How EHS Performance Keeps You Fit For Work
Keeping employees “Fit for Work”
If you had a chance to read about the 10 things that were learned at SPF Americas 2015, you came across value drivers and how they help organizations become best-in-class. At Enablon, we help companies enable nine value drivers, including safe operations, world-class compliance, green facilities, keeping employees fit for work, collaborative supply chain, etc.
Many of the nine drivers are relevant to occupational safety and health, but let’s talk about two of them: “Safe Operations” and “Fit for Work”. Safe operations are enabled through effective incident management, Job Safety Analysis (JSA), Behavior-Based Safety (BBS), Management of Change (MoC), Process Safety Management (PSM), and other functions. Workers are enabled to be fit for work when companies maintain a healthy workforce, which allows organizations to keep operating in a smooth and productive way. It is more related to the “Health” part of EHS. The key to keeping employees fit for work is to centralize Industrial Hygiene, Occupational Health and Ergonomics analysis as part of enterprise EHS management.
Industrial Hygiene helps anticipate hazards
Effective EHS management must include an Industrial Hygiene program that allows companies to assess employee risk exposure and perform data sampling. Industrial Hygiene protects workers by anticipating and identifying workplace hazards or “stressors” that can be of different nature: biological, chemical, physical, ergonomic or psychosocial. It is important to automate an Industrial Hygiene program centrally through software, assess employee risk exposure through qualitative analysis, and monitor employees through data sampling and quantitative analysis. Industrial Hygiene software also allows organizations to access data and exposure assessment information centrally from anywhere in the enterprise, ensure compliance, mitigate risks and facilitate collaboration. For example, if tests inside a warehouse reveal that the air contains a specific chemical above acceptable exposure limits, then a more proper ventilation system can be put into place or the proper Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) can be recommended.
Occupational Health gives visibility over medical records
Industrial Hygiene keeps workers fit for work by helping organizations anticipate workplace hazards. But what happens if workers are not healthy even before they set foot in a plant to start their workday? This is where Occupational Health becomes relevant. An Occupational Health solution allows a company to gain a real-time view over medical records of workers, keep track of their workers’ medical history, plan visits and manage prescriptions and treatments. This in turn helps to track and analyze trends in health issues, in order to proactively implement changes to working environments to better serve employees. A solution for Occupational Health must store up-to-date data in a format that can be easily searched and reported on, across the entire organization. It must also ensure the confidentiality and privacy of employee health records.
Ergonomics analysis prevents injuries
Keeping employees fit for work would not be complete without analyzing Ergonomics in an organization. It is important to prevent workplace injuries, such as musculoskeletal disorders (carpal tunnel syndrome, tendinitis, etc.) by identifying and addressing ergonomic hazards, such as sudden exertions, repetitive strains, or awkward postures. As part of an EHS management program, Ergonomics analysis centralizes information by generating an inventory of hazardous postures at the workplace. The first step is to define Similar Exposure Groups (SEGs) across the organization. For each SEG, ergonomic hazards or stressors are then identified. This allows the identification of SEGs with the highest ergonomic risks that need to be controlled and mitigated.
Enable a cycle of continuous EHS performance
Now that we have seen how EHS performance helps companies keep their employees fit to work, it’s good to take a step back and look at the big picture one more time. Earlier in this post, two value drivers for occupational safety and health were mentioned: “Safe Operations” and “Fit for Work”. These two value drivers do not operate in silos. They work together as part of a holistic EHS management system, and form a cycle where they support each other, thus increasing EHS performance. Once employees are fit for work, workplace incidents and injuries due to human factors become less likely, thus leading to safe operations. Safe operations then create a safer workplace, leading to greater employee health and wellness, making them more likely to be fit for work. The end result is a safe, healthy and productive workplace that helps the company save time and money, and creates the foundations of operational excellence.
When evaluating an EHS management platform, be sure to look at things holistically and take into consideration solutions that will also keep your employees fit for work. Thinking about Industrial Hygiene, Occupational Health and Ergonomics analysis as part of EHS management is an excellent start.