Directly from the Source: How to Best Transform EHS Today’s Return to Work Survey Results into Action Plans

There’s something to be said about hearing something directly from the source. No presumptions, no exaggeration—just pure, unadulterated facts. It’s for that very reason that surveys and focus groups play such a critical role in business in general and in EHS in particular. While this applies to most initiatives, this is especially true for return to work (RTW) programs, as they were developed quickly in response to the sudden outbreak of COVID-19.

For these programs, capturing employee feedback, particularly in the early stages post implementation, is critical. This is not only to improve processes where areas of improvement have been identified but also to course-correct where action plans are not working. Essentially, creating closed-loop processes will differentiate evolving RTW ones from their static counterparts.

To explore this further, we will look at the latest survey-focused report published by EHS today, Safety Professionals Prepare for the Post-Pandemic Workplace.


EHS Today’s Safety
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Learning through Proven Methods: Driving Business Resiliency by Applying Best Practices in Lean

Despite juggling competing priorities, building resilient systems and processes within their organizations continues to be top of mind for business leaders today and is anticipated to be so for the foreseeable future. As such, the first logical step is to turn to existing methods and approaches that have been proven to be effective—of these, lean is a strong contender.


Starting from the Beginning: The Definition of Lean


Defined as “a way of providing maximum customer value while minimizing effort, equipment, time, and waste in the production system,” lean is based on five principles:

  1. Value is defined according to the customer’s perception of it.
  2. Organizations must map the entire value stream and eliminate anything that doesn’t contribute to customer value.
  3. Products and services must flow smoothly to the customer with no interruptions.
  4. Customer requirements pull value upstream along the process.
  5. Perfection with no waste is the goal of the production system.
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Safe + Sound Week: Redefining Health – Achieving Completion by Incorporating Mental Health

In the words of acclaimed poet Robert Frost: “the best way out is always through.”

While that saying can be applied to many different things, I found it especially relevant to that of the perception of mental health. It is an area which not only has been underestimated or downplayed for years, but also has been deemed unsolvable. In recent years, it’s become more than evident that neither of these schools of thought are accurate.

Full disclosure: I’m not a professional in the mental health field. I am, however, a professional in the ESHQ software space and the H in EHSQ represents health. Recently, EHS practitioners are learning “health” now includes mental health.

More importantly though, this topic hits home for me. In my close network of family and friends, two people have been afflicted with mental health-related issues. As such, I’ve seen firsthand how it not only impacts them … Read more...

Putting Work-Related Falls Behind Us: The Application of Key Fall Prevention Practices and Guidelines

We’ve all seen videos and cartoons that feature silly slips and falls: Lucy pulling the football away as Charlie Brown aimed a kick; someone slipping on a banana peel; people slipping and sliding on icy surfaces; someone falling off a ladder, arms flailing wildly as they try to catch themselves. The truth is, falls are no laughing matter.

Workplace-related falls are the third leading cause of workplace death in the United States. Equally as alarming is the fact that they made up 22 percent of total unintentional deaths in 2018. There are similar trends north of the border, with over 40,000 Canadians experiencing similar injuries.


Keeping Things in Check: OSHA-Mandated Regulations


From a regulatory perspective, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has published regulations to address these issues. Organizations are required to provide fall protection “at elevations of four feet in general industry workplaces, five feet in shipyards, six … Read more...

Making Worker and Pedestrian Safety a High Priority: Guidelines to Use When Developing a Robust Walking-Working Surfaces Program

As the saying goes: “Safety isn’t expensive, it’s priceless.”

Falls on level – slips, trips and falls – can be some of the most debilitating and expensive injuries workers can suffer and contribute to a surprising number of worker deaths each year. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics states that “on average, slips, trips and falls cause nearly 700 fatalities per year.” As such, it’s become increasingly clear that this requires attention as well as improved practices and programs.

OSHA’s Standards and Recommended Practices


Designed to protect workers from injuries caused by problematic walking-working surfaces, OSHA updated its existing standards in 2017 and now include training and stricter risk mitigation practices and procedures (e.g. more inspections). Organizations ultimately are responsible for ensuring that they develop walking-working surfaces programs.

Effective Walking-Working Surface Programs: Insights and Tactical Recommendations by Industry Experts


With over 25 years of experience under his belt, Scott Gaddis, … Read more...

Strengthen Your Organization’s Workplace Safety Program by Incorporating Electrical-Focused Checklists

Protecting workers, particularly around hazardous energy, is an important aspect of workplace safety. Electrical and lockout/tagout hazards can be deadly or cause serious, disabling injuries, so it is important to train workers and follow standards and company guidelines about working around electricity and energized equipment.

Intelex Technologies and Predictive Solutions have developed ‘Don’t Be Shocked: An Electrical Safety Checklist‘ to provide insight into managing electrical hazards. As reported by The Electrical Safety Foundation International, there were 160 worker fatalities related to electricity in 2018. During that same period, there were 310 recordable electrical injuries in the construction industry alone. These numbers only reinforce the need to refine, expand and enforce safety-related guidelines in the workforce, and the free checklist can help you do that.

The Backbone of Most Workplace Safety Programs: The Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s Key Standards and Controls


To ensure that they are compliant to … Read more...

Driving Progress through a Paradigm Shift: The Importance of a Strong Safety and Quality Culture to the Oil and Gas Sector

In the business world, the word progress is commonly associated with technological advancements, as well as developments in processes and procedures. There are additional drivers to progress and their significance can also have powerful results.

In the oil and gas sector, studies have shown that for companies to be successful in the long run, it’s critical for them to incorporate a strong culture of safety and quality.

How about we take a step back to understand the full picture?

The Traditional View of How Oil and Gas Companies Should Operate


While traditionalists will claim that an industry strongly based on scientific processes and technology don’t need to focus on employee-centered processes or procedures, their thinking has since been proven to be antiquated and potentially dangerous.

How so, you ask? Well, empirical research has proven that high-reliability organizations (HROs), which by nature, have a labor-heavy component to their operations, have shown … Read more...

Driving Agility through Cloud-Based Microlearning, Bulletins and Best Practices in Digital Learning

With so much for people managers and corporate trainers to factor in when developing their post-pandemic Return-to-Work initiatives, organizations are turning to resourceful teaching approaches to ensure that employees are provided with the right training to be successful. In parallel, companies are also leveraging effective communications techniques to ensure their workers remain connected – both to their managers as well as to each other. While this is taking place, leaders continue to put their strategic focus on business continuity.

Impossible? We think not. Feasible? With the right tools and techniques – very much so.

Redefining Training to Drive Agility


At the highest level, what has become clear is that not only do the techniques, tools and processes we introduce have to work well in today’s climate, equally as importantly, they have to help workers become agile to adapt to future changes. Decision makers are now realizing that this idea, which … Read more...

Intelex’s Software Set + the SAFER Framework = A Robust 360° Return-to-Work Solution

With the quarantine phase of the COVID-19 outbreak reaching an end in many areas, organizations have started planning their return-to-work initiatives, with some having already launched them.

Let’s look ahead – not to just the immediate “return” phase, but the phase after that- what we’ve defined as the “reimagine” phase.

Our Return to Work Initiative: Respond, Return and Reimagine


When developing our return-to-work program, we decided the best approach would be a phased one. Similar to the concept of continuous deployment, breaking down the plan to allow individuals to quickly process, adapt, and execute practices and procedures makes it more manageable for employers and employees alike.

To summarize each phase and their objectives:

  1. Respond: involves the immediate steps taken during the initial outbreak
  2. Return: introduces short-term changes implemented to address all the newly discovered issues
  3. Reimagine: implements long-terms policies, procedures and best practices to create an agile and resilient workforce
Read more...

Don’t Let Slips and Falls on Walking Working Surfaces Bring You Down

Ice and snow, oily surfaces, slick floors, and trip hazards not only can cause slips and falls that injure employees, they can kill employees.

We’ve all taken a fall on ice or a slippery surface. Hopefully, the only thing that got bruised was our ego. That’s not always the case; emergency rooms fill with people suffering from fall injuries that occur on walking and working surfaces when water, oil, ice, and snow make walking surfaces slippery.

Workers are not immune to same-surface slips and falls, and OSHA recognized this fact. That’s why OSHA issued a final rule on Walking-Working Surfaces and Personal Fall Protection Systems. The goal of the rule is to better protect workers in general industry from these hazards by updating and clarifying standards and adding training and inspection requirements.

What’s in the Walking-Working Surfaces Standard?

The rule, which became effective in January 2017, incorporates advances in technology, … Read more...