A recent report on a US study of 230 EHS professionals with at least 1,000 employees revealed their current use, and intended use of, technology to improve and sustain their company’s safety practices and culture. The report explores EHS technology decision-making and budgeting; barriers to technology investment; and how EHS departments are leveraging technology to improve and sustain a safety culture. Forty percent of respondents said they are using a homegrown management system, commercial EHS software, and/or Excel and 10 percent reported using commercial off-the-shelf software. However, the findings show that there was no single means of tracking, managing, analysing and reporting data that is used with 14 percent of respondents till using paper-based systems.
Key results showed that safety management systems were important to 85% of the group, 64% are interested in mobile device systems, 47% are keen on e-learning and micro-learning and 41% are looking for solutions that provide predictive analytics. Other areas that EHS professionals are actively engaging with include robots (34%), drones (22%), autonomous vehicles (17%), wearables (34%), exoskeletons (12%) and augmented reality (11%).
The top three barriers to technology adoption were:
- Budgetary restrictions (58%),
- A lack of understanding of technology’s capabilities (51%), and
- Staffing issues (43%).
However, despite the issues, EHS professionals are pushing ahead to adopt technology to improve safety culture, promote workplace wellness, drive operational excellence and advance sustainability initiatives across their organisations.
What technology will EHS professionals adopt?
It appears that EHS professionals are introducing technology as fast as their budgets and employees understanding of technology capability will allow. The table below provides an excellent snapshot that shows the technologies in current use, expectations within 2 years and the 3-5 year outlook.
The technologies most likely to be deployed in three to five years include:
- safety management systems (93%),
- mobile devices (90%),
- e-learning/micro-learning (89%),
- cybersecurity (85%)
- predictive analytics (83%).
- localization technology (58%),
- wearables (60%), and
- sensors in PPE and apparel (57%).
Ref: Cority 2019 EHS Today State of the Market : EHS Embraces The Technology Revolution Report
Safety and well-being
The sampled companies showed that employee safety and well-being were currently a priority with 84 percent having implemented programs to strengthen safety culture and 68 percent deploying a wellness initiative. Many used technology to support these initiatives in workplace accident prevention (47%), worker protection/PPE (38%) and ergonomics (32%). However, in this report there was a lack of data around well-being technologies, which would indicate that this area of technology is yet to be fully explored.
In the next two years, EHS professionals plan to apply technology and data analytics to reduce workplace accidents (33%), increase worker protection/PPE (29%) and focus on ergonomics (28%).
They are using, or planning to use, technology and analytics to meet compliance (49% current, 29% planning), training (47% current, 30% planning), and equipment maintenance (45% current, 29% planning). The areas where they are least likely to apply technology and data analytics are security and human resources.
What is of interest is EHS professionals are much more likely to use mobile devices than IoT technologies in their safety procedures, both now and in the future (next three years). Mobile devices are currently in use at 56 percent of respondent companies, with another 25 percent indicating likely introduction within two years and 9 percent indicating likely introduction in three to five years. Only 11 percent of respondents are currently using IoT, with an additional 19 percent planning to introduce within two years and another 18 percent planning to introduce in three to five years.
However, other technologies that leverage IoT capabilities, such as predictive analytics, wearables, and sensors in PPE and apparel, are expected to be deployed within two years or within three to five years. For wearables, 21 percent are likely to deploy within two years and 25 percent in three to five years. For sensors in PPE and apparel, 21 percent are expected to be deployed in two years and 29 percent in three to five years.
Just over a third of respondents (36%) are currently using data analytics to improve EHS in their workplace, for example, to predict accident likelihood or improve equipment maintenance. Thirty-five percent indicated that they have extensively implemented the technology across the company. Thirty-eight percent of respondents say they are likely to deploy predictive analytics within two years, with an additional 15 percent expecting to do so in three to five years.
E-Learning on mobile devices
Safety training delivery is changing and changing fast due to new employees being part of a technology-savvy generation. Their expectation on receiving interactive, relevant safety training is influenced by their increased use of smart phones, gaming platforms, social media and real time interactions with global peers on a daily basis. Training is no longer consumed by this generation as it’s been in the past via passive deliveries, e.g. classroom chalk and talk. There is now more emphasis than ever to create engaging learning experiences that adopt virtual technologies and digital sites, accessed on mobile devices. See our post on Immersive Safety Training.
Mobile Health applications have become a recognised delivery method for health and mental health communication and training as recently noted in the KPMG report and recommended as a mainstream support service for workplaces by the Australian Regulator, Safe Work Australia. Mobile health applications play an important role in supplementing and extending traditional delivery channels of mental health support, e.g. face-to-face counseling services, printed materials, presentations and lectures, and TV, radio, and movies.
Examples of mobile mental health include:
- Provision of ‘virtual’ treatment to patients via who can’t easily access health care.
- Internet-based and telephone services that provide health information via text messages or phone calls.
- Websites that publish information on mobile health and mental health.
- Wearable devices, e.g. fitness trackers.
- Apps that are downloaded to smart phones to provide health information and support, often linked to other resources and services available on the internet.
The list of health and mental health services via apps is growing and this delivery method is gaining significant global support, mostly due to the 24/7 connectivity and immediate delivery of information. In addition, as technology improves, delivery methods of mobile health is accommodating consumers needs delivering information and support, via text, audio, images, video, games, artificial intelligence, etc. See our post on Mobile Health and Mental Health.
How can Tap Into Safety help?
Don’t worry if you aren’t ready for role play in virtual worlds, in our Workplace Safety Solution, you can use 360-degree photographic panoramas of real work sites to deliver your safety training. This delivery method is highly realistic because it uses real work site images. The immersive experience continues with the user able to navigate around and interact through the photo. The advantage of this delivery method is the ability to develop training specifically for a variety of industries and work sites. The environment that is photographed is rich in data and context and challenges the employee to find safety issues within their typical working environment. At Tap Into Safety we can produce a high quality panoramic image, while at the same time allowing for acceptable download times when in use by employees on mobile devices and online.
The Tap Into Safety Mental Health Solution helps organisations to identify staff groups with mental health issues early on. It helps employees to identify heightened levels of stress, anxiety and depression. The training increases mental health literacy by providing refresher training on workplace stressors that impact mental health and teaches practical coping strategies. The solution provides an alternative method of a non-confrontational way to encourage help seeking. The predictive data enables organisations to target groups of staff who most need support, leading to early intervention and quicker recovery. The solution can be accessed online, on mobile devices and smart phones.
High quality training with a low cost entry
Tap Into Safety has a new per use ‘credits’ pricing model which provides access to both the safety and mental health training for a low fee, with no lock in contract or annual license. Once registered, employers have access to predictive results that indicate trends in employee safety knowledge and wellbeing.
Most importantly, once a business is registered on the Tap Into Safety Platform, continued access to the reporting is available to provide data and predictive analytics at no charge to the business. In addition, employees can continue to access the help seeking features and support resources, at no charge to the business. Organisations only pay for the training and assessment modules that they use in their workplace safety and mental health and wellbeing campaigns and on-boarding activities.
Improving the safety culture and performance and tackling mental health decline is not solved in a one sized fits all approach. Organisations need to offer a variety of solutions and activities. If you would like to know more about the Tap Into Safety Platform contact us and try a FREE online demo today.