All’s Well That Ends with Worker Wellness

Health, or more specifically, wellness, is the more often overlooked part of the health and safety equation.

It’s worthwhile for organizations to bring wellness to the fore of health and safety efforts since the chronic health conditions of employees are significant cost drivers for companies of all sizes. Employers who implement an effective, integrated, comprehensive workplace wellness program can have a substantial positive impact on health-related factors that drag down worker productivity: absenteeism, presenteeism, poor morale and employee turnover that result from poorly-managed chronic health conditions and risk factors like smoking, stress, poor sleep habits, inactivity and obesity. So, here’s the bottom line on workplace wellness: it can be an important component of your efforts to improve worker productivity.

It’s important to know, whether you are putting a wellness program in place or improving your existing program, what issues could affect your program’s effectiveness. To maximize the return on your … Read more...

Oil and Gas Explorer Encana Gains Compliance and Efficiency with EMS

Environmental management effectiveness means achieving the obvious result of regulatory compliance, but for Encana Corp., it is essential to gain a good measure of organizational efficiency, too.

Efficiency is particularly important for a company like Encana, a Calgary-based oil and gas exploration and production company, that has a multitude of regulatory objectives to meet, many interdependent departments that exist across the company, and an operation that spans two countries.

Casey Rubin, manager of the environmental information team, says that, in his job of EMS management, he works with a variety of internal groups, including air compliance, field environmental groups, operations, plus regulatory and production coordinators.

In most large corporations it’s often typical to find many redundant efforts such as the collection of the same types of data and performing the same types tasks or processes, yet not having the necessary coordination to streamline across different operating areas or even in … Read more...

NAEM Report Highlights Challenges and Opportunities of Sustainability Practices of Supply Chain

Environmental sustainability, or the efforts made by everyone everywhere to safeguard the planet as well as responsibly use and replenish the finite resource we have in this world, has achieved the rightful status of being a strong business value and a boon to any company’s brand.

Many organizations now realize how a company operates as an environmentally and socially responsible provider of goods and services is – simply put – a good-for-business practice. Specific regulations in Canada, the United States and around the world guide corporations in terms of what they “must” do to achieve compliance. Business ethics, employees, customers and partners compel companies to go above and beyond these prescriptive rules.

Consumer demand for environmentally responsible products is continuing to push the sustainability agenda in terms of importance, transforming how companies relate to their supply chain partners. It’s not enough for a business to do everything it can to … Read more...

A Strong Business Case Can Drive Your Successful EHS Software Implementation

The Purchase of new environmental, health and safety (EHS) software is like a journey along a path of time and effort, in search of the right solution. But, it’s just the beginning.

The end of one road branches off and continues down another path, where you need to discover organizational support for implementation and adoption. It is during software implementation that you may, among other challenges, encounter unexpected resistance from the very people you’d most hoped would benefit from a new set of solutions.

Educating executives and employees alike to the value of EHS software acquisition and ensuring buy-in and support needs to begin before software is purchased then must thread throughout acquisition and implementation stages. It’s worthwhile to consider strategies to help ensure once you have made a software purchase and during implementation, you ultimately gain a system that makes everyone’s life easier and productive.

In weighing the … Read more...

Is It Time to Upgrade your EHS Software?

There’s a shelf life for everything.

Even software has an expected existence. For most well-designed systems, a useful lifetime can be six to eight years. For systems that are less well designed or for applications that evolve quickly, the useful life of business software can be as short as three years.

According to a 2017 survey conducted by the National Association for Environmental Management (NAEM), most companies that are looking at replacing their environment, health & safety (EHS) software have a system in place that is less than five years old   – so, if your system is approaching five years old, it probably is or soon will be outdated.

How do you know your current software is due for a major refresh? You may need new EHS software if:

  • Your EHS software needs to integrate with your other IT systems. Many companies have other business software systems for non-EHS applications
Read more...

The Murky World of EHS Non-Compliance Costs

Administrative fines and enforced remediation costs are among the obvious and often highly publicized consequences of failures to comply with environment, health and safety (EHS) laws. But what about the things that are much more difficult to assess, predict or calculate?

Consider expenses such as those associated with workplace incidents and accidents. These can be unpredictable financial obligations, including payments for insurance premiums or workers’ compensation plans that cover resulting harm, necessary medical expenses and compensatory benefits for those who are injured. What about litigation?

The only way to lower the cost of workers’ compensation in the long run is to lower the frequency and severity of the claims that are driving those costs. It can be a tall order, particularly because premiums have been steadily rising. In the United States, the National Academy of Social Insurance (NASI) estimates employer costs associated with workers’ compensation totaled US$94.8 billion in 2015 … Read more...

OSHA’s Most Common Citations: Machine Guarding

The importance of machine guarding is a matter of life and limb.

Improperly guarded machinery and powered motorized industrial equipment that hasn’t been effectively locked out exposes workers to any number of lethal hazards that can result in serious injuries, such as amputations of limbs, or even death.

Machine guards are those safety features connected to industrial equipment that shields or provides a barrier cover for a machine’s hazardous areas to prevent harmful contact between dangerous moving components and body parts. Machine guards might also barricade hazards such as chips or sparks created from the operation of industrial equipment. These devices protect people from injuries as they are working near or are operating equipment.

Machine guarding is included among the annual list of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA’s) most frequently issued citations. When OSHA determines that a hazard is pervasive, it may create a special enforcement program, called … Read more...

OSHA’s Most Common Citations: Powered Industrial Trucks

What’s the driving force behind many industries around the globe?

Powered industrial trucks, of course – the forklifts or lift trucks used throughout many industries to move materials by raising, lowering or removing large or multiple smaller objects stacked on pallets or in boxes, crates or other containers.

As it is with all moving machinery, there’s high risk in using and being around such equipment. Because of that, Powered Industrial Trucks are included among the annual list of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA’s) most frequently issued citations.

There are many types of powered industrial trucks and each type presents different operating hazards. For example, a sit-down, counterbalanced high-lift rider truck is more likely than a motorized hand truck to be involved in a falling load accident because the sit-down rider truck can lift a load much higher than a hand truck.

Workplace type and conditions are also factors … Read more...

Technology that makes people and workplaces safer

Today’s technology rules and many of us couldn’t be happier about it. 

It’s completely imbedded within our personal lives thanks to ever-present Internet connectivity and slick mobile devices that feed to all of us not just every bit of information we might desire, but it’s also the dominant driving force behind much of our personal and professional interactions and activities.  

That’s hardly groundbreaking news. As far back as 2011, the importance of information technology was abundantly clear. Research conducted back then by network equipment maker Cisco Systems, for example, revealed almost half of 3,000 18- to 30-year-olds surveyed from 14 different countries considered the Internet “an ‘integral part of their lives,’ – one as important as food, water and even air – that they could not live without.” 

Seven years later, we’re all hooked. Technology is everywhere, essential to our modern lives and for the vast majority, it’s how we … Read more...

OSHA’s Most Common Citations: Respiratory Protection Programs

It’s all about breathing easy.

In this ongoing series of blogs about the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Association’s (OSHA’s) list of 10 most cited standards, we now come to the issue of respiratory protection programs.

Sometimes, the best way to protect workers against airborne chemicals in the workplace is to use respirators. Unfortunately, it’s not as simple as buying some facemasks out of the respiratory protection catalog and handing them out to workers. A respiratory protection program requires a fair bit of legwork to create and implement.

You may need a respiratory protection program (29 CFR 1910.134) if your workers are exposed to a hazardous level of an airborne contaminant, and their exposure cannot be reduced below the OSHA permissible exposure limit through the use of engineering controls (for example, substitution or mechanical ventilation), or if workers are exposed to oxygen-deficient atmospheres. You may also require workers to … Read more...