Every workplace has its own unique ‘culture’, but within that there is also the concept of ‘safety culture.’ Safety culture is extremely important when it comes to engaging employees and increasing their knowledge of what it takes to maintain a safe workplace. The first thing that any organization needs to establish when developing its safety culture is what ‘safety’ means to that organization and for its employees. The idea of safety itself can vary from person to person and may change depending on their personal risk assessment. Therefore, the definition of ‘safety’ and its importance to the business must be established and shared throughout the organization. An enterprise EHS software solution is one way to spread safety culture throughout your entire organization, no matter how big or small.
The First Step is EHS Software
Before any kind of plan can be created and employees trained according to its various components, a technology needs to be chosen to help manage the plan and update it on an as-needed basis. EHS software is the key to building the foundation of an effective safety culture. But how can a software solution help to create this culture within the workplace? First of all, EHS software is designed to ensure that all regulations and laws are being met in terms of safety in the industry that it has been utilized for. For example, if you work within the automotive industry, there are a variety of protocols that have to be followed to ensure employee safety whether they are working on an assembly line or in the office. This platform ensures that any action plans adhere to current regulations and adapt to them as they change. The ability to constantly update according to regulatory changes means that no matter what, employees are subject to the highest degree of safety possible according to the in place regulatory structure. To get the most out of this software and develop a comprehensive safety plan, there are a number of steps that should be taken.
The Second Step is Knowing the Risks
Each organization has a certain set of risks that have to be planned for and possibility mitigated. Developing an effective action plan requires actively analysing what the risks are and examining past trends to predict future risks. Going through multiple paper incident reports can be very time consuming, and performing a risk assessment based on these can be time intensive and require a lot of manpower to undertake. This means that safety managers may not be as on the floor ensuring safety protocols are being met because they are otherwise engaged. One of the first things that should be done once an EHS software system has been selected is to manually input all of these reports so that the system can analyse it and create trends for your risk team to explore.
Another component that would be helpful to add to your new arsenal of software while building your safety culture is incident reporting software. When an incident occurs after the action plan has been implemented, it can be immediately uploaded and an incident report filed detailing exactly what happened, who was involved, what shift, and any other relevant details. All of the elements are put into place so that this type of incident can be prevented in the future. Without this additional component, incident reporting might not be completed as efficiently or logged according to in-house reporting mechanisms that have yet to be streamlined. This streamlining of reporting means that incidents will be reported as soon as they happen and not when all parties concerned are able to provide a written report, which could be days later. In order to effectively avoid incidents, they have to be reported as soon as they happen so that preventative measures can be put into place as quickly as possible.
The Third Step is Creating and Implementing the Plan
Once you have configured the software for your industry and jurisdiction, and identified any unique risks inherent to your business, you can begin to implement your safety plan. If you have an existing action plan, it must be examined to see if it needs to be revised before it is uploaded into the new technology system.
For an action plan to be truly effective there must be ingrained processes and procedures that every employee, whether they are at the top or the bottom of the rank ladder, knows and follows. Everybody should know how to file an incident report, or what to do in the event of an incident depending on the department or process it occurs in. These best practices are what will keep employees safe in the long run. Once an action plan has been settled on then it can be entered into the EHS software system and rolled out across the organization.
The action plan and its various components will be made available to all employees to see, which means that any training or orientations that need to be completed will be available as either portal sessions via the software or through in-person workshops. Because individual profiles can be set up for each employee within the software, it is easy to flag which training session(s) they need to complete, as well as any specific considerations for their individual needs (such as accommodations for disabilities). This also means that when an incident occurs, the employee profiles can be immediately brought up and made available to managers to ensure they receive the proper care they need, with any pre-existing conditions or allergies taken into consideration.
The Fourth Step is Managing the Plan
Once the action plan is established and employees have begun to undergo training to familiarize themselves with the new safety procedures, the next step begins. Creating that close-knit safety culture where everyone is responsible and accountable for their own and their co-workers’ actions requires active HSE management. Making sure that everyone is protecting themselves and the environment is a tall order which means management needs to be a top priority. Health and safety managers will be able to assess the components of the action plan that have been effective and others that may need to be adapted. Metrics need to be constantly collected and analysed as they will paint a comprehensive picture of what is going on on a daily basis and what ongoing trends are developing. Managers will also need to monitor whether employees are adhering to the new plan, or whether there is some confusion about or resistance to the new changes which could interfere with compliance.
What the Metrics Will Tell You
The metrics created from all of the data input into the EHS software will give managers a good idea of just how often incidents are occurring, how many days since there have been one, how productive certain sectors are or if they are less productive due to risk, and a variety of other things. Let’s take a look at an example of what happened when an incident was reported at a large automotive factory and how safety software used in support of an effective action plan worked to mitigate the risk and re-establish a safe and healthy working environment.
After an Accident Occurs
One employee who was working on the assembly lined was injured while on shift, which caused a piece of equipment to shut down. This immediately halted production and backed up the rest of the line. As soon as the incident happened, everyone on shift knew what their role was in terms of protocol and the assistance expected of them. They rushed to the employees’ side, administered first aid and reported the incident to the shift manager. The manager was able to log in to the system, pull up the employee’s profile to ensure there were no underlying medical issues that had to be accounted for, and then was able to input a report electronically immediately. Once this report was input, it was assessed by the technology to see if any other incidents such as this had occurred, and then a plan was developed to prevent future repeats of such an incident. The ability to immediately input info to avoid future injuries is one of the most important things when it comes to establishing an effecting safety culture.
This is Just One Facet of Establishing Safety Culture
Safety culture can’t be established overnight, and software alone can’t do it for you. Implementing safety software solution will go a long way towards helping you spread best practices and messages about the importance of compliance, but there is more you can do to support your initiatives. Management should lead by example, both by adhering to safety practices themselves and by highlighting teams with a low incident record or employee suggestions that have improved safety.
Employees want to know that their safety is a priority, especially if they work in a dangerous industry such as construction or auto assembly. When management models the importance of safety culture, employees feel confident that every effort is being made to keep them safe and healthy. When safety protocol information and training is made easily accessible, they feel empowered to maintain the safety of their own workspace. Together, workers at all levels of the enterprise can build a powerful and sustainable safety culture.