About Graham Freeman

Graham Freeman is a content writer and editor at Intelex Technologies in Toronto, where he writes on topics relating to quality management. You can follow Graham on LinkedIn by clicking here: www.linkedin.com/in/graham-freeman-aa5a575b/

Global Supply Chain Fragility Could Have Us Singing the Holiday Blues

The COVID-19 pandemic has taught us that the supply chain can never go back to the way it was pre-pandemic. We’ve learned too much about its fragility and lack of flexibility to choose returning to the status quo.

After a tumultuous year, Canadians have many things for which we can be thankful. So far, a resilient supply chain has been one of them, but that might be about to end, just in time to spoil the holidays. From labor and equipment shortages to process inefficiencies, the cracks in the global supply chain are showing signs of severe pressure that could make it difficult to meet the demands of holiday shopping.  

When the COVID-19 pandemic overtook the world in early 2020, there were dire predictions that the supply chain for critical items like food and medical supplies would collapse. While there were some early disruptions, such as the shortage of personal protective equipment … Read more...

The Global Supply Chain is Under Pressure: People, Not Tools, Can Save It

Labor shortages in the global supply chain are cuasing shortages of fuel and food.
During the pandemic, global supply chains have kept food, vaccines and consumer goods moving. Now, the cracks are starting to show as labor shortages lead to food and fuel crises. 

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, people gave little thought to the workings of the global supply chain. In the world of Amazon and Google, most of us have become accustomed to getting everyday items—from groceries to luxury devices—delivered to our front door simply by engaging a few buttons on our cell phones. While the pandemic might have had a marginal impact on some of the things we were able to obtain, many of us have lived our lockdown lives without any significant disruption to our consumption of material goods. 

However, recent events might suggest that all is not well with the global supply chain. The International Chamber of Shipping has published an open letter to world governments and the World Health Organization (WHO) advocating … Read more...

Lessons from 9/11: How Systems Fail and People Rise to the Occasion

9/11 is more than just a traumatic scar on our memories. It is also a reminder of how systems lacking due care and preparation can fail in a crisis, and of how human beings with training and empathy can shine a powerful light into the darkness to bring aid to those who need it most. 

For those of us of a certain vintage, it’s hard to believe that 9/11 was twenty years ago. Watching footage of the events of that day brings back memories so vivid that it feels as though we’re experiencing them again for the first time. 9/11 is a scar on our collective consciousness. For those who lost someone in the attacks, it is a trauma that will never completely heal. 

It’s striking that the way we refer to that event—“9/11”—demonstrates an intriguing way we think about time in relation to cataclysmic disasters. “9/11” represents a day, a twenty-four-hour … Read more...

The Human Tragedy of the Cost of Poor Quality

From vaccine production errors to technology failures during a season of dangerous forest fires, quality management is frequently a factor that determines whether first responders can help people in need using reliable, resilient equipment and resources.

The world is full of regular reminders that risk is hiding everywhere and that failure to follow quality principles can produce errors that aggregate into disasters. From vaccine production errors to technology failures during a season of dangerous forest fires, quality management is frequently a factor that determines whether first responders can help people in need using reliable, resilient equipment and resources.

When we think about the cost of poor quality (COPQ), we usually think about things like rework, brand damage, lost sales opportunities or lost customer loyalty. Sometimes, however, the cost is much more severe. In some cases, a grieving family is left to mourn the loss of a loved one, while the … Read more...

Brand Damage, Financial Liability, Criminal Charges: The High Cost of Not Meeting Regulatory Compliance Obligations

AI can reduce the cost of regulatory compliance
ehsAI’s next-wave compliance technology uses a patent-pending artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) solution to analyze, organize and summarize complex regulatory documents.

Around the world, organizations in every industry have obligations to follow the requirements outlined in various rules, regulations, permits and directives. These requirements outline the way in which a company operates day-to-day, its interaction with the environment and its obligations to the health and safety of its workers.

Regulations can be mandated by any level of government or can be specific within certain industries, with a few important examples being Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSH Act), the Clean Air Act and the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA).

When organizations don’t meet their regulatory obligations, the result can be brand damage, financial liability and even criminal charges. For example, Volkswagen has paid billions to settle allegations that it used elaborate technology to cheat emissions tests and deceive … Read more...

WHO Report on COVID-19 Response Shows the Importance of Organizational Learning and System Preparedness

In May 2021, The Independent Panel for Pandemic Preparedness and Response presented its final report on the response to the COVID-19 pandemic to the World Health Organization. A significant lesson from the report is that standard EHSQ practices could have improved the COVID-19 response, reinforcing the importance of organizational learning and system preparedness.

The report, titled COVID-19: Make it the Last Pandemic, aims to provide insights into how the world responded to the fast-moving pandemic in its early stages, as well as how to learn the important lessons that can mitigate the impact of future health crises. While the report contains many frustrating and heart-breaking insights, EHSQ professionals will probably recognize some familiar themes. This summary will provide some examples of important elements of the COVID-19 response and the lessons we can learn from them.

Summary of the Impact of COVID-19

The report describes COVID-19 as the 21st century’s … Read more...

How the Capacity to Pivot Could Protect the Food Supply Chain

despite some disruptions to certain elements of the food supply, the food retail industry has so far demonstrated remarkable resiliency during the pandemic.

The theme of food has loomed large in the narrative of COVID-19. Early in the pandemic, fears of mass disruption of food supply chains led consumers to ransack supermarket shelves and hoard non-perishable items like soup, pasta and rice.

Yet despite some disruptions to certain elements of the food supply, such as shortages of meat resulting from COVID-19 outbreaks at critical meat processing facilities, the food retail industry has so far demonstrated remarkable resiliency during the pandemic. This is not to say that the food supply chain has emerged unscathed.

Lessons Learned about Food Supply Chain Resiliency

In a recent article in the journal Applied Economic Perspectives and Policy, Chenarides et al (2021) examine the devastating impact of the pandemic on the food service distribution channel … Read more...

Quality Management Can’t Be Optional Anymore

Here is an unfortunate truth: the story of the COVID-19 pandemic is one of epic quality failures in almost every area imaginable.

While there have been some admirable successes, such as the food and beverage organizations that have ensured the continued safe delivery of food supplies to most regions, failures both large and small have caused an untold amount of damage to the infrastructure of society and business. Arguably, these quality failures have worsened the impact of the pandemic, including economic devastation and even a higher death toll. 

Here are just a few of the quality failures that will become prominent themes in the narrative of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

PPE Shortages and Quality Failures 

Almost immediately after the start of the pandemic, healthcare organizations worldwide faced a critical shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE) such as the crucial N95 respirators that would protect doctors, nurses and other frontline workers from infection. There were … Read more...

Your Training Probably Won’t Prevent Nuclear War, But It Might

Effective Training Strategies

On September 26, 1983, the Soviet early warning system detected the launch of five intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM) from the United States. Rather than launch an immediate retaliation—which was the standard protocol—the Soviet commander on duty, Stanislav Petrov, determined that an attack by the United States would most likely involve an overwhelming number of ICBMs, not a handful. Petrov decided that the launch detection was a computer malfunction and did not issue orders for a nuclear counterstrike, despite not having the computer access to prove his belief. Petrov was proven correct when the American missiles did not arrive. In subsequent interviews, Petrov credited his training with providing him with the critical thinking skills to assess and judge the probabilities of the situation. Today he is recognized as the man whose clear thinking in a stressful situation helped prevent a global catastrophe.

While the consequences of poor training aren’t as high … Read more...

How BSI is Creating Health and Safety Standards to Protect the Public from COVID-19.

Face Masks and BSI Standards

Before 2020, most people who didn’t work in health and safety or who weren’t required to wear PPE for their job knew what the acronym means. By March of that year, the coronavirus pandemic had ensured that the term personal protective equipment (PPE) was now on everyone’s lips.

Since then, news reports and social interactions have been dominated with discussions about masks. Health agencies, governments, and private businesses have provided guidance and policies about wearing masks in public, while the early stages of the pandemic saw massive supply chain failures endanger the flow of critical supplies of PPE like N95 respirators to the healthcare workers who needed them most. Since most people don’t typically keep a supply of personal PPE such as masks available to them at all times, the mandates requiring masks in public created a surging demand for cloth masks, which was met by various entrepreneurs, clothiers, and … Read more...