Health, Safety, and Environment (HSE) software became prevalent in the 1990s as a direct response to major HSE events in the chemical industry. Since that time, both software and business processes have rapidly evolved to a point where collaborative, flexible, user-friendly tools that automate and unify compliance business processes are the gold standard. However, many companies are still managing HSE in disconnected, inflexible legacy systems, thereby placing employees, environment, and business at significant risk.
Veeva has been a partner to some of the most important players in the life sciences, pharma, chemical, consumer goods, and food & beverage industries since 2007. Through those partnerships, we have honed the concept of unified compliance by combining quality, regulatory, health, safety, and environment management systems in a single digital environment. In this article, we will share the main drivers and benefits of a unified HSE management software and which parts and steps you need to have and take when aiming at HSE unified compliance.
The 3 Main Drivers of Unified HSE Management Software
We start by talking about the main drivers of modern HSE management software. These are based on the exchanges we have had for the past years with hundreds of our customers operating in chemicals, consumer goods, and food & beverages.
1: Corporate Responsibility
The first driver we see is that HSE has been occupying a more central role in the modern business environment. Nowadays, it is a pretty common practice to place, for example, safety indicators on the first pages of the annual report of listed companies. This is because there is a consensus that organizations with better safety performance perform better on the operational and financial fronts, not to mention on the social front.
2: Universal Access
The second driver we notice is that organizations that perform better in terms of HSE have made it a responsibility of everyone, of all the stakeholders: from the C-suite to the shop floor workers, from their suppliers to their contractors. This represents a huge shift from the past approach to HSE, where a single department or even a single person, such as the HSE Director, were responsible for the entire performance of the organization.
3: Process Unification
The third driver of modern HSE management software that we observe is the trend to integrate them with other management systems, for example, Quality Management or Energy Management. There has been quite an effort by organizations such as ISO to design and publish standards for management systems that follow the same high-level structure. Companies are taking advantage of this fact to streamline their process maps and unify them as much as possible. For example, single management of change processes, supported by the same procedure and tool, can be compliant with both safety and quality requirements.
The 3 Main Benefits of Unified HSE Management Software
Picking up on the concept of unified compliance or, in other words, the opportunity for an organization to be compliant in different areas of requirements, such as safety or quality, using the same process, supported by the same procedure, and using the same tool. Let us take a moment to go over the benefits of unified compliance in the scope of HSE.
1: Increase HSE Performance
The first benefit we see is that it places the organization in a better position to improve its HSE performance. Unifying HSE allows for more visibility, more agility, and more transparency. More visibility because the HSE processes are now part of everyone’s workflows in the organization, independently of their function. More agility because whenever an HSE process must be used, it is linked to the business process that triggered it. For example, if I am conducting a change in a manufacturing unit, the safety review of that change will be part of the workflow of that change. More transparency because performance assessment, in the form of reports and dashboards, is now easier to execute, and it will not require a separate set of processes or tools.
2: Greater Participation
The second benefit we register is that unifying HSE with other management systems, such as Quality, allows the organization to involve everyone in the relevant processes by breaking down the silos between the HSE lead department and the other functions. Health, safety, and environment will no longer be a separate set of processes; instead, they will be embedded into each business process, from operations to management.
3: QHSE Synergies
The third benefit we observe is a consequence of the previous two: exploring the synergies between different management systems, through unification, allows the organization to save time – by going through fewer audit cycles – and to save cost – by running fewer support tools. For example, it is common for safety near-misses to also have the potential to produce quality non-conformance. By unifying both management systems, a company can capture the risk in both dimensions, safety, and quality, and act on preventing both with the same or a different set of actions.
3 Important Elements of Unified HSE Compliance Software
Moving to the more practical aspect of unified HSE compliance, we provide guidance on the three pieces that need to fall in place so companies can take the maximum benefit out of a digital tool supporting their management system:
- Implement a virtuous cycle of risk management or how you can foster a culture of safety in your organization based on prevention.
- Recognize the central role of people in your HSE management software or how better access to documentation and also better training can lead to more safety in the workplace.
- Learn the value of indicators and reports, or the “what, why & how” of measuring the performance of your HSE management software.
1: The Virtuous Cycle of Risk Management
Let's look at the role of risk management in modern HSE management software. We know that in order to increase our ability to prevent negative events of any kind, like safety or quality-related, it is crucial to apply a risk-based approach to management systems. However, risk management is often disconnected from the day-to-day events taking place in operations or in the business: either risks and events are handled by different teams or with different frequencies or in different tools. Unifying management of risks and management of events allows the organization to build a bridge between reaction and prevention.*
2: Unified HSE and Training
How can we empower people to become more active participants in their HSE management software? There are two key aspects of the human factor in safety performance: information and training. It is very important that organizations that wish to improve engagement and mindset when it comes to safety provide their employees with easy access to information and to training. Digital tools are a great way to ensure that people can find the right documents and be trained the right way across the organization.**
3: Data-Driven Performance
Regarding performance management applied to HSE, there are several metrics that organizations can use to monitor, control, and improve their safety performance. However, we have noticed that the organizations that display better performance usually choose to embed a mix of leading and lagging indicators in their core processes. This allows them to assess their own performance with a very low effort by making use of regular and standard reports. They also ensure that their management can respond to extraordinary requests for data, for example during surprise audits, so it’s important to be able to count with dashboards that are dynamic and that can be customized.***
How to Achieve Unified HSE Compliance
Leveraging modern digital tools while exploring more efficient ways of running your multiple management systems can seem overwhelming. Based on hundreds of successful digital transformation projects in the field of extended compliance (Quality, HSE, and Regulatory), we have defined an action-based approach to achieve unification in a sustainable way.
1: Define Performance Metrics
The first step is to define which metrics you need in order to monitor and control your HSE performance. This will guide you in terms of understanding which of the areas we have explored during this webinar represent the highest opportunity or priority for improvement.
2: Lower the Barriers to Participation
The second step is to create simple and effective ways for people to participate in HSE processes. Documents that are hard to find, training that is hard to understand, and multiple tools which are hard to use will not allow employees to be fully engaged and committed when it comes to safety. Solving challenges like these is the core principle of unified HSE compliance.
3: Provide a Single Source of Truth
The third step is to select and operate a single tool that serves multiple management systems. Besides the benefits we have already mentioned, a single source of truth, a unified system that serves both quality and safety, for example, represents a lower total cost of ownership and a much lower change effort for the organization while ensuring the highest levels of compliance.
Ready to Modernize HSE in Your Organization? How to Get Started
A strong HSE culture engenders trust and engagement and delivers better business outcomes but requires universal participation, commitment, and transparency. Good HSE intentions are often hamstrung by outdated, disparate management systems unfit for the modern workplace that demand real-time, local engagement from teams and data-driven global insights. Such systems are often inadequate for the requirements of today's fast-moving business environment, resulting in blind spots that many companies are completely unaware of until it is too late.
Powerful, flexible, user-friendly, and intuitive digital HSE solutions empower the organization from the factory floor to the boardroom enabling a shift from reactive to proactive HSE.
Veeva’s HSE Management Suite unifies, streamlines, and harmonizes processes across HSE and quality. From incident reporting, audits and risk assessments, corrective and preventive action management, to documentation and training, and more, everything is unified and integrated in a single system of record.
Contact us to learn more about how we can help modernize HSE in your organization.
* “The number of preventable work deaths in the US totaled 4,113 in 2020. The preventable injury death rate was 3.0 per 100,000 workers.” Source
** “Employees who were offered safety training were over 25% more likely to say they know what to do in an emergency at work.” Source
*** “Metrics that consider employee safety include TRIR (total recordable incident rate), DART (Days away/restricted or Transfer Rate), OSHA metrics and deaths-per-year.” Source