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December 21, 2022
NSC white paper shows the importance of EHS software, apps

Environment, health, and safety (EHS) software and mobile applications can enhance employers’ safety operations to prevent serious injuries and fatalities on the job, according to a new white paper released by the National Safety Council’s (NSC) Work to Zero initiative.

The new report, “Managing Risks with EHS Software and Mobile Applications,” builds on the initiative's earlier “Safety Technology 2020: Mapping Technology Solutions for Reducing Serious Injuries and Fatalities in the Workplace” report released in 2020.

The new report covers the advantages of software and mobile applications, which include:

  • Generating deeper safety insights—Data in a centralized EHS management system gathered from a variety of sources across the enterprise can make it easier for employers to track, monitor, and evolve their safety practices.
  • Ensuring compliance with regulations—Cloud-based EHS platforms can help employers stay up to date with regulatory changes, providing custom inspection checklists to ensure workplaces are both safe and in compliance.
  • Providing cost savings—In addition to preventing employee injuries, EHS software and mobile applications can mitigate the costs associated with employee compensation, recruitment, and illness.
  • Streamlining reporting through mobile technology—EHS software systems deployed and accessed on remote devices like smartphones and tablets can enable employers and supervisors to access audits, incident reports, and real-time safety alerts.

However, the Work to Zero initiative also revealed common barriers to widespread EHS software adoption, such as challenges that large enterprises face in customizing their EHS packages and the limited availability of comprehensive EHS software for smaller organizations. Employers need to select a software provider that offers technical support and resources, according to the report, to ensure they have the level of technical expertise to properly operate EHS software platforms.

Other key findings in the report included:

  • Only 8% of EHS functions have widely adopted artificial intelligence (AI), but 67% of EHS professionals in industrial operations expect AI or predictive analytics to be an area of focus for 2022 and 2023.
  • While larger operations often undertake longer, more expensive implementation projects with custom features to meet their complex EHS software needs, smaller organizations typically choose modular products with prebuilt functionality for common EHS workflows, offering quick deployment and lower costs.
  • The EHS software packages offered by a variety of vendors are powerful tools that help reduce errors, increase data collection, and streamline EHS workflows through digitization.

The Work to Zero initiative’s 2020 reports covered both information technology and equipment to address workplace safety and health hazards. The group identified the most promising technologies for addressing fall hazards, workplace violence risks, and the fatal injury risks of repair and maintenance work.

Earlier this year, the Work to Zero initiative’s SafetyTech Accelerator announced a collaboration with the NSC’s MSD Solutions Lab to design, build, and run an innovation lab to help facilitate the development of musculoskeletal disorder (MSD) prevention technology.

The Work to Zero initiative released a white paper last month examining the use of AI to analyze video—computer vision—to help mitigate the risks of fatal injury in the workplace.

The Work to Zero initiative, which is focused on the elimination of workplace fatalities through the use of technology, is supported by grants from the McElhattan Foundation.

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