The Problem of Safety Management
We started VIT Initiative with the simple, albeit ambitious, goal of eliminating back injuries in the workplace. We saw a huge dissonance between the quantity and impact of back injuries in the workplace and the work being done to prevent them. Particularly in industrial settings, we saw safety relegated to the background in order to focus on productivity and efficiency. So we decided to create products aimed at keeping workers safe. We wanted to take our expertise and experience in new technologies and bring them to a market and industry that needed innovation. Thus, Arc was born and we have seen great interest in its potential benefits.
However as we entered into warehouse and distribution centers, manufacturing plants and retail stores, we began to notice something else. We began to see the amount of hard work that goes into workforce safety and the people behind it. The struggle to design and implement safety initiatives and processes, make them stick, and ensure they are adopted when a typical response might be “you’re just making it harder to do my job” and when it can be a hassle trying to follow up on the tasks that need to get done.
As a result, we at VIT have adopted another goal: to reinvent safety management in the workplace. We see three main pathways to turn this goal into reality.
The New 3 Pillars of Safety Management
Most safety management methodologies were developed decades ago, but technology has since changed and tools available to conduct audits, manage workflow, and track employee safety have become more sophisticated. The management methods have not caught up to the technological advancements. There may be specific ways to tackle certain problems, and there may be certain things that must take place in any process from a compliance perspective, but the general process can vary wildly. This means missed steps and assignments, difficulty following up, and sometimes lack of responsibility.
That's not to say there haven't been attempts at reinventing how companies approach safety. Programs like Behavior-based Safety were all the rage, but often fell by the wayside as they failed to produce the necessary results. Some methods need a complete overhaul of company culture to be successful (and BBS seems to be one of them).
Safety needs to matter, it needs to be efficient, it needs to be transparent, and it needs to produce results. At VIT, we are working on designing or adapting new management methodologies for safety professionals to increase their department’s effectiveness and impact on their company.
Efficient and effective safety means knowing when problems arise, what to do about them, and quickly and confidently measuring the effectiveness of implemented solutions. In the past, companies have had to focus on lagging indicators such as injuries and worker's comp payouts for the past 6 months, past year, etc. New technology is leading to new insight into leading indicators that can greatly increase a manager's ability to identify and react to problems.
VIT is designing advanced safety metrics to shorten response time, track progress, quickly measure results and effectiveness, and increase learning about what works and what doesn’t.
New and novel technology is needed to tie the above two categories together. To move to new metrics, we need new ways to gather and track them. To enable compliance and adherence to methods, we need to make it as easy for employees to execute. This means embracing an investment in to safety departments to ensure they have the right tools to carry out their mission.
This new technology is finding its way into companies in the name of safety, usually falling into one of three categories.
- Data gathering
- PPE and Assistive equipment
The Road Ahead
We’re excited to officially launch the Arc Safety Platform in the coming weeks and expect that we will have our hands full in the near term. But in the background we plan to constantly be seeking out ways that we can tweak and change the art of safety management. Expect to see more posts about this in the future, as well as some new product announcements down the road!