A report from McKinsey Global Institute, simply titled “Good health is good business. Here’s why,” explains the importance of employee health for lasting economic benefits and points out that chronic health issues such as back pain and headache cause a 5% decrease in productivity. Not only is the avoidance of sickness important but also the promotion of employee well-being. Here’s an example of note: A UK-based public sector employer that co-developed and implemented a flexible and multifaceted health promotion toolkit based on an employee survey, was able to reduce absence due to illnesses by 44%, from an average of 4.3 days per employee a year to 2.4 days.
Apart from infections, mental health and ergonomics have also gained importance. The McKinsey report cites the example of a BMW car production plant in Germany that redesigned a production line keeping ergonomics in mind to reduce the physical stress on older workers. This brought the productivity level on par with lines where a younger workforce worked. The success of this program has encouraged the company to replicate it in other BMW plants.
Health and safety even in a non-hazardous industry is no more about prevention and cost avoidance alone. It is about improving productivity and thereby the bottom line with improved employee engagement and loyalty. The health and safety measures go beyond the need for regulatory compliance and become a part of the organizational culture in a self-feeding cycle.
Digital Technologies Further the Health and Safety Cause
While the stress on health and safety is increasing and the benefit there for all to see, the challenges are many, especially for highly regulated businesses. The globalization of supply chains, offsite location of manufacturing units, outsourcing of production (partly or wholly) and now the implementation of remote working models have made it harder for businesses to ensure the health and safety of their employees using traditional, manual methods.
To make it truly top-notch, identify and mitigate risks, respond to events and near misses in a timely manner and continuously improve the health and safety parameters, businesses need next-gen Safety 4.0 solutions.
Some of the key technologies that can help businesses achieve their health & safety goals include:
|Data, Analytics & Visualization||A risk-based approach to safety management|
|AI/ML Models||Predictive insights to prevent future events and deal with near-misses|
|Cloud-based & Mobile-ready Solution||Incident reporting from anywhere, anytime|
|System of Collaboration||Ease of collaboration amongst key stakeholders|
|User-centric Product Management||The Health & Safety Product must be designed for the end-user, with robust document and training management built-in|
#1 – Data and Analytics
The role of data is much talked about today in the context of informed decision making for formulating strategies across business processes. Data analytics plays a vital role in safety management as well. Some of the key ways in which data can help businesses improve safety include:
- Identifying risks
- Prioritizing them based on the severity
- Historical data to identify trends
Safety leaders can have a finger on the pulse of the potential health and safety risks in the organization to make informed decisions for mitigating, remedying, or removing the risks and improving employee safety. Business leaders can formulate strategies for continuous improvement, training, and mitigation for long term benefits and improved productivity. Their commitment to employee health and safety will reassure employees and improve their engagement in organizational growth as well as their own welfare.
#2 – Artificial Intelligence/Machine Learning
The data in combination with AI/ML capabilities can enable businesses to predict future events and prevent their occurrence. It can help understand the cause and effect of changes on the health and safety of employees and processes, identify the root cause of problems as well as effect continuous improvement.
#3 – Cloud-based, Mobile-ready Solution
Leveraging cloud, a next-gen safety management system can facilitate reporting of events even from remote locations, anytime. Employees can take a photo of the event or near miss and upload it, and do it even anonymously if they fear repercussions. If there is a network issue, the report can be synchronized when the network is available. Documentation and auditing also become easier due to the centralization of processes using the cloud. Visibility into the incident management workflow and sharing of corrective action taken reassures employees of organizational commitment to their health and safety and encourages them to be more participative.
#4 – System of Collaboration
Safety leaders can now collaborate with teams across geographies and with suppliers for bi-directional communication, workflows and alerts, that facilitates identifying issues sooner and easily escalating when necessary. It provides a 360-degree view of enterprise-wide processes and improves compliance and continuous improvement. Sharing of information, updates, and announcements across the organization becomes easier.
#5 – User-centric Product Management
From a product perspective, it is critical for a safety management system to be designed with the end-user in mind. For instance, safety behavior is not only about identifying gaps and risks but also reinforcing positive behaviors by recognizing them, appreciating and rewarding them, and sharing them with the company. This facilitates reinforcing positive behavior. The Safety Management System must be designed for enhancing the overall safety culture. Yes, risk management and incident management are critical modules of an SMS. But, it is critical to build a product that understands the end-user mindset carefully and deeply. The safety leaders need the information of incidents that can be highlighted as an example of good safety behavior, and a safety management solution that enables this will go a long way in improving safety parameters more than mere reporting of unpleasant events and near misses.
The cloud-based, scalable, and AI-powered EHS Solution from ComplianceQuest, built on Salesforce.com, is a robust and scalable system that provides all the features needed to empower employees and improve organizational health and safety.
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