Integrated EHSQ: What it is and Why it Matters

Space exploration, pharmaceuticals, coal mining, renewable energy, health insurance, government initiatives-- they all have something in common. Today, every industry faces rising customer expectations, evolving competition and changing compliance requirements. Beyond risk mitigation and compliance, effective Environment, Health, Safety, and Quality (EHSQ) programs give organizations a competitive advantage. Harnessing data to gain insight and proactively improve operations can be the difference between market leadership and market obscurity.

Regulatory compliance, while important, is not the only factor driving a focus on strategic EHSQ– it's good for business and it's good for society.

Whether it's reducing emissions, protecting the surrounding community, or ensuring your workers' overall well-being, EHSQ can have a huge impact on your business. Companies that generate the best outcomes for their stakeholders also strive for excellence in these areas.

Research shows that companies with exemplary safety, health, and environmental programs outperformed the S&P 500 by 3-5 percent (Fabius R, Thayer R, Dixon BA, et al. 2013). These companies aren't driven by regulations and as laws get more lax, they don't get sloppy. Loose practices cost lots of money (upwards of billions of dollars), risk brand reputation, and decrease productivity.

Those who lag behind will struggle to survive in a global economy. The future of EHSQ and the success of your EHSQ program rests in three main areas: worker well-being, operational excellence, and compliance.

There is an emphasis on EHSQ management in organizations and industries of all sizes. EHSQ programs have become more comprehensive, and companies are investing more in programs, staffing, and software solutions.

The software that supports these programs should streamline management throughout the process and serve as an internal database, ready to pull and add information at the drop of a hat. It must be equipped with speedy, intuitive controls and include excellent customer support and user interface.

Value cannot be derived from a software management solution if it does not go into production in a reasonable and predictable amount of time, if users do not adopt the system, or if it fails to generate a tangible ROI. This can only be enabled through successful delivery on requirements, world-class ongoing support, and "dial tone"-grade operations. There will be a "culling of the EHSQ herd" based on this evolution.

There are several ways that organizations are working to increase their focus on EHSQ programs using innovative software:

Integrated EHSQ
Companies are standardizing processes across geographies, disciplines, supply chains, and more. They are also moving from a siloed strategy - where EHSQ teams are working separately - to an integrated approach where these departments openly communicate and work together to improve outcomes. From car manufacturers to fossil fuel harvesters to pharmaceutical researchers, organizations are beginning to understand the importance of an EHSQ program that includes transparent access to all areas of the company.

Connected EHSQ
Today’s businesses demand EHSQ software platforms that are available on any device for every user. Organizations are not willing to tolerate limitations on functionality or workflows, nor are they willing to use a solution that requires the download of a native app or is only available on certain devices. Having a connected solution allows EHSQ professionals to better monitor employees with greater consistency and clarity.

UCOR is a partnership of AECOM and CH2M HILL, under contract with the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to safely and efficiently clean up areas within the Oak Ridge Reservation that were affiliated with the Manhattan Project during World War II. UCOR's highly skilled workforce operates in an extremely challenging environment. Due to the presence of aging structures, facilities and infrastructures that were left behind by the Manhattan Project during World War II, UCOR employees are faced with potential radiological, chemical, biological and other industrial hazards.

In this high-stakes environment, it's vital that the company has an integrated EHS system structured in a way that's easy to coordinate and add data across departments. With a connected EHS program, UCOR's medical professionals have a detailed picture of each employee's health, including SEG (Similar Exposure Group) listing, laboratory blood testing, vital signs, historical diagnoses and medication list.

With the ability to connect with other departments through EHS software, UCOR's safety team is able to manage and eliminate any hazards, so that its employees leave the work site each day in the same condition in which they arrived. This has helped UCOR outperform the Bureau of Labor Statistics industry benchmarks by nearly 70 percent for more than three years.

Predictive EHSQ
Connected, integrated EHSQ programs also gives users instant access to a centralized data repository and predictive analytics.

Westmoreland Coal Company is the sixth-largest coal producer in North America. The company had an immense amount of data dispersed among its 17 operational facilities across the central portion of the United States and Canada, but no way to turn that data into actionable insight until it implemented a safety management software suite. By doing so, it was able to see the data in one clear place, make changes to programs based on success rates, and predict and prevent incidents through data analysis.

"If we had an employee who slipped and fell from a dozer in Ohio and a similar incident in another location, it could be several weeks before we realized that the same type of incident was occurring," said Jim Furlong, Westmoreland's VP of Global Safety. "Now, we can look at trend data quickly, conduct a root cause analysis, and put fixes in place to resolve issues. We can hold people more accountable."

Many EHSQ management solutions are already working on machine learning algorithms that will make this even easier and more accurate.

Within five years, the types of machine learning algorithms that we experience in everyday life (Netflix suggestions, Google's predictive search, etc.) will have a decided impact on EHSQ. This will enable companies to benchmark themselves against peer group comparators, see correlations in their data that they may have not been aware of, and receive predictive and prescriptive insights to improve their EHSQ programs.

The amount of helpful data pulled in from innovative tools like individual wearable devices will also enable exciting developments in predictive analytics, as companies are able to discover more about their employees' health and well-being.

Demographic EHSQ
Changing demographics and fast technological production changes will continue resulting in the introduction of new and changing EHSQ hazards. Aging workforces in developed countries will require new health and safety approaches. Millennial workers expect and demand a different relationship with their employers from the structure of their contracts through to the use of technology in the workplace. These challenges will drive a greater need for employee engagement in EHSQ programs, including more use of innovative technologies such as wearable sensors and health monitors.

Secure EHSQ
The next five years will see the threat to data security grow. Online attackers will increasingly target EHSQ and other types of valuable data, especially as security in the financial and personal data space grows. As more data is stored and shared, more sophisticated requirements for data security and data privacy will arise.

Organizations such sa NASA, UCOR, and OHS need to have EHSQ programs that ensure that safety of their data, while keeping the convenience of an integrated and well-connected system.

The market will continue towards an integrated approach when it comes to EHSQ management, and software providers must be ready.

During the next five years, we see a continuing increase in demand for integrated EHSQ systems and processes and an increasing demand for predictive capabilities alongside them. This integration takes on multiple dimensions for multinational organizations seeking to achieve standardization of EHS and EHSQ practices. It includes integration of functional disciplines, supply chains, and other company aspects that work with environmental, health, and safety standards to provide efficient, safe, and environmentally conscious programs.

If you don't want your company to get left behind, focus on improving safety standards and protecting employees while cutting down on safety-related expenses. Find an integrated EHSQ solution that works for you and implement it now.

Pam Bobbit is Director Product Marketing and Channels at Cority.

Posted on Aug 17, 2017

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