Adopting a Digital-First Approach to your EHS Programme

Adopting a Digital-First Approach to your EHS Programme

Workplace rights and overall welfare are now non-negotiable criteria for workers across the UK. To meet this increasing employee prioritisation of social values, employers are (rightly) expected to adopt a safety-first mindset, and the pressure is on from official, and informal, channels to ensure staff are properly looked after and protected in the workplace.

It’s a cultural shift which is compelling business leaders nationwide to acknowledge the importance of employee wellbeing. Furthermore, the introduction of tougher penalties for health and safety (H&S) offences and corporate manslaughter will have driven many companies to take a more active approach in protecting workers from risk.

However, while the emerging good noises and intentions from C-suites around workplace H&S are a positive sign, turning words into tangible actions is often harder to achieve.

For a start, you need to implement a robust Environmental Health & Safety (EHS) programme to build a positive culture and create as safe a working environment as possible. This will encompass all manner of important protocols from official rules, regulations and standards, to internal policies designed to ensure best practice H&S within the business.

It’s much, much more than merely a set of codified dictates, signposts and PPE. Of course, these are important, but without clear direction of their use, in the context of your working environment, they’re next to useless.

To achieve a scenario where these assets resonate, are engaged with, and adopted, you need careful planning. For me, it commences with the development of a comprehensive EHS strategy which leaves no potential risk unaddressed, yet is scalable and easy-to-understand.

Essentially, an EHS strategy is the framework around which your organisation will build a watertight programme to ensure employee safety. It acts as the glue around which all activity can occur, providing structure and crucial clarity for the organisation’s H&S protocol, and how it will be successfully implemented.

A well-drafted strategy will create a useful roadmap which assists the delivery of an ongoing H&S programme, placing milestones and plotting incremental goals to maintain focus and momentum.

Here, it’s important to flag, its development needs to be coupled with clear support from the CEO and board, who need to actively demonstrate their seriousness on the subject of safety, otherwise the strategy is rendered useless. The C-Suite must be fully committed.

Once the strategy is in place, your programme can be built around it, and implemented. Each programme will be unique to the requirement of an individual business. For example, the contents relevant for a chemical plant, where hazardous materials are handled on a daily basis, will be very different from that of a blue chip accountancy firm.

However, there are a number of universal truths which apply, from specifying general health and safety training and ensuring provision for specialist tasks, to ensuring the programme is compliant with current regulations and standards. And that’s just for starts.

Even for small businesses, there’s still a huge amount to consider and, whilst your programme might be as far-reaching as possible, backed by a rock-solid strategy, it can all fall apart if it’s not correctly introduced and managed.

As we move further and deeper into the online-age of work, we’re becoming more reliant on digital technology to help deliver daily tasks and processes. Nowhere is this truer than in the pre-digital management and delivery of an EHS strategy and programme, which was prone to inconsistency, nebulousness and ineffectiveness through lack of engagement.

The last decade has seen the inexorable rise of EHS management software, to help streamline the implementation of an EHS strategy and programme. Recent research indicated that, by 2026, the market would be worth $2.5bn, representing a yearly growth rate of 11.5%.

Typically, the software records compliance data from incidents and inspections, and a range of other safety metrics, and organises this data into dashboards, providing a more complete safety picture. Proven to boost efficiency and effectiveness, these digital tools are demonstrating how corporate EHS delivery can be a constructive and rewarding exercise, dovetailing with commercial objectives, achieving that crucial ROI to keep the C-suite happy.

So, if there was one takeaway from this article, I would suggest it’s giving serious consideration to an EHS software platform to support your programme.

I’ve only scratched the surface of how digital technology has the potential to enhance your EHS programme, keeping it on-track and ensuring the strategic goals are being met and even surpassed.

Ultimately, the benefits to your business are many, from a happier, healthier and more-invested workforce, to fewer accident claims and legal cost pay-outs, less time off related to injury and a better reputation for your company.

Not only will a good EHS programme protect the welfare and wellbeing of your employees, it will also safeguard your business, positioning it to adapt and thrive in a working landscape where company-wide social awareness is essential.

Darragh Geoghegan, VP of Revenue Operations, EcoOnline


Adopting a Digital-First Approach to your EHS Programme