Research from the Campbell Institute shares many best practices from leading organizations in EHS.
The Campbell Institute also holds an annual symposium. The 2020 Symposium took place just last month. The event brought together thought leaders from all over the world. There were many interesting sessions, and we want to highlight one of them.
At the Symposium, Bill Pennington, Senior Analyst with Verdantix, spoke about the adoption of different technologies for EHS. His presentation covered Industry 4.0 and all the emerging technologies that come with it.
EHS is also experiencing the widespread adoption of emerging technologies. Safety is changing with the growth of digital technologies, and safety professionals are noticing it: In the most recent Verdantix Global EHS Leaders Survey, 79% of EHS managers perceive innovation as either a high priority or essential for the EHS function.
According to Verdantix, the most widely adopted EHS technologies include EHS software, EHS mobile applications, and digital sensors for environmental data collection. In addition, wearables for vital signs monitoring provide data on “soft risks” like fatigue. Other types of wearables can help to prevent musculoskeletal injuries by assisting workers to lift and move safely.
There is clearly no turning back. The growing use of EHS technology is here to stay, and we all need to get on the bandwagon. But how?
There are four steps that you should follow, and that Bill highlighted at the Symposium. Follow these steps and you will be in excellent shape to successfully adopt and implement EHS technologies in your organization.
1) Start with the Strategy
Before looking at specific technologies, look at the big picture and the strategy. In the same Verdantix survey mentioned above, only 52% of respondents have implemented a digitization strategy for EHS, which means that almost half of EHS leaders at companies are still developing a strategy. Establish the process that you intend to follow to evaluate your needs and to determine your roadmap for the adoption of EHS technology.
2) Identify Problems and Goals
Ultimately the technology must be connected to internal processes. You should not adopt a new technology just for the sake of adopting a new technology because there’s a lot of buzz around it. Rather, identify specific challenges in your organization that technology could address, and the goals you want to achieve with the technology. You have to understand your problems to see what technology is available that can help with the issues. It also helps to assess your processes and optimize them before any technology is implemented.
3) Determine the Technologies
The third step is to determine which technologies are the right ones for your organization. Verdantix has identified 25 digital EHS technologies, and has mapped out where they are in the implementation and development phase versus the amount of value delivered. This is what constitutes a technology roadmap, and you will need one for your own organization. You will have to evaluate if your company has the will to test technologies that have just emerged from the research and development phase, or if you want to implement a solution only if it’s already adopted by the early majority.
4) Pilot Technologies
The final step is to meticulously pilot the technologies being considered. For example, it may look like a great idea to give every worker a new tablet, which is a technology widely used. But if it doesn’t fit with your processes, it can make work more difficult. Start with a single facility or plant and see how it goes. Roll out the solution to all your locations only after a successful pilot. In addition, any technology deployment should be accompanied by strong onboarding and communication, and tracking of metrics.
Finally, getting back to the Campbell Institute Symposium, Bill reminded that process changes are needed to optimize a technology’s value. Any technology implementation is only as successful as you make it. Bill also emphasized that technology is not a magical solution. Any implementation needs to be approached cautiously. In fact, a bad technology selection and implementation can be more harmful than not adopting a technology at all.