Skills for the digital EHS era

digital EHS era

Leaders are at the forefront of change and innovation that facilitates a disruption that would allow organizations to remain standing and prosperous in times to come. From the safety, health and sustainability perspective – change demands cooperative attributes from organizational behaviour but also the leverage of automation and digitization.

While other sectors are fast moving to incorporate off-the-shelf AI and machine learning abilities into their mainstream operations; environment, health and safety still have a winding road to travel. Compliance can be ensured via automation but a uniform acceptance remains a key challenge.

However, the liberating spirit (or disabling in some instances) of automation and embracing ‘digital’ is that this form of change is here to stay. It is being unleashed in other sectors with great confidence and in many cases with resounding success. It is the human attitude that requires an update much before a software will prompt you for one.

Traits for survival and growth

Here is a quick reference skills guide that can serve as a field manual in the era of EHS digitization:

  • Understand EHS network complexity through inter-dependent, co-dependent and as a shared ecosystem in the first place.
  • Learn to reliably delegate, designate, assign and then aggregate the results from such digital functions.
  • Think and interpret data from the system based logic by understanding analytics as a tool rather than as an absolute quantity.
  • Treat automation with built-in contingencies to refine analytics.
  • De-bias and delimit by establishing good data handling practices and cleanup routine.
  • Improve automation through feedback, learnings and on-field demands of EHS.

It cannot be stressed enough that EHS is filled with practical and on-field implications and therefore the systems need to be trained and matured within these parameters. No automation platform in such a dynamic environment can be deemed as perfect from the start. What and how it learns to handle while in action goes on to define how it will behave for the times to come and that may test the overall integrity of EHS planning.

Workforce development and leadership

Remember that such traits and subjectivity may seem practical while we read about it but in reality, situational emergencies, quickly gravitate our opinions towards a bias.

To string it all together and respond to the challenges of automation – know your workforce and their abilities. Identify the leaders, the followers and the laggards who would require more than a nudge to align with the digital transformation.

Legacy systems, ideally, should be treated for the valuable data repository they are rather than as components integral to making the newer digital platforms work. Data is the only tangible item of integral value and not the physical systems that are mere containers.

The problem of having a new system running in parallel with a legacy system is not only about confusion but also about the sense of duplication it generates within the organization.

Moving forward with virtual progress

Value of data that digital platforms relate, compute, report and monitor need another crucial catalyst until we get a refined product – insights.

This catalyst is the in-house expertise of EHS managers and supervisors who are looking at raw data as it exists in the wild. It is a kind of awakening that they experience once they allow the vision of automation to match with on-field or plant activities.

Then each data stream and its value is ascertained by the software and implemented accordingly. However the actionable logic is deduced by the EHS personnel who are benefiting from receiving multi-parametric reports. Twisting and maneuvering on the path to compliance is a perpetual but a worthwhile challenge after all.

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