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Verdantix EHS Summit Sessions And Audience Polling Reveal Digitization Priorities Among Corporate EHS Practitioners

During our EHS Summit Americas 2019, held in Atlanta on September 24-25, presenters, panellists and audience members shared their perspectives on the current state of EHS technology, where implementation challenges and unmet needs exist, and what the future may hold.

One primary topic among Summit participants was the need to constructively engage a firm’s workforce and be transparent both before and during the process of adopting new EHS technology. Whether deploying software, mobile apps, wearable devices, safety beacons or other EHS tools, attendees agreed that it is critical to speak with and listen to workers who will use the technology—including frontline workers who will record incidents, IT personnel who will align the technical infrastructure, data scientists who will analyse the collected data, and EHS managers who will reorient job tasks to reduce hazardous incidents. During a Focus Group conducted by Corvex, participants discussed how the core tenets and activities of an EHS programme must be effective in building a safety culture before any form or amount of technology can help achieve success. Similarly, during a Best Practices Workshop led by Arcadis and the Georgia Department of Transportation, the speakers outlined the need for EHS personnel to put themselves in other workers’ shoes before identifying a technological tool to implement. Another Best Practices Workshop led by Cority and the Los Alamos National Laboratory stressed the need to test new technology with workers at a smaller scale, collect their feedback and use that information to make any necessary adjustments before rolling out the innovation on a larger scale.

Another leading topic during the Summit was the increasing overlap between EHS decision-making and other parts of a business. For example, in order to more effectively understand and manage broadscale risks, many firms are linking data and processes across traditionally siloed functions such as EHS, operations, quality, human resources, product stewardship and sustainability. For example, one Summit panel focused on the growing intersection between corporate EHS and sustainability. Although there is significant variation in how individual firms define and relate the two areas, the simple fact that many more firms are coordinating EHS and sustainability demonstrates today’s efforts to break down historical siloes. In his Day Two keynote, Mark Wallace, President and CEO of Cority, highlighted firms’ current transition from point solutions for different activities toward integrated risk management and the accompanying data collection. Likewise, during an IsoMetrix Best Practices Workshop, the presenters outlined how technology can be a positive enabler for improved EHS activities, but a firm first should develop internal frameworks and cooperative approaches to risk management as a precursor to technology deployment.

Not only did speakers help steer the Summit’s subjects, but the audience also influenced the discussion. Most notably, audience Q&A and live polling during the sessions via Slido enabled attendees to share their perspectives and provide their input. It also was interesting to find that the viewpoints of EHS practitioners in the audience often mirrored the presenters’ ideas. For example, when asked “How can firms benefit from more EHS data transparency?,” 90% of audience members selected “More buy in from workers into EHS initiatives” as an advantage of information sharing and open engagement with personnel. Consistent with speakers noting the importance of positively engaging a workforce when exploring new EHS technology, for the poll question “Which initiative will have the biggest impact on reducing serious injuries and fatalities?,” 60% of attendees identified “Complete data on near misses and high potential events” since workers would be partners in collecting that data and conducting job tasks more safely. During the panel addressing the relationship between a firm’s EHS activities and sustainability efforts, 43% of attendees answered the question “To what extent will sustainability trends require more involvement from the EHS function in the next 2 years?” by saying there will be “significant need” for more involvement. Finally, echoing the overall focus of the Summit, an overwhelming 67% of audience members voted that technology will be “essential to the success” of their health and safety strategies during 2020.

 

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To read more about key takeaways from the Summit sessions, please read our accompanying blog post, “Verdantix EHS Summit Americas 2019 Harnesses Peer-To-Peer Conversations On The Future Of EHS Technology.” To view the highlights of the event and to find out what attendees thought, view our EHS Americas Summit 2019 video here. To learn more about our next EHS Summit, visit the HSE & OPEX Innovation Summit EMEA 2020 page of our website and make your plans for March 2-4, 2020, at the Tottenham Hotspur FC Stadium in London!


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