By: Chad Birckelbaw, Chief Executive Officer
Much has been written regarding the impact COVID-19 has had on the world population and economy. As we move from crisis, to recovery, to a new “normal”, we have seen shifts in the way business has traditionally been conducted in many markets. Examples include the growth in telemedicine, an acceleration in e-commerce across most industries, and a shift to more home entertainment related purchases.
The Environmental, Health, and Safety (EHS) sector has been at the forefront of helping organizations manage the safety and health of their employees and customers, while also protecting businesses from the various risks stemming from this outbreak. Below are a few trends further impacting EHS that we see hastening in the post-pandemic world:
- Increase in online training and distance learning: The ability to train employees on a computer or mobile device has been growing for many years. The impacts of social distancing have served to increase the rate of change. Virtual classrooms with instructors and training webinars have been an effective way for employers to continue to advance training requirements and engage employees to sharpen skills. While online training may not be able to fulfill all training obligations, advances in the quality of content, combined with instructional design concepts and embedded assessments, have greatly advanced this method as the safest and most cost-effective way to train employees while maintain social distancing.
- Technology as Necessity: As with other parts of our life, technology is becoming ubiquitous in protecting our workplaces and communities. The ability to leverage technology in mobile devices has furthered adoption in the EHS space. In addition to allowing employees the ability to access information in the field, technology serves as a conduit to streamline information flow and increase both the safety and social engagement of employees – both of which are key elements of reducing the frequency and severity of incidents. Like other corporate functional areas, such as accounting and human resources, using technology to support environmental health and safety goals improves the efficiency of your program. By reducing administrative tasks and allowing people to focus on engagement and behaviors, companies also improve the effectiveness of employees tasked with managing programs.
- Enhanced Safety & Compliance Management: Employers looking to protect their workers and customers must have the ability to track and report on actions they have taken around preventing and mitigating risk. Identifying key hazards and processes that are important to your organization, and focusing your energy and that of your staff, is step one. In this hyper-accelerated environment, the ability to document and analyze data allows you to adjust more quickly, thus making improvements in your processes and pushing your organization to achieve improved outcomes.
This time period has reinforced the adage: “If you’re staying the same, you’re falling behind.” The ability to quickly adapt and better leverage the available tools and resources to your advantage, will allow all of us involved in the EHS profession to raise the bar, and better care for all the stakeholders we serve.