NSC Reflections – Safety Stakeholders

nsc-blogLast week, I was fortunate to attend the National Safety Council Conference as a member of the Intelex contingent. This year, the NSC was hosted in Anaheim California, right around the corner from Disneyland.  Truth be told, it was a nice break from the onset of the Canadian fall weather. The event was well run and was host to over 10,000 attendees looking for ways to move their organizations’ safety programs forward.

The expo was home to over 1,000 exhibitors that represented an incredibly diverse range of health and safety solution providers. Every corner of the expo floor showcased innovations from advancements in fire proof materials to new types of shock absorption, and other forms of personal protective equipment (PPE). One theme expressly present across these innovations was a focus on the primary stakeholder in any safety program – the worker at risk. Vendors showcased new ways to shield workers from heat and fire, protect them from falls, and cushion them from impacts and cuts.

However, from the conversations I had at the conference, along with some of the presentations we were able to attend, there was another more controversial theme that emerged. A simple question – Have we reached the limits of today’s approach to safety and safety innovation?

It was a question that came up in many forms by many people. When we look at the nature of innovations in PPE most, if not all products, were designed to protect workers, “in spite” of unsafe behavior or circumstances. An example being a fire protection vendor who had my favorite value proposition of the week “Guaranteed, no 3rd degree burns”. The implication being that even if a worker were to purposely set themselves ablaze or walk through an inferno, their fire-proof material would ensure that at worst they would “only” incur 2nd degree burns.

Interestingly, one safety director I spoke to mentioned that safety programs and policies themselves often behaved in the same way. Safety programs in his experience were designed to restrict and constrain behavior, including blanket provisions to disallow “unsafe” activities, in an effort to “take the thinking” out of safety. The story he shared with me was about a worker who tripped and fell walking backward on the job to complete one of his tasks. The response from the company was to enforce a ban on walking backward. Not only was this a difficult rule to enforce, but it also severely restricted workers abilities to complete certain tasks as well. However, from a safety program standpoint this rule would eliminate perceived unsafe behavior while ignoring, in this case, the context of what the worker was trying to do and accounting for context of the job.

In that type of environment, it’s no wonder that the biggest challenge we hear from our customers is getting reasonable levels of engagement in their safety programs. Simply put, most workers don’t have the time, nor do they understand why they should be filling out the forms associated with incidents, injuries, hazards, etc.  This sentiment rings true whether they are using paper forms, or some form of software.

That’s why Intelex came to the NSC conference primarily to showcase our new native mobile platform, that goes beyond being a safety application you can use on your phone. Our objective was to use this new mobile channel, which has become very pervasive in all our lives, to make safety activity so frictionless that workers won’t see it as a burden and can start seeing it as a benefit.

The conversations at NSC very much mirrored what we saw in our field research. Over the course of the last year we have talked to and observed in person as many organizations as we could.  What we found is that the people at the front line of these organizations fit the profile of:

  • Field repairman, flight attendant, store clerk, etc…
  • In many cases were generally and aging workforce.
  • Limited technical capabilities – or more accurately limited computer software skills; their jobs often require a high degree of non-software related technical skills.

These workers need to:

  • Submit safety observations, near misses, etc., but their current processes are often paper focused and too time consuming which took them away from their main duties.
  • Hear back from the company about what action was taken on the issues they report. In many cases this feedback often either doesn’t exist or is hard to find and they often suspect that maybe nothing is being done.

Mobile provides them with:

  • Easy and quick way to submit observations, near misses, and incidents. An answer back from the company about what they are doing with my observations etc.

Intelex Mobile puts EHSQ in every worker’s hands. As a native mobile app platform, it lets front line staff capture incidents, observations, defects, and hazards in the moment with a few simple taps.

Intelex Mobile is the only EHSQ solution that blends:

  • Unparalleled ease of use
  • Configurability without sacrificing usability
  • Optimization to capture leading indicators

Intelex Mobile is a major milestone in the Intelex vision to deliver intelligent EHSQ. Unlock the potential that resides within every worker for insights leading to safer, cleaner, more quality-focused decisions. You can learn more about our thoughts on mobile and driving engagement in workers by downloading our free whitepaper Transforming Health & Safety – Digital Disruption with Mobile Technology.


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