The Evolving Safety Leader Through the Application of Technology
As I start my 30th year as a Safety Leader, I reflect upon how serving others in safety through the development of standards, processes, tools, systems, and influence has changed and evolved over the years.
Early on I spent most of my energy using manual tools (i.e. books, maps, standard operation procedures, emergency response equipment, and other non digital processes) to serve the public in emergency response and rescue. I did not write my first e-mail until 1995 when I was lucky enough to be hired as a safety engineer.
During my early time serving as a safety leader, the evolution of cell phones, emergency response monitoring equipment (i.e. hazardous toxic and flammable gas interconnected monitors) and the application of other technology advances were becoming the norm. The way I have served work family members directly and indirectly has evolved since the early 2000’s. Technology advancements in the safety leadership space has allowed me to serve work family members across the globe.
COVID-19 pushed the application of paperless, digital, virtual meetings, and trusting safety leadership service to new heights because of a need to connect with work family members without being physically present. The application of and the use of virtual meeting platforms is one significant technical advancement that was accelerated for use per the recent pandemic. Each one of the below technology and digital advancement examples and others supports safety leadership in 2021:
• Using cell phones and tablets as mini computers – Being able to review procedure, complete analytical research, complete checklist, document activities, hold meetings, record videos, take pictures, and engage in group conversations are all part of a safety leader’s responsibilities.
• Using robots & drones – Applying robots and drones in place of work family members in hazardous or deadly situations (i.e. confined spaces) provides an engineering control to prevent exposure to present hazards https://www.worley.com/what-we-do/our-technology/digital-products/carol.
• Personal GPS monitors – The creation and use of personal global positioning system (GPS) monitors supports the location confirmation and safe movement of work family members that are working alone or in dangerous environments.
• Using Saltgrid (incident prediction tool) – Applying Saltgrid to projects, work families, and other group safety and health experiences helps to proactively focus energy and resources toward the prevention of incidents https://www.worley.com/what-we-do/our-technology/digital-products/saltgrid
• Using virtual meeting platforms – The global use of virtual meeting platforms took the necessary place of face to face meetings per the slow down and stop in some places in the world with human interaction. One virtual platform provider as an example went from supporting 10 million virtual meetings per month in 2019 to supporting 300 million virtual meetings per month in 2020. In fact, in Habanero’s “COVID-19 employee experience study” which included 7 organizations in the initial study in 2020 one of which was Worley, around 50% of respondents from Worley marked Teams as their most important internal tool, followed by a variety of other tools like VPN and wifi.
• Virtual site visits and “check-ins”– While unable to be physically present at projects and in offices, it was important for us to be socially connected so the use of virtual platforms at Worley extended to creating the safe space for people to connect for mental wellness check-ins and other.
The global use of the virtual meeting platform has been the most significant technology change for me and how I have served others during the COVID-19 pandemic and it will be part of how I serve in the future. The use of virtual meetings is my new way of engaging work family members around the world, engaging customers, and discussing real time personal safety issues because of the isolations, quarantines, and overall eliminated travel. On a personal level, the use of virtual meeting platforms made my work from home experience better allowing me to commit to more time spent with my family.
Learning how to feel and show the basic safety leadership behaviors comfortably on virtual meeting platforms is as important as displaying safety leadership in person. The challenge of not being there in person demands an even more focused safety leader otherwise the behaviors below will come through authentically:
• Developing trusting nurturing relationships,
• Being empathetic / sympathetic,
• Applying fair accountability,
• Addressing problems, and
• Recognizing positive actions based on the situation.
Being able to see work family members around the world and for them to see me brings a personal element of connection that cannot be achieved through a telephone call, text message, or e-mail. I am not only virtually meeting with work family members in controlled settings of offices, conference rooms, and labs, we / my company is using the virtual meeting technology to connect with our work family in the field through a face time approach so we can discuss real time situations, observe work being performed, and recognize what is going well where the work is actually performed.
The world is continuously changing in the digital and technology space and we are doing what we can to stay knowledgeable to enhance our service to others in safety leadership through new technologies and digital applications.