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Till the end of 2019, digital transformation was an inevitable part of growth but happening at a much slower pace than now. According to a Mckinsey report, within eight weeks of the world coming to a standstill due to the pandemic and lockdowns, digital transformation efforts moved five years forward. This accelerated digitization happened across segments from CPG companies and financial institutions to healthcare and manufacturing. In the manufacturing sector, embracing Quality 4.0 and Industry 4.0 became the norm to deal with disruptions in the supply chain, new safety & quality management workflows, and remote collaboration.

These days, coming back to work in manufacturing has created stress and anxiety for employees. Employers are creating and enhancing safety cultures leveraging technologies to help relieve some of the stress and drive productivity. This has naturally created a need for high-speed secure connections, cloud-based workflow management, ease of collaboration among remote teams, and mobile-readiness without compromising on quality or time-to-market. Technologies such as IoT, AI, analytics that would have eventually wound their way into an organization have become essential for survival. The COO of an auto component manufacturing company told us that for the first time in his fifty years at the helm – he had done a management audit remotely for a new line in one of his company’s plants.

The pandemic has also brought sharper focus to the health, safety, and well-being of people, both in the workplace and in remote locations. Digitalization of health and safety management was often a “slow” process due to the lack of budgets and difficulty in getting management approvals. It was often viewed as a cost center. This has significantly changed with the current crisis elevating the process to an efficiency and productivity perspective driving the revenue and business objectives.

While regulations such as OSHA have always stressed the need for robust health and safety practices, the Covid-19 pandemic has reinforced the need for automating the management of health and safety due to the added complexities and reduced resources available to manage those new requirements.

Moreover, leaders have realized that employee well-being must become front and center of the strategic decision-making process at companies. The health and safety leader now has one of the most important jobs within an enterprise – that of mitigating risks associated with health and safety. Employee well-being and a renewed focus on the health and safety of your people are no longer optional. They are “must-haves” for any enterprise.

Need for Digitization and Its Benefits

A sound health and safety system is one based on risk assessment and mitigation. Manual systems can make it difficult to identify potential threats and near misses may go unreported due to the difficulty in keeping track of the action taken. Monitoring the health and safety of employees in remote locations can also be a challenge due to a lack of visibility and traceability.

A successful health and safety management process must be enabled with cloud-based automation to provide access to enterprise-wide data and be part of the digital transformation of the organization. The impact of health and safety spans sales and operations planning and the complete supply chain. The incorporation of health and safety has additionally become a critical component of the Business Continuity Planning process.

The Health & Safety (H&S) management system must therefore act as an integral system of record with other systems for collaboration. It must enable ease of teamwork to deal with health and safety risks in a timely fashion, ideally with a proactive and preventive mindset.

The H&S system drives collaboration to facilitate policy formulation, strategic documentation to prevent future events, data-driven tracking of all key safety metrics including near misses or near misses turning into full-blown incidents. With AI and next-generation data visualization, patterns and trends become easier to spot and address.

A good health and safety system needs both management commitment as well as employee participation, with proactive reporting of health and safety incidents and near-misses, documentation, and reporting for mitigation and prevention. With digitization, management oversight of safety violations, tracking of corrective actions taken, and communicating to all stakeholders becomes easier. This can help with the identification of risks, prioritization based on the risk level, devising mitigative actions, and improving overall employee morale.

Improved Employee Engagement and Collaboration to drive workplace safety efforts

Employees find reporting of incidents easier if the health and safety system has an incident reporting tool that enables them to maintain anonymity. A system based on Industry 4.0 technology allows the uploading of photos and in case of unsteady network conditions, synchronizes whenever the network connection becomes available.

Most importantly, it ensures that all “actions” related to an incident or near miss are taken and the corrective action/preventive action plans and risk mitigation efforts are brought to closure. It gives employees, suppliers, and customers the confidence that this is a company that takes care of its people and their health and safety. The benefit is an increase in brand loyalty that supports future growth objectives and drives productivity for customer satisfaction.

In these times of duress, businesses need to allocate time and resources for periodic audits and inspections to ensure compliance to safety standards. Documents need to be ready and the correct version easily accessible to save time as well as improve the efficiency of document management. By automating health and safety, the document management system can be made an integral part of the health and safety workflow, thereby reducing the burden on the employees and freeing them to focus on their core tasks.

It is essential for businesses to keep track of regulatory changes to remain compliant and fine-tune their health and safety practices. Different countries have different regulatory requirements and the units located in those geographies need to be compliant with necessary regulations. This can become easier with a cloud-based, robust platform such as ComplianceQuest’s EHS system, built on the scalable Salesforce platform. It enables end-to-end integration of health and safety workflows across the supply chain and being modular, can be cost-effective too.

Find out how the CQ EHS platform can help improve your health and safety program across the company. http://www.compliancequest.com/work-health-and-safety-management-system/

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