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3 things to know before adopting EHS technologies

Environmental, Health and Safety management operations have changed significantly amid the adoption of modern technologies capable of performing tasks that have traditionally been more costly and time-consuming.

Nonetheless, there are some who may still be considering the idea of supplementing (or replacing) their business' or organization's tried-and-true EHS setup with modern solutions. In order to do so properly, there are several things that those in charge of the transition process need to know before drawing up plans, purchasing new EHS tools or making hasty changes to daily operations.

According to LNS Research, the overall modernization of EHS operations is sometimes referred to as "EHS 4.0" — described as a reference to "Industry 4.0, also known as the Fourth Industrial Revolution." This has brought about advances from traditional EHS management and operational approaches with the advent of groundbreaking technologies.

Here are three things that you should know to bring your organization's into the EHS 4.0 phase — or a suitable equivalent:

1. Know which aspect(s) of your EHS operations need an overhaul
Today's EHS solutions harness the advantages offered by modern technologies adopted across many industries and bring with them comprehensive new services and tools. Before taking the leap into the modern EHS world, one should consider which aspects of their existing operations need changes or improvements. According to Industrial Safety and Hygiene News, tech trends proving highly innovative to business development are the internet of things, big data analytics, cloud computing and mobile applications; all of these can be applied to different areas of EHS operations.

According to LNS Research's Peter Bussey, organizations' EHS management today has generally followed several trends that have brought about a change in the way it works in relation to different departments' regular operations. The trend towards digital solutions, for example, has resulted in an increased appreciation and investment in EHS as an asset that "creates and delivers value," Bussey wrote. Higher standards for transparency and disclosure across many industries today require a reliance on the study and mitigation of risk that can be provided by EHS professionals.

One also should consider the fact that many organizations' mainstays are aging and nearing retirement. Regardless of whether these employees are already familiar with new EHS technologies, they will need to be replaced with a new generation of workers that bring with them their own skills and work habits.

2. Know the potential results - the good, bad and the ugly
When used correctly, EHS technology can help organizations to overcome longstanding barriers that have prevented improvement in many areas and resulted in adverse incidents, according to Bussey. Some of the main hindrances include disparate systems, data sources and collaboration combined with information siloing. Good planning when making changes to an organization's EHS standards will in turn produce desired results.

When implemented under a poorly planned design, new EHS technologies can present their own risks, whether they be through flaws in changes to operations or vulnerabilities in networked IT systems or new IoT devices, for example. On a bad day, a business with a flawed workplace safety design and poor network security might see a minor injury or downtime. On the ugliest of days, these could result in severe injuries to personnel, major downtime and any associated penalties or legal proceedings.

According to ISHN, it's recommended that administrators and managers know their organizations' current EHS tech integration plans and work with all teams involved. This can help to get a stronger understanding of the changes that will take place and manage any associated risks.

3. Know that modern EHS tools are varied
Different industries require different solutions when it comes to today's digital EHS solutions, while organizations with existing EHS systems and solutions in place may require the adoption of new technologies in certain areas, but don't need a complete overhaul.

One broad example of the capabilities of modern EHS technologies is what EHS Daily Advisor reports is the use of virtual reality goggles and associated software for employee safety training. In the energy industry, more specifically, one modern EHS solution is the deployment of drones fitted with specialized technology for inspections on oil rigs and ships, among other properties, according to Quartz. In turn, this improves operational efficiency and allows for a reallocation of human resources away from avoidable risky scenarios.

When considering EHS mobile applications for business use on popular smartphones, for example, IMEC Technologies recommends that one first consider whether they field proven, native to certain brands and have the ability to be efficiently scaled to a certain number of users. An application array used effectively should record more data than previously thought possible, which can provide new insights into hazards and required remediation efforts.

ProcessMAP provides EHS tools that can innovate companies' safety cultures. Connect with us to learn more about how you can improve your workplace risk management today.

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