Magazine article Occupational Hazards

Automating Health & Safety Processes Creates Value: In This Uncertain Business Climate, a Growing Number of Organizations Are Taking a Closer Look at Creating Value for Their Customers and Shareholders. in the Health and Safety Arena, This Emphasis on Value Creation, Specifically on Saving Costs and Minimizing Risks, Is Leading Many Organizations to Focus on Injury Prevention

Magazine article Occupational Hazards

Automating Health & Safety Processes Creates Value: In This Uncertain Business Climate, a Growing Number of Organizations Are Taking a Closer Look at Creating Value for Their Customers and Shareholders. in the Health and Safety Arena, This Emphasis on Value Creation, Specifically on Saving Costs and Minimizing Risks, Is Leading Many Organizations to Focus on Injury Prevention

Article excerpt

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Injury prevention reduces workplace injuries, related costs and inevitable business disruptions. If managed properly, injury prevention also can increase product and service quality, employee retention and productivity.

However, enabling a shift toward a prevention-based health and safety approach comes with challenges. In many organizations, existing health and safety processes, resources and budgets solely exist to manage regulatory compliance efforts. Moreover, health and safety departments are struggling to keep up as their organizations grow the workforce, add new types of jobs and manage geographically-dispersed employees working off-site, from home or at a customer's location.

Multiply these issues by hundreds or thousands of employees, jobs, tasks and risks and it is clear that health and safety managers are challenged. Their plate already is full with managing health and safety using existing processes and tools. Not too much attention is paid to creating value for their organizations. Indeed, even when an organization implements various health and safety programs, it can be difficult to track results, measure changes and progress and ensure program participation. This is particularly true for organizations that are still using paper- or spreadsheet-based systems to manage their health and safety activities.

With all the complexity of maintaining existing health and safety programs, it is little wonder that some health and safety managers find it difficult to add proactive initiatives, such injury risk assessments, that can lead to better injury prevention results.

Enter BPA

The good news is that there are positive developments on the horizon. Health and safety managers can take a page from their peers in other areas of the organization, such as sales and supply chain management, by introducing business process automation (BPA) into the health and safety arena. By leveraging BPA, a growing number of organizations are better utilizing their health and safety department's time and resources, collecting information to prioritize employee assistance and tracking the success of specific safety and wellness initiatives for all employees. The power of BPA is that it enables organizations to define and measure job tasks, look for trouble spots and make improvements to produce better outcomes in the form of healthier employees and, ultimately, more successful organizations.

In practice, technology-enabled BPA gives health and safety managers the tools necessary to put resources in the hands of the right stakeholders to improve overall health and safety and prevent occupational injuries. For example, by ensuring that managers and supervisors on the front lines are receiving regular reports on the effectiveness of current risk mitigation activities, those individuals can make changes to the jobs or processes that are driving injury-related losses. In addition, some of this information can be funneled directly to employees in the form of personalized communication and information about risk avoidance and mitigation, based on the level and type of risk each employee faces in a specific environment. This information empowers each employee to make behavioral changes independently without any expert intervention.

With technology generating valuable insight and up-to-the-minute information, organizations can bring more stakeholders into the conversation about improving health and safety and reducing costs. As a result, departments and functional areas, including facilities and occupational health, can get out of their functional silos and weave health and safety risk management into the fabric of the organization's operations.

Rather than simply throwing more training resources at health and safety issues without a clear idea of their impact, a BPA-based approach can generate solutions that get right to the heart of problems. …

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