Top Barriers to EHS Technology Adoption That You Must Be Aware Of

Drone Inspection
March 19, 2020

Last week we published a blog post about steps that you can take to successfully adopt and implement EHS technology at your organization.

If you’re an EHS manager or professional who strongly believes in the use of technology to improve safety, it’s good to be aware of potential barriers, objections or roadblocks, in addition to the steps to follow.

These barriers could make it difficult for you to adopt a specific EHS technology in your company, or complicate your task if you need to convince your colleagues or management. By being aware of potential barriers, you can already start planning to overcome them.

Recently the National Safety Council (NSC) published a research report, Safety Technology 2020: Mapping Technology Solutions for Reducing Serious Injuries and Fatalities in the Workplace.

The paper identifies:

  • Workplace situations, or contextual factors, with the greatest potential for serious injuries and fatalities to occur.
  • Relevant technologies for reducing risks within each of the hazardous workplace situations.

Data for the paper came from four major sources: 1) The Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2) Qualitative phone interviews with 32 EHS professionals from large corporations, 3) Expert EHS technology opinion from Verdantix researchers, and 4) An online survey of 113 EHS professionals.

The NSC also asked research participants about perceived barriers for adopting and implementing new technologies to mitigate safety risks. The participants provided many answers but four stood out, which we share below.

1) Adaptability of technology to specific organizational needs

Technology companies often claim their products can meet the needs of their customers without considering all of the specific characteristics that certain industries might have, the NSC says. For example, some organizations in oil and gas and chemicals need explosion-proof devices, which can eliminate the possibility of certain wearable or mobile app technologies. Workers in some types of operations may not be able to simply use regular consumer smartphones.

2) Limited number of use cases and examples of successes with technology

According to the NSC, many participants in its research mentioned they would like to pursue new technology but cannot find enough examples or case studies of using the new technology effectively. These participants require more information to understand the implementation strategies and barriers associated with adopting new technology.

3) Resistant workforce

Many participants mentioned that they have struggled to get their employees to embrace new technology, especially technology that dramatically changes the way they perform their job (e.g. exoskeletons), the NSC says. Humans are naturally resistant to change and like to stay in their comfort zone. More experienced workers are often more resistant to change. Also, some participants said that their employees have raised concerns about data privacy and security (e.g. wearable technology and big data analytics).

4) Limited knowledge of what technology is available

According to the NSC, the biggest barrier to technology adoption may be that many companies simply don’t know what options are available. Several participants said this was a big struggle for them. Therefore, exposure and education on what technologies are available and what they can do will be key moving forward, the NSC says.

By being aware of the four barriers mentioned above, and making plans to overcome them, you’re more likely to be successful in adopting and implementing EHS technology at your organization.

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Jean-Grégoire Manoukian

Content Thought Leader