Employers have a responsibility to anticipate and manage operational risks to protect workers, ensure compliance and promote the health of the organization. Yet, many still struggle with managing workplace risks, whether it’s accurately assessing them, controlling them or getting the entire workplace involved in the process. Add to that an increasingly diverse workforce, complex regulations and the continued challenges surrounding COVID-19 — and those struggles increase exponentially.
Those looking for tools to help them manage risk often find what they need with software. Significant advancements in technology mean safety professionals no longer have to rely on paper systems or spreadsheets to help them track critical safety and compliance information. Software drives
expert processes so that every employee feels more empowered to participate in key safety tasks, such as risk identification, selection of controls, and development of corrective actions. With a more streamlined and standardized approach to risk management, safety professionals have what they need to achieve operational excellence.
As we enter a new year, now is the time to reexamine your risk management approach and determine whether today’s advanced software options can help you mitigate your workplace risks. Let’s take a closer look at some areas where software is making a difference.
Permit to work
Managing contractors and visitors across your entire organization is a critical component of managing operational risk. In addition to keeping unauthorized personnel off site, there’s a mountain of information to track, including badges, permits and training certifications. How confident are you that all your contractors have completed their orientation and safety courses, and have the right certifications?
There’s also the issue of making sure that no workers, whether permanent or contracted, perform dangerous tasks requiring a permitting process. These kinds of permit-to-work systems are not just a best practice but are often a regulatory requirement per standards such as OSHA’s Permit-Required Confined Spaces in 1910.146. Are you certain you’ve closed out all your permits for recently completed work?
A comprehensive EHS software solution with permit-to-work tools help you quickly and accurately ensure those visiting and working in your facilities have been properly vetted, trained and approved, and that no permit-required tasks are performed without authorization. The best systems allow you to centralize and standardize your operations, with data that’s traceable and updated in real time. You can more easily manage contractor qualifications and get notice of contractors due on-site to verify training requirements and conduct any onboarding procedures in advance. These more streamlined workflows help avoid security desk bottlenecks, ensure compliance, and save time.
A successful ergonomics process aims to reduce workplace musculoskeletal disorder (MSD) risk exposure. And yet, MSDs — which include carpal tunnel syndrome, tendonitis, and other sprains and strains — are among the most common work-related injuries, costing employers billions of dollars annually. The problem is that it’s hard for companies with hundreds, or even thousands, of employees to conduct ergonomics assessments to identify at-risk workers. It’s even more difficult to conduct ergonomics training to help them correct concerns. In many cases, issues are identified and addressed only after an injury has occurred.
Advanced motion-capture technology is significantly levelling the playing field for safety professionals looking for ways to streamline MSD risk reduction. Using sensorless, artificial intelligence tools, you can now collect real-time risk assessment data using the camera on any mobile device. Ergonomics programs in industrial settings have historically relied heavily on observational techniques to conduct MSD risk assessments. Today’s mobile-enabled motion capture technology results in faster, more accurate ergonomics assessments and costs less money. It requires less training and practice for users, and it allows a wider range of employees to complete accurate assessments, helping to improve safety across your organization.
Furthermore, the best all-in-one software solutions combine online training, assessment, and program management tools to deliver everything necessary to deploy, monitor, and manage the ergonomics process, across global locations. By standardizing your enterprise-wide ergonomics process, software enables better risk data collection and analysis that identify areas for improvement and demonstrate the value of your ergonomics program.
Effective hazardous chemical risk management starts with knowing what chemicals you have on site. That’s because an accurate chemical inventory is the foundation for ensuring you have all the necessary safety data sheets (SDSs) for the chemicals in that inventory, your workplace labels are correct, and your employees are trained on chemical hazards. Unfortunately, chemical inventory management is difficult for many companies due to variations in procurement processes across individual facilities or departments. There are just too many variables to control. Without a flexible system, trying to standardize chemical practices across operations can feel like an impossible task.
Managing chemicals manually with paper binder and spreadsheets or working with an electronic solution that requires your people to do more work than necessary, can actually make your job harder and move you further away from effective risk management. It results in wasted time spent tracking down missing SDSs, or inventorying chemicals in one place with pen and paper and double entry into a system back at a desk so it can be accessed by others.
Comprehensive chemical management software significantly simplifies complex chemical inventory management tasks, giving you the control necessary to account for chemical hazards throughout your organization. The best solutions are cloud and mobile-enabled so you can more easily track all your chemical containers at a company-, facility-, department- and storage-location level. Look for software that provides a clear line of sight into your entire chemical footprint with simple-to-use drag-and-drop controls, which enable you to quickly identify and move the chemical inventory on an image map of your facility. With more visibility of what chemicals are on-site, storage locations and quantities of each, you can ensure that every chemical has an up-to-date SDS and every employee has access to the critical lifesaving chemical hazard information they need to work safely and efficiently.
Software also helps you make more informed decisions about compliance, workplace safety, and potentially safer chemical alternatives. Most of today’s chemical management software solutions offer ingredient indexing tools — and/or ingredient indexing services — to make tracking chemical ingredients across your entire product inventory easier and more accurate to manage. The best systems use sophisticated regulatory cross-referencing technology to automatically flag chemical products or hazardous ingredients found on a number of specific regulatory lists, such as EPA’s list of extremely hazardous substances. With a sharper view of your chemical inventory at the ingredient level you can even block chemicals from entering your facilities.
Taking the next step
While many factors play a role in reducing operational risk, software is the fastest and easiest way to protect employees, increase visibility and drive continuous improvement in your organizational EHS performance. Once you’ve decided to adopt software to help you manage risk, it’s important to select a solution that works best for you and your people. Look for a robust system that is quick to implement, easy to use, and mobile-enabled so you spend less time using the solution and more time focusing on the overall safety of your facilities and people.