Elements of Leadership and the EHS Professional – Part One

In an article published in the Harvard Business Review titled, “Managers and Leaders: Are They Different?”, the author explores the difference between “leadership” and “management.” “It takes neither genius nor heroism to be a manager,” he wrote, “but rather persistence, tough-mindedness, hard work, intelligence, analytical ability and perhaps most important, tolerance and goodwill.” Granted, one would be hard pressed to deny that these are not admirable qualities, but it is doubtful that these qualities would ever deliver sustainable EHS performance in a complex and dynamic organization.

Over the past 25 years of my career, I’ve spent most of my time working in local and corporate level positions striving to improve EHS process and performance. Over the years, I discovered that organizations best optimize their efforts when they provide strong well-balanced leadership. Strong and well-balanced meaning that it does not lie strictly on a regulatory focus, but considers employee capability and … Read more...

How Software Provider Innovation Is Driving Change in QMS Validation

Important changes are taking place in the way many software providers develop their products, ones that have direct impacts on the validation process.

Waterfall development vs. Agile development

For many years, developers have used the “waterfall” model to create their software. This involves creating a fully developed version of the software before presenting it to customers or internal customer representatives for testing and feedback. Each step – plan, analyze, design, construct, test, deploy and maintain – is done one after the other, forming a waterfall visual.

Here, all user requirements are defined before anything is developed. A major drawback to the Waterfall model is that it is often impossible to know all user requirements at the outset of a software development project. Those that are identified often change during the months-long development cycle. Others do not become evident to users until the completed version is put before them. Developers … Read more...

Your Data is Your Most Valuable Asset: Getting Started with Quality 4.0

Data science and machine learning have surged in prominence over the past few years, and digital transformation seems to be on everyone’s agenda. Have you ever wondered why? Even though quality engineering has long been a data-driven pursuit, we now have the potential to get even deeper insights from our data because of several recent innovations:

  • Computing power per dollar has increased steadily (e.g. through adoption of GPUs).
  • Open-source software packages with powerful machine learning algorithms are freely available, reliable, robust, and well-maintained.
  • Infrastructure for data storage and management is readily available and cost-effective.
  • Cloud-based software, platforms, and infrastructure helps companies focus on their core competencies and scale rapidly when needed.
  • Algorithms are often more revealing when Big Data is available.

It’s easy and cheap to collect data but using it to generate actionable insights can be more challenging. Think, for example, about the digital displays available to a production … Read more...

Facilitate Behavior Change: When to Hit Peak Motivation

It’s no secret that motivation ebbs and flows. We all feel this throughout the year, the month, the week and even experience day-specific variations in levels of productivity.

Research has shown that certain times of the year and even certain days of the week are more productive than others. As an EHS professional, you need to take advantage of peak motivation to facilitate behavior change to make your workplace safer, increase productivity or even just to create a more positive work environment.

Peak Motivation Times

  • September (back to school vibes and everyone is returning from vacation)
  • January (piggy-back on the excitement around New Year’s resolutions)
  • Early spring (in much of North America and across Europe this is a time when many emerge from the sobering effects of Seasonal Affective Disorder or just the winter blues in general)
  • Pay day
  • Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday. Let Mondays be a time for employees
Read more...

Quality in the Medical Devices Industry

Each industry will have different interpretations of the concept of Quality and how to prioritize its tenets within their own field of practice, expertise and work experience. Perhaps the best fundamental principle is the definition of Quality given by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) as “the degree to which a set of inherent characteristics fulfills requirements where a requirement is a need or expectation.” This look at the Medical Devices sector is one in a series of blogs that provides a quick look at how the concept of Quality applies in different industries.

Quality in the medical device industry touches every stage of the manufacturing process and the organization. Most medical device manufactures have a dedicated Quality Assurance group that ensures compliance with regulations relating to design, manufacture, and records management. The fundamental principle of medical devices is safety for the user, whether that user is the patient or … Read more...

Health and Safety 101 for HR Professionals

Workplace health and safety (H&S) programs protect an organization’s most important asset: its people. No one wants to see their people get hurt on the job (or at home, for that matter). A company’s Human Resources (HR) department plays an important role in championing, administering and communicating H&S requirements. In some organizations, HR is multi-hatted and owns the H&S responsibilities.

However, the ins and outs of H&S can be overwhelming. There are a number of things you can do to make it less so.

  • Recognize that you are not solely responsible. Form a team to help! A team or committee can help you identify H&S risks, communicate H&S requirements throughout the organization, and obtain critical input and buy-in for your H&S program.
  • Set a company policy. It is important to have an H&S policy for the organization to serve as the cornerstone of the H&S culture. The policy should outline
Read more...

Diseases, Not Accidents, Are the Biggest Health and Safety Challenge in the Workplace

Here are some sobering and surprising numbers about workplace health and safety: 2.4 million deaths globally are attributable to work-related diseases. Many of these diseases are born from exposure to chemicals and other workplace hazards over long periods of time. These diseases represent 85 percent of all work-related deaths every year. They will claim 270 lives in the next hour and every hour after that. That’s the equivalent of the death toll of the 9/11 terrorist attacks every 11 hours.

The problem is getting worse as you read this. In 2015, there were 2.4 million deaths that were attributable to work-related disease, which represents an increase of 0.4 million over 2011.

It seems astonishing that a problem of this magnitude should not only exist in the 21st century, but that it could be getting worse. Yet work-related disease presents significant challenges for even the most attentive and meticulous organizations. … Read more...

Quality in the Food Safety Industry

Each industry will have different interpretations of the concept of Quality and how to prioritize its tenets within their own field of practice, expertise and work experience. Perhaps the best fundamental principle is the definition of Quality given by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) as “the degree to which a set of inherent characteristics fulfills requirements where a requirement is a need or expectation.” This look at the Food Safety sector is one in a series of blogs that provides a quick look at how the concept of Quality applies in different industries.

The global food supply chain is increasingly complex – especially when it comes to addressing food safety incidents and recalls. Food moves around the world in an international marketplace, and the potential for error with catastrophic health consequences for consumers is high. Each year in the United States, 48 million people fall ill as a result … Read more...

Five Tips for Intelex Application Design Success

By Jeremy Milam

The secret to designing a new custom application in Intelex is breaking the process down into small steps. Let’s take a closer look at the planning aspects involved with designing a new app.

Requirements gathering

Requirements gathering is probably the most vital piece of the process. It is very important to get the application stakeholders in a room and ask some key questions. One of those questions is: “How (if at all) are you currently capturing this data – are you writing everything down, using spreadsheets, or using another application?” This gives stakeholders a chance to give the pros and cons of their current system.

Data/reporting outputs

Data and reporting outputs are vital to getting buy-in from stakeholders. At the end of the day, that’s what people want to see. Even at this early stage with no data in the system, you can be thinking about how … Read more...

Leverage HR Data to Drive a Powerful EHSQ Program

By Saif Iqbal

For IT professionals responsible for Environment, Health & Safety, and Quality (EHSQ) programs, gathering the essential data required to make their program a success is harder than it seems. EHSQ often has heavy overlap with Human Resources (HR) data, and for many large organizations, the HR system is at the heart of every process. When success of one system depends on another, having a reliable flow of HR data into your EHSQ system brings value to the success of both programs.

A key measure of EHSQ success in all parts of the world is being able to meet the ever-increasing demands of compliance requirements – and this involves information about employees and the departments in which they work. Ensuring the workers’ information is available in your EHSQ system can have positive impacts on employee engagement, inter-organizational communication and helping to mitigate risks associated with inconsistent data.

So, … Read more...