COVID Underscores the Value of Organizational Health and Safety

Originally published in Fleet Management Weekly 2/8/2021

By Teri Snow, CSP, CEO of Snow Advisory, LLC and eDriving’s EHS&S “Guru”

Occupational health and safety has come a long way. There once was a time when workplaces did not have any sanitation standards. Now, we not only regulate unseen toxins but we are also better prepared to fight unseen hazards to our health like COVID-19.

Workplace safety has evolved and will continue to evolve over time. As many businesses struggle to keep up with the ever-changing requirements to protect against the pandemic there is also a need to maintain focus on addressing the organization’s Health and Safety Compliance Obligations.

Although these responsibilities are a challenge to sustain, it is critical that we leverage the relationships with senior leaders who are listening more than ever to the important guidance we as health and safety professionals are providing.

Ever heard the term “Never Let a Good Crisis go to Waste”? Well, now is the time to harness the energy and attention of senior leaders to ensure that a continued focus on H&S becomes engrained in the fabric of the organization. This is accomplished by teaching them how important their words and actions are, and continually engaging them in the process.

Within the pillars of a safety culture the actions of a leader are key to setting the organizational tone for safety. Just look at how valuable leader communications have been to your organization during this past year. Most leaders are communicating more frequently about the importance of staying healthy and safe, while providing tangible actions that individuals can take to protect themselves and their families. Improving communication strategies not only helps ensure employees have the correct information, but it also goes a long way toward keeping workers engaged and allowing them to be a part of the solution. Although this is playing out during a pandemic, the importance of leader actions at all times plays a significant role in all areas of health and safety (including driver risk management).

According to a recent study published by the National Safety Council (NSC), organizational communications have changed drastically. The changes are centered around adjusting to virtual platforms, along with changing the frequency and cadence and consistency of how critical safety information is disseminated– especially as it relates to the pandemic.

More mature safety organizations were able to integrate COVID-19 more seamlessly into their risk assessment and mitigation processes because they already knew how to deal with risk and could add necessary controls and change their operations to deal with new risk. According to NSC, over 50 percent of those surveyed indicated an increase in “top-down” health and safety focus, with an almost 20 percent increase in leadership buy-in.

Sound familiar? It’s classic Safety Culture 101! It is also about risk reduction and organizational effectiveness. Remarkably similar to a driver safety program benefits from key leader and employee engagement initiatives to help it achieve Best in Class; a program that is embraced by senior leaders at all levels of the organization, where employees in a variety of functions are included in design, development, and evergreen improvements.

Safety on the road depends not just on individual behavior but more importantly on the actions and controls put in place by an organization to ensure that risk is eliminated or minimized. Organizations are required, by law, to manage the risks associated with driving for work, and that is why it is so beneficial to have systems in place that ensure driving for work activities are aligned with wider safety requirements and that senior leaders are visibly demonstrating their commitment to the health and safety of everyone.

Clearly, there is a lot of responsibility in sustaining such programs. Therefore, it is easy to conclude that driver safety programs deserve more attention and are developed in a way that enables them to evolve into a Best-in-Class program that is aligned with the greater EHS&S framework.

A year ago, the average person may not have known the meaning of the acronym “PPE.” Now, Personal Protective Equipment is a household staple, and the importance of the safety and health function in the workplace is valued more than ever; and indeed expected more than ever. Safety is becoming a preventative operational norm and will remain at the forefront of business leaders’ minds for a long time to come.

About Teri Snow
eDriving’s EHS&S Advisor Teri Snow, CSP, is an independent Health and Safety Advisor at Snow Advisory, LLC with over 32 years of practical experience with multifaceted complex Health and Safety regulations at various levels of manufacturing industries as an EHS Leader both at a Site and Global level.

eDrivingSM helps organizations to reduce collisions, injuries, license violations and total cost of fleet ownership through a patented driver risk management program.

Mentor by eDriving is a smartphone-based solution that collects and analyzes driver behaviors most predictive of crash risk and helps remediate risky behavior by providing engaging, interactive micro training modules delivered directly to the driver in the smartphone app. As part of a broader risk management platform, Virtual Risk Manager®, eDriving provides organizations with everything they need to establish safety as a strategic imperative, and support drivers and managers as they strive to create a crash-free culture®.

eDriving is the digital driver risk management partner of choice for many of the world’s largest organizations, supporting over 1,000,000 drivers in 96 countries. Over the past 25 years, eDriving’s research-validated programs have been recognized with over 100 awards around the world.

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