What Industrial Challenges Can Be Overcome With an HSE Management System

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- Team Kiri Align
23 Oct 2020

“Every year 2.78 million workers die from occupational accidents and work-related diseases (of which 2.4 million are disease-related) and an additional 374 million workers suffer from non-fatal occupational accidents.” (Source: ilo.org)

These are some of the statistics recorded in 2019 related to workplace incidents. However, the devastating effects of the same on workers and their families cannot be completely calculated. 

Workplace deaths and injuries are just one part of the challenges that businesses face while managing occupational health and safety. 

Even the slightest leniency in carrying out safety operations affects more than just the people in your organisation. Road accidents, missed audit schedules, or missed days due to injuries also affect your overall business efficiency and jeopardizes vendor relationships and/or customer satisfaction.

That is why it goes without saying that safety should be your top priority. Practising industrial safety and complying with regulatory standards, while keeping an eye on all the challenges that you are yet to overcome is the best way to ensure smooth-sailing safety and business operations.

Common Challenges in Industrial Safety Operations

Challenge #1: Workplace Incidents and Hazards

Not being able to track hazards and near misses along with incidents and injuries is the biggest challenge in HSE management for any business. Getting to the root cause of an incident and carrying out a thorough investigation process is vital to make sure an incident doesn’t occur again.

In industries that deal with chemicals, it is important to monitor the impact on the health of workers and the environment. Most industries also require workers to perform repetitive motions that gradually lead to fatal work-related injuries. In order to combat this, you should encourage your employees to take frequent breaks while working, use protective gear, and take proper sleep at night before reporting to work for the next day.

Challenge #2: Proactive Risk Assessment

To stay proactive on risk it is required to measure the risk even before it impacts the business. One of the major challenges faced by businesses while tackling industry safety is not being able to assess safety risks on a daily basis and on a minute level. Instead of tracking, analysing and acting on only the leading indicators, it is also important to measure and assess risks at a job level, process level, and then at the task level.

Lack of clear understanding of the risks and consequences and lack of relevant tools, systems, and techniques to take care of it are some of the challenges that you might encounter while managing health and safety for your business.

Challenge #3: Ever-changing Safety Laws and Regulations

Safety laws and regulations are often complicated and they keep evolving to create safer workplaces for people to work in. As a business owner or safety professional, it might get overwhelming for you to understand and keep up with all the safety laws and regulations.

This gap may lead to non-compliance. The consequences of non-compliance with the safety laws and regulations can be quite fatal for your employees and the business. Hence, it is paramount for you to adapt to the changing laws, communicate them to your employees, and ensure that they are followed by everyone in your organisation.

Challenge #4: Workforce Training

A variety of equipment like machines, plants, vehicles, tools, spare parts, etc. is required in different industries. Thus, to avoid a potential hazard associated with the equipment, training your employees to take utmost care while handling the equipment is paramount.

HSE management leaders should invest in continual workforce training and prioritize it as it is a necessary part of safety and compliance management, rather than just a value-added task. Also, regular training is as vital for employees with long tenure in your organisation as for the newly hired employees.

Challenge #5: Regular Safety and Operational Audits

Every operation in every industry is different, thus having a global audit list and maintaining it is challenging. Also, most businesses aren’t willing to spend their valuable capital on audit lists and audits. The result of this is a process that may identify risks and non-compliance but still doesn’t help prevent major workplace incidents.

In order to ensure industrial safety, you need to find a better way to conduct audits. Traditional audits are repetitive and may not focus on critical risks in specific operations.

Challenge #6: Communication Between Roles

Safety is not just the responsibility of one person or department but of each member in an organisation. If there are departmental silos or communication gaps between departments and roles in an organization, it can have an extremely detrimental impact on your organization’s health, safety, and environment management operations.

To address this challenge, you need to remind your frontline supervisors to communicate safety instructions to your employees every day. Also, activities like tracking and investigating incidents, accessing risks, and reviewing safety tasks should be performed seamlessly without much back and forth in the processes.

Challenge #7: Task Management

Assigning and taking follow-ups for recurring tasks, job safety assessments, or investigations among employees, superiors, and peers can be challenging. 

Apart from that, having a system in place to run reports that summarize the number of complete and incomplete tasks, status and process of each task, who is responsible for the tasks, deadlines of the tasks, etc. is also vital for efficient HSE management.

Challenge #8: Inculcating a Safe Work Culture

Every organisation believes that they’re doing all right things regarding the safety of their organisation and employees. But a workplace can only be 100 percent safe when their workforce is engaged in a safety culture and believes that safety is everyone’s responsibility.

The biggest challenge in inculcating a safety culture for employers is to find a way that involves their workforce at every stage of the process and for the workforce is to demonstrate their commitment towards safety through their day-to-day actions.

Challenge #9: Managing Safety on the Go

Enabling your workforce to easily report and track incidents, access safety policies and documents, handle escalations, conduct audits, and get approvals using any device on the go, whether online or offline is vital for HSE management.

Achieving employee engagement by adopting a safety management system that can be used on mobile phones and other mobile devices is the solution to overcome the challenge of managing safety on the go.

Challenge #10: Changing Employee Mindsets

This is another prominent challenge faced by business owners and safety personnel while managing industrial safety and compliance but mostly gets neglected. Tools and processes can handle certain operations but more often than not, pervasive mind-sets are difficult to handle. 

Fear of change, fear of new tech, fear of blame, disempowerment, trading off productivity with safety, fatalism, and complacency are some of these pervasive mindsets that hinder safety procedures. 

Creating a safety-first mindset, rewarding safe behaviours, developing soft skills, and encouraging every employee to take accountability of their own safety are some of the actions that could be taken to change employee mindsets.

Leveraging an HSE Management System to Overcome Industrial Safety Challenges

Achieving the goal of having a nearly 100% safe and compliant workplace might seem difficult but it is essential for running any business successfully.

Many safety professionals use manual forms, spreadsheets or various software systems for HSE management. When a business is small and there are not many incidents, forms, or documents to manage, these traditional methods might help to some extent. But as your business starts scaling and the number of incidents to tackle increases, you’ll need a robust and sophisticated HSE management system that can be used for various safety operations.

Instead of juggling between the use of manual forms, spreadsheets, and single purpose software tools for managing health and safety of your organisation, it is best to use an all-inclusive HSE management system from the very beginning.

Choose an HSE management system that’s cloud-based and helps you manage all your safety inspections/tasks, incident reporting, training, and storage of safety documentation in a single place.

You can leverage an HSE management system to overcome your industrial safety challenges by creating and storing digital forms, policies, and documents for your business on the go.

These systems also scale up or down as per your business requirements and enable safe working environments for your workforce.

No matter if you have multiple job locations to manage safety and compliance for or need to collaborate with superiors, peers, and employees efficiently to manage safety tasks and operations, you can manage it all easily with a flexible HSE management system.

Moreover, an HSE management system also helps you to instill a safety first mindset and inculcate a safety culture in your workplace.

Now that you know the challenges and solutions associated with industrial safety, invest in a smart HSE management system and leverage it to overcome every safety challenge that your organisation is facing.

Published by: Kiri Align