Navigating Risk: Advancing EHS Management with Digital Solutions

Category: Health & Safety
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Navigating Risk: Advancing EHS Management with Digital Solutions

In our latest HSI Donesafe’s Nourish & Knowledge webinar, Joel Fuller was joined by VP of Sales, Glenn Parker to talk about the most common risks that EHS professionals manage and how risks can be reduced through the use of the right digital tools.

In this article, we’ll share the highlights from the webinar from the overall complexity of risk management, why risk management should go beyond a tick-box compliance activity, the importance of breaking down data silos, and through to how a digital risk management system should enhance your organisation and further you on the path to maturity.

Risk Management: Removing the ambiguity.

The word risk and the associated field of risk management has many definitions. Depending on your role, the context of your discussion, previous experience and a range of other factors, risk can mean many things so it’s important to ensure you and those around you are on the same page about your unique risks. 

Glenn provided an example:

“Some professionals equate hazards as risks, others consider governance and board level risks, and for a lot of us in the WHS/EHS space it can mean understanding the risks in your workplace and hazards being reported and linked to those risks”. 

Understanding what the word risk means is key. Employers and employees must be on the same page about your definition of risk and how it applies in your organisation. By doing so you’ll remove the ambiguity of the term risk, reduce any disconnects that exist and achieve better adoption of your risk framework. 

Don’t just do things for the sake of compliance. 

In his decades of experience, Glenn has regularly seen risk assessments and checklists used purely to tick a compliance box.

“Assessments and checklists often get copied off the web and implemented with a few changes, and a few things changed… rather than being brought back to ‘what does it mean from a risk point of view’, so having that understanding and link back is key.”

How can you break down silos in risk management?

Like many EHS programs, risk management can suffer from too many systems and the silos they create. This is a common pain point for organisations to review their risk management processes. 

By using too many disparate systems, both in respect to multiple point solutions or a combination of online and paper based tools, risk management becomes more complex than it has to be. And In larger, multiple location organisations a disconnected approach to risk management can lead to different systems, software and processes in different locations.

The end result is that risk managers suffer from a lack of availability to clear insights and a 360 degree view of risks, and restricts them from communicating clearly to their workforce. 

As risk management evolves and becomes the centrepiece of EHS programs, linking back hazards and incidents (for both employees and contractors) is critical to a safe workplace. 

So where’s the best place to start?  Leveraging a universal, digital risk management system that can work where you are now and adapt as your maturity grows. 

Start with the basics – a lean approach.

While Glenn acknowledges that all organisations are different and will have different opinions and perspectives about risk, he’s seen much success in using a lean management approach to risk. 

So rather than focusing in 100+ risks in the organisation, a lean approach will look at the key 8-10 critical risks that have the potential to seriously injure your staff and/or contractors. This “Gemba” approach ensures that the most significant risks are understood and focuses the organisation on the key risks. 

Simplicity is also important when it comes to the tools you use. 

With a lot of these tools, the endworker may not understand fully the controls and tasks they need to manage, often they lose sight of it so you should keep the tools to interface with simple and accessible, like QR codes and take-five style approaches for critical taks to make it as simple and possible and provide guidance for what they are about to do. 

Watch Glenn demonstrate this approach below:

The key takeout is that simple is best. 

Linking back to your risk library for better risk management. 

Simplicity should extend into keeping your central risk library updated. Going beyond just logging an incident or a hazard, a digital solution will enable you to gain instant insights into the risks across your organisation. 

This helps bridge the gap between what’s happening at a site level through to an organisational view. It also provides a quick view of related risks, risk description, recommended controls and a risk matrix to tie back into your risk library. 

For risk managers, this empowers you to create your own risk register, understand your risks and customise your risk management program to your organisation. 

By doing this, you’ll move from monitoring and recording individual incidents to a global view of the risks.

Risk Assurance and Audit Frameworks.

A digital risk management solution also takes the pain out of audits and risk assurance. 

By tracking activities within your environment and managing all of your audit information from a centralised dashboard, you can ensure that you’re scheduling audits – whether that’s delegated to managers or a separate audit team.

Further, you can ensure that the delegated team is actually looking at the things that you need to assess from a risk point of view and share best practice with the wider organisation. As Glenn explains, this can be:

“Looking at certain elements that you care about building out the evidence for it, rating it, scoring it and then building corrective actions around that… and also looking at good practices and part of the system functionalities. Then being able to do safety alerts and sharing things that have gone wrong or good practices as part of that continuous learning approach”.

A digital system allows you to easily share learning and best practice so the company continues to evolve. 

Moving to more advanced use cases

Once you have got your risk framework built into the day-to-day, the next step in the continuous improvement journey is to capture more complex use cases. 

Glenn explained some common ways that a digital risk management system can be expanded, from individual control management and ownership, linking multiple controls to risks and formalizing your risk management, through to using the system to engage your contractors. 

“You can allow them to be able to see hazards on the site or risks that they need to manage and get access to the checklists that your employees get access to…

An integrated approach that helps you not have to recreate the same stuff in another system but also get visibility straight away when you know there are issues that relate to a contractor or they’re not following the controls or processes correctly… 

I think that’s the evolution. It’s building more and more functionality out to capture more of the risk framework elements. So whether it’s SWMS within your workplace, the contractor side, obviously more and more on the checklist element, observations… they’re the starting areas… it’s adding more layers to it so you know we’ll see someone might work with us for a few years and then come back and go you know want to have a look at what you’re doing in chain of responsibility so I need we need to expand what we already have to cover that area because that’s a gap and there’ll always be gaps right and you can’t do everything all the time.”

Joel shares a specific reputational risk example from a retailer, too.

“I had a client come to me with more of a reputational risk… they were saying that they needed to capture feedback from from their customer base where they’d had adverse reactions [from a product] and making sure that there wasn’t a reputational risk for that brand with poor results on tik tok and social media and google so they were collecting feedback from lots of different areas.”

As a final point, Glenn pointed out that a good digital system should pull together all of your requirements to a simple to manage central location.

“All the regulations and obligations that you have to manage within your organisation – permits, licenses – that you need to meet in terms of verification or you might have to do consultation so having a framework where you can put all that in one spot helps you mitigate risks from reputational damage or actually losing a license for something.”

Digital Risk Management Systems Should Adapt With Your Needs

Glenn reinforces that less is more. Keeping things at minimum viable information will increase your level of engagement and reporting by 4 or 5 times. 

Whilst there will always be initial trade-offs – both from what you implement immediately and in terms of the depth vs quantity of data – your system should always help you collect and gain insight from the most important data.

Most importantly, growing and adding additional modules should be simple and allow you to easily expand your safety and risk management programs as your maturity increases. 

Why Choose HSI Donesafe?

HSI Donesafe simplifies EHSQ. By seamlessly combining all Health, Safety, Environmental, Quality, and Risk Management programs into a unified system you’ll reduce admin time while drastically increasing engagement. Accessible everywhere for everyone, from the front-line to the boardroom, your organisation’s safety will always be in sync. 

All your reports. All your insights. All your actions. All in one place. 

Contact us to discuss your unique challenges and one of our team will advise you of the right modules to begin with. Together we’ll roll out a plan that has low stress and high adoption, ensuring a smooth transition for you and your team.

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