe conditions or help to accomplish continuous improvements. This can be achieved by requirement gatherings, analyzing the requirements and brainstorming the probable solutions. For example, if you received an incident report related to a working alone situation and you think that there could be gaps in resources to effectively conduct the existing emergency responses in that scenario, then you need to gather information, analyze the requirements and find out the gaps. After a proper need analysis, you might figure out that a motionless/fall detection wearable technology could be helpful to eliminate those gaps.
This is the best tool to have an idea of what is going wrong or to indicate the the areas of improvement. A simple Pareto analysis of Lost Time Incidents (LTI) (a lagging indicator) could highlight what kind of injuries are taking place more frequently and what needs to be addressed first. Now, if you found out that even after all the conventional safety controls as per the ‘Hierarchy of Controls,’ is happening then you might think one of the cutting-edge safety solutions like a Cobot could be helpful to reduce back injury exposure. A trend analysis of tracking and closing of action items of audit findings (a leading indicator) might outline whether the existing system is working fine, or a SaaS could be helpful.
Survey & Interview
These tools not only help to dig out the problems at the workplace but also established a positive environment because these will let employees feel empowered as well as give a head start to them that some changes are going to happen. This will definitely help to lower the resistance to change during the implementation phase. Moreover, sometimes you would be astonished by the feedback of simple solutions from the workers! However, these could be customized as per locations, departments or positions for more effective outcomes.
Using this research method, one can compare existing solutions with the industry bests or the best practices of the other companies and sometimes find well-established solutions that save time and effort. The idea behind benchmarking is learning from others not just copying from others. It consists of four steps: planning, analysis, action and review. For example, if a construction site reduced its injury rate by transporting materials using UAVs, then that could be one of the possible solutions in similar sites. However, one needs to analyze whether this solution will work in that specific site before selection.
This is basically evaluating an organization’s potential and resources. To fit a solution to its best or to avoid one, one needs to know the correct matrix of the organization which consists of personnel, work environment, operations and external stakeholders. One can follow a socio-technical model, cognitive model or other models to find out the strategic fit. For example, an aging workforce might not be as welcoming to the new technologies as a young workforce, the resources (money and/or skilled worker) might not be always available to the company to implement the certain solution(s), etc.
Once you are done with the above analyses, then you can brainstorm the data and can reach out to a conclusion which is the solution(s) that fit(s) best to fulfill the purpose(s).
Get a ‘Go’ Decision for Implementation
Just only highlighting the benefits or a sales pitch won’t help you to get buy-in from the management. You should take a 360-degree approach to influence and convince them. First, make a strong business case and then show them that the new solution doesn’t bring any unwanted risks to the existing system, and at last, highlight how all the important stakeholders are aligned nicely with it. Make a robust business case by using the following:
1. Strategic Alignment of Benefits
Outline how the benefits of your chosen solution are aligned with the company’s needs, policy and organization’s strategic plan. Establish these structured benefits with important backgrounds and supporting information. Data during the selection of the right solution might help you tremendously for this. Try to reflect the benefits as SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-bound) for better acceptance.
2. Cost-Benefit Analysis (CBA)
In this analysis, one tries to find out if the benefits or returns outweigh the projected or estimated costs and also compares the investments on the alternative solutions. To estimate the cost of the project, a person can use the Top-Down Approach (Delphi technique, Analogous technique) which is practical at the decision-making stage, or the Bottom-Up Approach (Template technique, Parametric technique) when detailed data is available for all the work packages for better accuracy. Next, find out the benefits as a dollar amount and then tally with the estimated cost. If benefits outweigh the cost, then you just established a business case for the chosen solution. You might need few other indices as well to make the case even stronger, like net present value (NPV), internal rate of return (IRR), return on investment (ROI), payback period, etc. If you have more than one solution to solve a problem, then you can compare the above data for a better business case.
3. Cost-effectiveness Analysis (CEA)
CEA is generally used instead of CBA when it’s not possible or realistic or inappropriate to assign a monetary value to the outcomes. It is often used in the health sector where outcomes are generally measured with quality-adjusted life years (QALY). However, this can be used to make your business case by showing how many lives could be saved. Lost time injuries would be avoided or how much carbon footprint could be reduced per unit of investment.
Based on the above data, senior management can easily evaluate a ‘Go/No Go’ decision for the solution(s). It’s very likely to get a ‘Go’ decision for a scenario where the solution passed the risk criteria with a robust business case and effective stakeholder management.