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In this recap of our Verdantix webinar, “Rethinking Your Role – The Rising Importance of the EHS Professional within the Evolving Risk Landscape,” we pull out high-level takeaways in a 5-minute read, including why there’s a need for more proactive technology, technology use case examples, and challenges and tips for adapting to a new EHS technology.

With mounting challenges to the EHS professional – from COVID-19 to climate change – there is an even more urgent need to be more proactive and strategic to ensure the health and safety of workers, and technology can help bridge that gap. In October 2021, Sean Salvas, Market Strategy Lead, EHS, Origami Risk co-presented with Tom Brown, EHS Technology Analyst, Verdantix on the webinar “Rethinking Your Role: The Rising Importance of the EHS Professional within the Evolving Risk Landscape,” highlighting:

  • The need for a proactive technology
  • Technology use case examples
  • Challenges and tips to adopting new EHS technology
The Need for a Proactive Approach

Tom kicked off the presentation discussing the increasing trend of organizations piloting and adopting new technology, primarily in response to the pandemic, as referenced in the report ”Global Corporate Survey 2021: EHS Budgets, Priorities And Tech Preferences”. As we’ve previously highlighted, EHS leaders are realizing they can no longer rely on antiquated processes like paper and spreadsheets to combat emerging challenges and therefore increasingly investing in EHS technology to ensure a nimble response. The end goal of this investment is dynamic risk management, which Tom notes is defined as “a holistic visualization of EHS risk built using real-time data streams, that enables efficient reactive and proactive mitigation of risk.” 

Read Next: Why the COVID-19 Pandemic is a Catalyst for Technology Improvement

Unfortunately, traditional EHS data (e.g., near miss data, incident reporting, etc.) doesn’t provide this kind of insight, as indicated in the image below. Some of the challenges associated with existing EHS technology include data silos and outdated workflows and processes, meaning that the meaningful insights that could be interpreted are foregone. Without technology more aligned to automated workflows and real-time, integrated data systems, critical risks cannot be effectively mitigated. Conversely, leading indicators can help put proactive processes and controls in place to prevent critical events before they occur.

EHS Iceberg

Traditional EHS technology doesn’t provide the full picture, meaning technology investments may not go as far as anticipated.

Proactive Technology Use Cases

Sean next went into a deeper dive into the types of tools that can help implement proactive controls and procedures, specifically highlighting process safety management

Process safety management wheel that provides a visual aid to identify hazards and risk across all company facilities

Process safety management helps identify hazards and risks across facilities to ensure proactive controls are in place.

While process safety management itself is a more proactive approach, unfortunately the processes to implement this may be outdated. Challenges with legacy systems (which may include copious amounts of paper or multiple spreadsheets) include a high administrative burden, which means EHS team resources are spread too thin to identify and address major issues.

Read Next: The hidden costs of legacy risk systems

With more risks emerging for EHS leaders, this becomes even more unsustainable – but luckily there are electronic and automated technology systems available to ensure issues do not slip through the cracks and to lighten the administrative load. Furthermore, collecting data in a single, centralized system can enable powerful trending and data analysis to help make the EHS professional even more effective.

Sean then walked through several process safety management technology tools, including:

  • Job Safety Analysis
  • Safety Data Sheets
  • Permit to Work
 Our electronic safety data sheet (SDS) management

Electronic safety data sheet (SDS) management is one example of how technology can eliminate administrative burden and get a more optimized view of chemical risk in real-time.

Best Practices

After discussing some of the high-level frameworks and use cases for proactive EHS technology, Tom and Sean dove into a conversation around best practices for implementing that technology. They emphasized the importance of getting buy-in across the organization – from leadership to the various departments and workers in the field. 

After selecting a technology vendor, some tips for ensuring buy-in at the leadership level include:

  • Justifying ROI by showing cost savings or increases in productivity 
  • Showing proof points such as case studies
  • Demonstrating the strength of the vendor’s culture and value by investing in a meeting with the executive leadership of the vendor

EHS leaders should also ensure other departments within the organization understand why investment in EHS technology is important for them. For example, operations departments would care most about increased efficiency and productivity by implementing EHS technology, allowing them to be safe without slowing down.

Additionally, Origami’s clients and our team’s real world experience have demonstrated practices to implement at the worker level in order to ensure buy-in of EHS technology and promote a positive safety culture:

  • Using technology as a training tool
  • Selecting easy-to-use and mobile technology to ensure worker adoption
  • Investing in automated workflows to reduce manual tasks that can impact productivity
  • Gamifying and rewarding positive safety practices
Where to Start

But where should EHS leaders start when they think about implementing new technology? The answer is that it depends on where their organization falls in terms of maturity. For less mature organizations, the right place to start is to deploy mobile applications and make sure your data is housed in a single system. Once you have your data in a centralized platform, you can ensure more robust analytics without the nightmare of maintaining formulas in multiple spreadsheets or systems – meaning you can start to meet your goals of dynamic risk management. Sean notes, “This means having real-time visibility into the areas that require the most attention and investment to protect critical assets, people, and people in order to prevent losses and reduce adverse events.”

Overview of our analytics dashboard where data is housed in a single system

An example dashboard that can be used to report on incidents and near misses across divisions and locations when data is housed in a single system.

Visit our process safety management or EHS analytics pages to learn more about how you can become more proactive in your EHS role. To view the full webinar, access the recording here.