FDA Looks to Eliminate Trans-Fat and Charges Laid in Lac-Megantic Derailment

On this week’s edition of EHS This Week we’ve got the week’s top stories in environment, health and safety news:

  • Federal Government Lays New Charges in 2013 Lac-Mégantic Train Derailment
  • FDA Looking to Eliminate Trans-Fat from Processed Foods

Remember to write us with your suggestions, questions and comments. Also, if you are an industry expert and ever want to take part in the program, we’d love to have you. Until next week, enjoy the program!

EHS This Week Resources

For more information on the stories and resources mentioned in this week’s podcast, check out the links below.

  • Charges Laid Against Railway in Lac-Megantic Crash. Click here
  • FDA Cuts Trans Fat in Processed Foods. Click here.

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Collecting Data from the Field? Follow this Formula for Success!

A drill operator at an oil rig is looking tired and “out of it.” He’s yawning, his movements are slow, and he doesn’t appear to be paying much attention to detail.

Immediately, the supervisor relieves the drill operator of his duties and reassigns the task. He quickly enters the work observation in his iPad. His device has an offline mode that will sync up with his safety management system as soon as he has internet access again.

Back at the office, the safety manager’s dashboard updates in real time.

Sounds like a pipe dream? The technology exists now – the only barrier is getting end users to adopt it. The key to adoption is simplicity.

“If you want people to use it, you have to make it simple. As simple as possible,” a senior oil and gas safety VP said to me recently. With over 30 years in the industry, this executive has seen systems mature from paper to software. Before the arrival of web-based solutions, data collection and analysis existed on just one person’s desktop. Now, data collection is taking place on laptops or desktops—and any other device that can access the internet.

The business case for mass collection of data in the field is a compelling one. Whether or not you collect that data and analyze it, those events are still occurring. By capturing as much information as you can, you’re able to develop a greater understanding of those events. Unfortunately, these systems are being designed like paper. That is, people are trying to capture as much information on the page as possible.

Surprise: Software is Different than Paper

Often we see the paper form being replaced by a software form that looks just like the original. The thought is that familiarity will result in user adoption. However, that thinking doesn’t account for the ways that software is different from paper. Let’s think about it: the paper form was designed 15 years ago in an afternoon to be able to fit on one page. This design doesn’t take into account the need to quickly enter information on a screen. With software, data should be captured in check boxes, radio buttons, and drop downs to produce bar graphs and pie charts. Great, the thought is, let’s get as much of this as possible!

Safety professionals are seeking data that will help take safety management to the next level. They’re asking questions like: What else can I collect information on? What else do I need to know? How many ways can I slice and dice this data?

Unfortunately, what’s happening is that too much is being asked of the people in the field. A supervisor who wants to enter a simple work observation has to classify, categorize, and capture a dozen or more data points. It results in a feeling of pencil pushing.

“Too much isn’t good either,” an energy safety manager told me, referring to the data that their field team would have to enter into the system. “You have to think, these guys out there have never had to use a computer before. Now we’re asking them to not only type on a small screen, but to enter a lot and spend a lot of time doing it.” The safety manager was wrestling with a challenge: his people had to enter information into nearly 75 form fields in the first report of injury. It was too much, and it wasn’t going to work. His decision to take a step back and to limit the required fields to “who,” “what” and “where” completely changed the way that users viewed the system.

The Winning Formula: Gather Now, Classify Later

“Just get my team the data from the field,” the oil & gas safety director said, “and we’ll figure out the rest. I would rather have someone from my team classify the record than someone from the field.” The design was simple: get only the bare minimum information and let his safety professionals enter the rest during their investigation.

The director paused, and added “It’s going to change anyways once we investigate. So why not enter it once, correctly?”

With this decision, the company simplified their forms considerably and removed a huge barrier to user adoption. In fact, their end users picked the software up faster than anyone had expected, and the company was able to quickly realize the benefits of increased availability of field data.

Collecting Data from the Field? Follow this Formula for Success!

The Secret to Streamlined Safety Compliance

Let’s face it, the world as we know it is changing. For the most part that’s a very good thing. As health and safety professionals one way that we see these changes is in increasing regulatory pressures. For example, as of January 2015, OSHA has increased pressure on U.S.-based businesses regarding reporting of workplace incidents. These new requirements include reporting work-related fatalities within 8 hours and severe work-related injuries within 24 hours.

Ultimately these changing regulations are a good thing. But the question that’s in the minds of businesses across America is “How can I keep up with these changing regulations, and do it in a way that isn’t disruptive to my business?”

After all, safety isn’t just about the human tragedies that can accompany workplace safety incidents, there is a significant financial cost to noncompliance as well. Fines for noncompliance with these regulations can run into millions of dollars in the most severe cases.

The answers to these questions aren’t simple. However, there is one initial step that can benefit nearly every company concerned about health and safety compliance – Take a look at what’s new in software tools and systems for health and safety management.

The famed technology investor Mark Andreesen has been saying for years that Software is eating the world. His view is that software is making our collective lives easier, across the board, by streamlining and in some cases eliminating mundane and repeatable tasks.

The EHS world is no different. Software tools in this space are designed to help safety professionals do their jobs more efficiently. One side effect of this is that spending less time on repeatable tasks can free up time to do “other” work such as proactive investigation and analysis that goes beyond simply complying with regulations, and drives real improvements in how a company is run.

Here’s the top 4 ways that EHS software could help you better manage health and safety compliance.

1. More data, and better data

The first step in answering any question is gathering facts. It’s like an old detective story. Collect as much information about the incident that happened before jumping to any conclusions. The more data you’re able to gather about an incident (or a near-miss), the more evidence you will have to base any decisions on.

That’s where software tools really begin to shine. Are you still tracking your incidents with paper or through spreadsheets? How easy is it to really dig into and explore that data? By moving all that valuable (but hidden) data into a purpose built safety database, you’ll be taking a giant leap forward in your ability to stay compliant.

 2. Track incidents where they happen and when

Health and safety incidents don’t always happen near a computer. In fact I’d bet they rarely happen near a computer. These days though, almost all of us have access to a smart phone or tablet device. Modern health and safety software tools allow employees to use these “always with us” gadgets to log safety incidents where and when they occur.

Being able to make note of what happened, when it happens, is a great way to ensure quality and accuracy in your data.

3. Workflows for accountability and transparency

Once you’ve gotten a better handle on data, software tools can help you “use it” far more efficiently. These tools will help you manage and distribute that data easier than ever before.

Do certain people or parts of the company need to be made aware of an incident? Done. Automated workflows can make sure that anyone who needs to know about an incident, will know about it – including regulatory bodies.

Do certain people in the company need to sign off on decisions before action take place? Again, automated workflows can help here. It’s not just about keeping track of what happens, safety is just as much about making sure everyone is aware of what happened when they need to know about it. This creates accountability through awareness.

4. Data driven decision making

It happened to the world of finance and it’s even happened to baseball. Data driven decisions. While on the job experience should never be discounted. Data has an uncanny ability to help people make better decisions.

Do you have a gut feel about a concerning trend that may be emerging? Use your incident data to validate your hunch. Sharing concerns around a negative safety trend and accompanying it with a chart showing a spike in something concerning is a sure way to get the attention of your management and your executives.

The world of safety and compliance has changed drastically over the past few years, and that pace of change is only getting faster. The great news is that health and safety software tools are evolving just as quickly. These four steps are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to how EHS software can make your life easier, but are a great place to start streamlining how you manage your safety compliance.



The Secret to Streamlined Safety Compliance

FAA Launches Fly Safe Campaign, Pope Francis’ Encyclical and More!

On this week’s edition of EHS This Week we’ve got the week’s top stories in environment, health and safety news:

  • FAA Launches Fly Safe Campaign
  • Pope Francis Releases Encyclical on Climate and Environment
  • Update from the Oil and Gas Industry

Remember to write us with your suggestions, questions and comments. Also, if you are an industry expert and ever want to take part in the program, we’d love to have you. Until next week, enjoy the program!

EHS This Week Resources

For more information on the stories and resources mentioned in this week’s podcast, check out the links below.

  • FAA Launches Fly Safe Campaign. Click here
  • What you need to know about Pope Francis’ Encyclical. Click here.
  • COP 21 Paris, Climate Change Conference. Click here

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FAA Launches Fly Safe Campaign, Pope Francis’ Encyclical and More!

Edison Electric Institute, Elon Musk & the Future of Utilities

Last week marked the Edison Electric Institute (EEI) annual convention, which was held this year in New Orleans and hosted 800 utility executives from June 7-10.

The 2015 convention was an unusual one. In the past, the electrical utility industry has not always been especially interested in discussing alternative forms of energy. This year’s event, however, promised to “showcase the ideas and innovations that are transforming the future of the electric power sector.” The convention delivered, kicking off the week with a discussion featuring Tesla founder Elon Musk. A bold choice, given recent global headlines that range from “Musk Battery Works Fill Utilities with Fear and Promise” (December 2014, Bloomberg) to “Elon Musk is Both Utility Killer and Utility Savior” (May 2015, Business Spectator). To say that the industry’s feelings are mixed might be an understatement.

The electric utility industry is a large market responsible for $372 billion total revenues in 2014 from sales to end customers. It’s also a market that is undergoing some very significant and fundamental restructuring, illustrated in EEI’s recent report, “Thought Leaders Speak Out: The Evolving Electric Power Industry.”

According to Musk, the future of the industry will see about one-third of all electric power coming from distributed generation, including an increasing amount coming from solar generation. It would be quite a shift; in the twelve months through March 2015, utility scale solar power generated just 0.50% of total U.S. electricity.

Despite these humble beginnings, the future for solar and other renewables looks bright. EEI forecasts that renewable sources will increase their capability by almost 45% over the period of 2014 through 2040. However, connecting these new solar systems to the grid hasn’t been as simple as flipping the switch, and has so far proved to be a challenging process for utilities. When looking at distributed solar power interconnection challenges and best practices, the Solar Electric Power Association reported that the issue is further complicated by the fact that less than 5% of utilities are processing 75% of the distributed solar power interconnections.

The traditional utility business model is changing, and it’s happening in tandem with shifting consumer demands and a number of regulations poised to create further disruption in the industry. According to a 2015 PwC survey, 89% of power & utilities CEOs are nervous about regulatory upheaval. Keeping up with compliance requirements is becoming an increasingly challenging prospect. But the industry is looking to the future and powering on.

Lisa Wood, vice president of The Edison Foundation, also spoke of the electric power industry as being in the middle of a high-stakes transition. “The key questions for policymakers are whether the regulatory paradigm can be redesigned to best support the power industry transition that’s underway and whether this can be done collaboratively,” she said.

U.S. Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz was in attendance to help launch the conference as well, and he took the opportunity to highlight the key role that the sector will play in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and adopting new, clean technologies. Whether this is a role that utilities will play by choice or due to necessity is still uncertain.

One thing that is certain: it’s an interesting time to be an electric utility in the U.S.

Edison Electric Institute, Elon Musk & the Future of Utilities

Don’t Let Training Hold Your Safety Culture Back

People are the most important resource for any company, no matter the industry. Because of this, ensuring that people resources are working efficiently and effectively should be a universal executive priority. Sadly one element of that workforce productivity that falls through the cracks is corporate safety culture.

Creating a culture of safety requires a deep understanding of the organizational-wide hazards and potential dangers of the workplace, whatever they may be. But these days many organizations are falling short of this goal.

The safety training gap

One reason for this gap in safety awareness and importance is training, or lack thereof. The reality is that training employees on the dangers of the workplace and how to avoid them can be a bit easier said than done. Developing training programs that will resonate and spur changes in behavior is a difficult, but important task.

For this to happen, training programs and materials must be relevant and understandable. Training should take into account the needs of new workers and existing workers. Great training programs must also take into consideration when work practices or work equipment changes, job changes, and even the introduction of new technology.

Safety training needs to convey a message that as an employee, you have a duty to co-operate with a company’s preventive measures, following instructions in accordance with training given and taking care of your own and work mates’ safety and health. In other words, training needs to help people understand how to work safely.

So what steps can you put in place to ensure that your health and safety training will be a program that drives real results, and helps your organization take steps towards building a culture of safety?

Here are three simple, but effective tips to keep in mind:

1.      Walk a mile in employees shoes

It’s very old advice, but advice that works tends to be the kind that gets old. In this case this old advice can definitely be applied to safety training.

Whenever you are developing any type of training program, it’s important to keep your audience in mind. For the program to be successful, it needs to resonate and speak to your audience in a language they understand.

An easy way to understand the language (and context) of safety for your workers, is to spend some time in their world, and spend time walking in their shoes.

Doing so can start with a simple mental exercise. Ask yourself these questions when developing your safety training:

  • How will safety policy changes affect this person’s ability to do their job and day to day tasks?
  • How will these results be measured, and do those metrics make sense to workers?
  • How can training impact these safety results in a positive way?

2.      Don’t ignore the data

When it comes to business decisions, it’s important to not only rely on your gut, but to back-up any gut instincts with data. In the world of safety and safety training that means being able to define safety standards with specific numbers and use them to identify improvement goals and milestones.

This is where turning to health and safety software can help. The real value of safety software shows up in two ways. First, by recording all incidents and near misses, data can show you your benchmark results. Second, by keeping accurate and thorough records, you can also help to identify root causes of your safety incidents. With these two sets of observations you can begin to make decisions such as whether issues are isolated cases, or if concerning trends are emerging that should be identified as areas for improvement through training.

It’s important to note that seeing under-performing results, while unfortunate, is OK. That is simply a data proof point that perhaps your training programs could use a refresh or revisit, to improve results moving forward.

3.      Spend some time out in the field

Every once in a while the data can be misleading. There is no better way to verify or double check what data is telling you, than to venture out into the field.

Would you like to know how training results are impacting the day to day activities of your workers?

Go out and observe them in their natural habitat. Sometimes it’s the indirect behavioral changes that end up making the biggest difference. Observations at the field level allow you to make note of these and account for them in future training revisions.

Safety training, and the topic of safety culture, is huge conversation that involves many other elements. But hopefully these three tips give you some food for thought as you’re planning out your own corporate safety initiatives. If you have any comments or feedback, we’d love to hear those as well, so feel free to leave your thoughts in the comment section below.







Don’t Let Training Hold Your Safety Culture Back

Intelex Hits the Fairways for the 5th Annual Spring Classic!

Well the 5th Annual Spring Classic Golf Tournament is officially in the books, and wow! What a success it was! We want to take this opportunity to thank all of the Intelexians who came out and took part in the tournament. AND our hats go off to the Deer Creek Country Club for – once again – stepping up to the tee and delivering yet another great hit for the tournament.

The Spring Classic golf tournament is one of many Intelex organized events throughout the year. It is arguably one of the most anticipated events in the Intelex calendar and continues to get bigger and better every year – and this year’s edition delivered as promised. This year, we had nearly 100 participants who hit the links for a day of sunshine, team building, and a little friendly competition.

Everyone was assigned to teams of 4 and split into two separate golf courses. Each team was divided evenly based on skill set, experience level, and work department.  With the teams set, golf clubs in check and a refreshing beverage in hand, the groups set out to conquer the pristine roughs and fairways of Deer Creek.

This year’s tournament went down to the wire, with Top honors going to the team of Giuliano Valentino, Brian Chiu and Mitch Doyle, who slugged it out with the team of Tian Zhao, Brian Stewart, Josh Easby and Michael Picard-Vu. Both teams finished in a tie and to settle to the tie, we had ourselves a good ol fashion rap battle! When it was all said and done, MC Valentino came out on top and helped his team claimed this year’s title and had their names forever immortalized in the Spring Classic Trophy.

We’re still searching for the video recording of the rap battle, but rumor has it that Giuliano is shopping the recording as a demo to catapult his rap career. Stay tuned for an update!

Honorable mentions also go out to Brian O’Brian and Katherine Braznick for their pin-point precision in the “closest to the pin” challenge. As well as Josh Easby and Katherine Braznick for winning the longest drive competition.

Congratulations to all of the winners – look forward to seeing everyone out on the course next year for what promises to be an even bigger event! For those who didn’t get a chance to make it out this year (shame on you!), we want to extend an early invitation for next year’s tournament. Hope to see everyone out there next year!

Let the countdown begin!

Intelex Hits the Fairways for the 5th Annual Spring Classic!

Keeping Older Workers Safe, ASSE Update, “Safety Think”, and More!

On this week’s edition of EHS This Week we’ve got the week’s top stories in environment, health and safety news:

  • An Update from ASSE Safety 2015 Conference
  • Construction Workers and Hearing Conservation
  • How “Safety Think” Can Change Safety
  • Keeping Older Workers Safe and Healthy

Remember to write us with your suggestions, questions and comments. Also, if you are an industry expert and ever want to take part in the program, we’d love to have you. Until next week, enjoy the program!

EHS This Week Resources

For more information on the stories and resources mentioned in this week’s podcast, check out the links below.

  • Construction Workers and Hearing Conservation. Click here
  • “System Think” Changing Safety. Click here.
  • Keeping Older Workers Safe and Healthy. Click here

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Keeping Older Workers Safe, ASSE Update, “Safety Think”, and More!