How Technology is Solving EHS Challenges in the US Construction Industry
6 June 2019 - Evotix
Construction is a major contributor to the US economy with around $1 trillion of structures built each year by a workforce of roughly six million.
The safety stakes are significantly higher than most other sectors due to hazards related to working at height, unguarded machinery, proximity to heavy construction equipment or power lines, and occupational disease related to silica dust and asbestos.
Safer building practices remain one of the industry’s top priorities, yet organizations still face problems with employee engagement and compliance. Employee engagement was the most pressing safety concern of more than 500 EHS professionals surveyed for EHS Daily Advisor’s 2018 Annual Safety Report.
48% of respondents highlighted employee engagement as a key safety challenge. Employees taking shortcuts or ignoring rules (44%) and common recurring causes of injuries such as slips, trips, and falls (2%) were also frequently mentioned.
Organizations often encounter problems encouraging staff to engage in EHS due to red tape and overly complicated processes. EHS apps with an intuitive user interface and attractive graphics can encourage local ownership and empower employees to get on board with the safety journey.
EHS happens on the jobsite, yet managers often find themselves tied to desks filling out paperwork and preparing reports. EHS apps can transfer many processes into the field, helping interpret the aims, preferences and location of employees and presenting them with relevant information and functionality, such as real-time hazard alerts, information on nearby reported incidents, or exposure to environmental phenomena like noise or vibration.
Organizations are changing safety culture by empowering employees to make a difference. The Assure app from SHE Software enables employees to report an incident or near miss, access a risk assessment or record a safe or unsafe act. Assure makes the safety experience interactive and ensures every employee knows they have a role to play in everyone going home safe at the end of every day. Future Assure releases will be transformative for EHS culture, further enhancing existing functionality by replicating the approach found in the consumer world.
The EHS Daily Advisor report also asked respondents to choose a statement that best described safety compliance within their organizations. 40% said they are trying to take their safety program to the next level, beyond compliance. However, a significant 24% said they are not yet fully compliant with OSHA standards, and 14% said they are compliant with OSHA standards but have made no efforts to go beyond the minimum.
Issues with capturing and systematically storing data can create a significant barrier to organizations meeting their legal responsibilities. Staff are spending significant amounts of time filling out paper documents, entering and reentering data into spreadsheets, and grappling with outdated IT systems.
EHS apps can help them fully digitize this process and facilitate a move from a ‘reactive’ to a ‘proactive’ safety culture. Some organizations are effective at applying lessons learned from incidents, near misses and audits, but very few can dissect their data and identify trends that allow them to track leading indicators (such as safe and unsafe observations) and predict where preventative measures will be most effective.
If relevant data is captured, it is often hard to access - think of paper reports lost in filing cabinets - and even those organizations that effectively store data rarely have the tools available to turn it into actionable decisions that can improve safety in the workplace. This missed opportunity can be highly damaging given the financial, reputational and legal repercussions of an EHS incident.
SHE Software’s Business Intelligence (BI) tool, Assure Insights+, eliminates burdensome manual reporting processes. Insights+ provides a real-time view of your compliance status and safety performance rather than just a weekly or monthly retrospective snapshot (often using outdated data).
The time we give you back can be put to better use learning from the safety data available, benchmarking, identifying trends and taking preventative action. Relying on data-driven insights, rather than individual stakeholder opinions, reduces the potential for human error and uncovers the unexpected.
Assure combines complete out of the box EHS functionality (allowing you to be up and running immediately) with an exceptional level of configurability - of forms, organization, permissions, reports and dashboards.
You might be interested to read a recent blog post from our CEO, Matt Elson, “The changing face of health and safety” (https://blog.shesoftware.com/changing-health-and-safety-landscape)
You can access the full 2018 Annual Safety Progress report here: https://ehsdailyadvisor.blr.com/resource/annual-safety-progress-report-2018-2/
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