Accessible Next-Gen Technologies for Safety Leaders
Workplace safety is no longer just a matter of regulatory compliance. Better safety performance will have a direct impact on key business growth, and financial metrics. For instance, a workplace that makes workers feel safe and cherished - will result in an engaged team and they will adopt a ‘safety-first’ approach to getting things done. They will proactively spot risks and hazardous processes, and play a key role in preventing accidents/incidents.
The technological advancements in today’s digital world have further empowered employers and employees with tools and technologies to increase workplace safety and productivity. Already, AI/ML has gone beyond being mere buzzwords and is embedded in many solutions including safety management software, to automate workplace safety processes. Continuing this trend, the adoption of other evolving technologies can make businesses future-ready.
The incorporation of Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) goals by many organizations has also further spurred workplace safety management, which is a subset and critical to meeting ESG goals. Workplace safety has also expanded beyond preventing injuries and illnesses to include wellness as a goal. This includes mental wellness, work-life balance, proactive management of health risks, inclusivity, environmental safety, and so on.
Some of the important technologies to further ensure safety excellence in the workplace include:
Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR): VR and AR can be used effectively in improving safety training as well as risk management. It can help simulate the work environment to deliver immersive safety training and identify hazards and their impact on workplace safety. This can help prioritize hazard management to minimize safety incidents. It can also be used for providing remote assistance and for maintenance.
Key Question to Answer: Is there a cost-effective AR/VR tool you can embed into your safety inspection or safety training process? If yes, why not evaluate it?
Drones: In high-risk zones, instead of sending inspectors and endangering their safety, drones can be used to assess the structural integrity of the site, monitor emissions, and improve response during emergencies.
Key Question to Answer: Are you an enterprise that is looking for a better way to manage safety inspections or capture safety data from “difficult to reach” remote locations? Have you explored the idea of using drones with sensors or cameras to capture some data?
Wearables: Smart wearables such as sensor-based PPEs and wearable watches can help ensure the health and well-being of workers by monitoring critical parameters. They can also be used when entering high-risk zones to alert in case of hazards and risks.
Key Question to Answer: Explored the world of sensor-embedded safety wearables yet? Start with making a list of affordable wearables for your enterprise.
Computer-Vision: A similar technology is computer vision that can act as "your" eyes in high-hazard zones to warn in case of any potential risks. Industrial IoT devices now can converge computer vision, sensors, and real-time data capture - all of which can feed into your AI and analytics engines.
Key Question to Answer: You'll be surprised how accessible and affordable IoT technology has become. Whether you manage an oil rig or an industrial plant, chances are you can use Industrial IoT devices to make your life easier in terms of data capture.
Robotics: For some high-risk tasks, robots and hyper-automation may be more effective and a safer alternative than using humans. This can reduce the risk to employees and increase the efficiency of the tasks. For instance, at warehouses, robots can now handle several difficult and repetitive tasks that may be risky for humans.
Key Question to Answer: When it comes to machinery/equipment handling and maintenance, there’s certainly room for improvement in terms of using robots. The question is: what does your shop floor or industrial setup look like, and where can robotics play a role?
AI and Advanced Analytics: The data gathered from these devices can provide insights into the risks and hazards. This can help to identify the impact and frequency of occurrence of safety incidents and help safety leaders and managers make informed decisions to improve safety.
Key Question to Answer: Most of the modern tech plays a key role in acting as input-gathering vehicles to your analytical and AI models. Start with using AI-enabled automation, risk management, and advanced analytics tools for high-risk areas where incidents are repetitively happening.
Environmental Sustainability: Reducing carbon footprint and adopting sustainable practices has become a necessity for businesses today to minimize environmental impact. These can be achieved through the adoption of energy-efficient processes, reducing waste, and increasing the use of renewable energy sources. Efficient solutions can be implemented to monitor parameters and implement provisions to improve sustainability.
Key Question to Answer: Is there a better way to automate the process of meeting your environmental goals? Can automation be used to enhance data collection and process improvement of your environment management system?
Incident /Near-Miss/Safety Observations Reporting: Tools to report incidents, if required anonymously, will empower employees to document and record events as they unfold. It will also be transparent for them to know the status of their observations and establish a culture of safety and accountability without fear of retribution.
Key Question to Answer: Does your organization’s safety management system make it easy for the entire organization to become safety-first? Can anyone report safety observations or near-misses or minor process flaws? Can anyone report risky tasks being performed?
Automation of Safety Workflows and Processes
Increasingly, automating workflows has become important to minimize errors, improve transparency, enhance the effectiveness of the SMS, and minimize human errors.
In addition to the adoption of digital technologies, businesses will also be required to develop holistic safety management systems. Some of the key trends that will drive safety excellence include:
- Holistic Health and Wellness Programs: Not just physical health, but emotional, social, and economic well-being will also play a key role in ensuring safety excellence. Providing business continuity, ensuring inclusivity, fair compensation, mitigating stress, etc. will contribute to making workplaces better, safer, and compliant.
- Leadership Commitment: Along with creating safety policies, leadership commitment will play a key role in ensuring the SOPs are embraced and integrated with the operational workflows. This will ensure end-to-end automation of safety management to improve risk assessment, mitigation, and continuous improvement.
- Focus on Continuous Improvement: Implementing safety management is not a one-time activity. Implementing measures to track and monitor the performance of the safety management system and finetuning it based on inputs and feedback from various teams will be essential to ensure safety excellence.
- Integrating Safety with Partners: Businesses will also have to ensure the various partners they do business with, implement and prioritize safety excellence. This is essential to ensure the holistic implementation of EHS across the entire supply chain.
- Resilience: COVID-19 has especially highlighted the need for business resilience by being prepared for contingencies and natural disasters. This is critical for disaster management and business continuity.
- Behavior-Based Safety: Despite improving safety management, serious injuries, and fatalities continue to plague industries across the spectrum. Systems to monitor safety behavior and observations are gaining importance to foster a culture of safety.
- Data-Driven Safety Management: Integrated data management is essential for providing insights and identifying safety trends in the organization for proactive and preventive safety management. Cloud-based solutions such as ComplianceQuest built on the Salesforce platform will enable businesses to efficiently manage and improve safety excellence in organizations across industries.
To learn more about ComplianceQuest's Safety Management Solution, visit: https://www.compliancequest.com/lp/ehs/