What is Top of Mind for EHS Professionals?

EHS Professional
January 09, 2020
By Jean-Grégoire Manoukian

“I wanna know
What you’re feeling
Tell me what’s on your mind”
~
Information Society – “What’s On Your Mind”

If you’re an EHS manager or professional, it’s good to be aware of the priorities and issues affecting your profession. This allows you to see if you’re overlooking anything or if you need to re-focus your efforts.

The National Safety Council (NSC) offers its members access to the Member Benchmarking Safety Operation Study, which is a tool they can use to evaluate their current safety operations, and benchmark their activities and performance against other NSC member companies. The survey never closes and can be taken any time during the calendar year, giving members access to the most current benchmarking data.

In addition, the NSC summarizes survey findings using data reported by members. The survey based on the full-year 2018 data provides insights into the most pressing issues for EHS professionals.

The top three most important issues are:

  1. Complacency
  2. Employee Engagement
  3. Safety Culture

NSC members are also concerned about the aging workforce, slips trips and falls, ergonomics, regulatory compliance, and distracted driving.

Respondents to the survey were also asked about the major challenges they face in improving safety. The challenges mentioned the most include:

  1. Employee engagement
  2. Lack of resources
  3. Safety being viewed as a burden or productivity drain
  4. Safety culture

Employee engagement and safety culture are showing up both as important issues and major challenges in improving safety.

The analysis of the survey data by NSC researchers reveals other interesting findings also.

First, organizations with larger annual safety and health budgets are more likely to have a more mature safety culture and leadership approach to safety, and higher employee engagement. The correlation is “weakly positive”, but it is present.

Second, as organizations evolve from compliance-driven to values-driven in terms of safety culture and leadership approach to safety, they tend to see fewer recordable events.

So, what are the main takeaways? Ultimately, people can draw their own conclusions, but here’s what we see:

  • Despite the growing use of software tools and emerging technologies, the human aspect of safety remains the most important one. Obviously technology helps, and organizations should not be laggards, but they must remain focused on people.
  • Safety does not improve through new rules and processes alone. Safety improves when all workers are passionate about it, and adopt it in their hearts and minds.
  • Compliance and a reduction in incidents remain critical. But if employees are engaged, and the safety culture is strong, these goals will “take care of themselves”, i.e. have the right culture in place, and you will already be well on your way to achieving compliance and reducing incidents.

If you’re an EHS manager or professional, think about developing and using “soft skills” to successfully persuade workers and keep them engaged. Technology, rules and processes can assist you, but don’t think that they will do the job for you.

Author

JG

Jean-Grégoire Manoukian

Content Thought Leader