In recent years, there has been a growing interest in the use of technology within the field of Environmental Health and Safety (EHS). A research collaboration between eCompliance and BLR Media engaged over 600 safety professionals to uncover the challenges faced by health and safety departments and the role of technology in overcoming these challenges.
In the study, over 80% of safety professionals revealed that an improved safety performance is highly important to their organization; however, only 50% of safety professionals gave a high score to the current state of the safety culture in their organization. This gap between understanding the importance of a strong safety culture and acknowledging the weakness in their existing safety program brings to light the potential for improvement in the companies’ safety practices. This begs the question – if there is such a clear difference between the targeted safety culture for the organization and the existing one, then what is holding back the safety professionals from strengthening their EHS program and filling this gap?
The results of our research shed light on some major factors that help explain why organizations face a weak safety culture. Firstly, 43% of safety departments stated that either they do not report safety metrics at all or they do not follow monthly reporting processes. This is an alarmingly low rate of reporting velocity, given that good data is critical for pinpointing the risks that lead to incidents. Moreover, about 30% of safety professionals stated that it took their organization over a month to complete corrective actions on average. Carrying out corrective actions are naturally time-sensitive, especially if they are to be effective in reducing risk for an organization and preventing incidents.
Secondly, we found that safety professionals view worker participation as one of the biggest challenges for safety in the organization, with 46% of the participants believing that over 10% of recordable incidents could have been prevented if employees fully participated in safety programs. To put that into perspective, if employees fully participated in safety programs, for every 10 incidents, at least 1 incident could have been prevented; thereby, saving lives and resulting in $240,000 of cost savings for the organization, according to National Safety Council estimates. Keeping these results in mind, we see that safety professionals understand how important worker participation is for reducing risk in their organization, but they feel paralyzed against the challenge of increasing it.
The answer to overcoming these obstacles of strengthening EHS programs within the confines of limited resources lies in technology. Technology is the key that can bridge the gap and help organizations eliminate the risk associated with a weak safety culture. 79% of participants from the survey revealed that they had never used safety management system in their organizations. Integrating safety software into the EHS program can simultaneously increase the efficiency of processes and free up resources previously allocated towards less value added tasks such as administrative work associated with paper processes, all of which helps to increase worker engagement, productivity, and profitability. Detailed case studies with companies that already use safety software show that the use of technology helped reduce the time taken for reporting and corrective actions by more than half, and has resulted in over 40% decrease in recordable incidents!
So if technology can help bridge this gap, why aren’t more companies investing in safety software?
Although a staggering 70% of safety professionals in the survey believed that an investment in safety results in a positive financial impact for the company, a large share of these participants also blamed budget constraints for not using safety software, which was followed by convincing management of the value of these tools. This response goes to show that the barrier to advancing an organization’s EHS program is proving the return on investment from safety to top management. To help organizations such as these create a strong business case for safety initiatives and prove this ROI to executives, eCompliance has made several complimentary resources available.