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EH&S Professionals Discuss Workplace Safety Trends

7/1/24

Interviews for this video were conducted with Grainger customers in February 2024. The transcript is below.

[Voiceover]: Industry professionals in environmental health and safety shared insights on trends they're seeing in their field during the 2024 Grainger Show in Orlando, Florida.

[Paul Leonard, vice president of Enterprise Safety, Entergy]: I think, across the industry, we're seeing a lot on human performance issues, and that's, how does the brain work? Why are people making decisions that they're making? And I think that's a fascinating field and something that we've really gotta look into going forward. I think that's one of the things that could change how we do safety and how we can adapt people's performance to the work they have to do.

[Gary Yurt, owner/president, Industrial Safety and Training Services]: I think it's work demand. I think all the industries that I've focused on have such a high demand for producing their product. I don't care if it's energy, distilled beverages, major manufacturing—just the demand that they're trying to deliver. And one of the things that I recognize is, is they don't have a lot of time to do what I call their initial safety orientation.

They hire an employee, probably need to spend 24 hours with them over the course of their introductory period to focus on those key safety training issues. They're hiring people and they're starting 'em the next day, and not really putting the effort, I believe, in where they need to as far as safety orientation.

[Jonathan Smith, director of Environmental Occupational Health and Safety and Training, Olli Salumeria Americana]: The evolution of EAOHS is going to be integrating more and more technology throughout the years. It's gonna be a building block and a real synergistic model between people and computers and machinery. In the next couple years, we're gonna focus more on ergonomics and workplace fatigue. That's where we're really moving as a industry.

[Sarah Ischer, senior program manager for the MSD Solutions Lab, National Safety Council]: Musculoskeletal disorder prevention: We can actually use AI tools and models to help the EHS professional on site understand their risks through computer vision, collect big data, and understand what their metrics look like, get into that predictive model of understanding if an injury could occur and where it could occur. So I think that you can use these types of technologies to understand what's happening in the workplace, so that way, the health and safety professional can focus on those higher-priority projects where they really need to be.

[Mark Ard, regional EH&S manager for Refresco US Beverages]: Focus on environmental, we focus on safety, the health aspect of it is super interesting. What we call medical surveillance programs is worlds apart of what it can be to be able to work with employees and ensure that they're taken care of while they're with us, while they're at work. If you tell an employee, "You work eight hours, 12 hours, and then go home and all of your medical issues are your issues to deal with," we gotta grow past that, right? So I really would like to see the H aspect of it come to light from regulatory capacity for focus groups, for ANSI, for ASSP, all of these organizations that put a ton of effort and resource, let's do better on what we call medical surveillance for employees.

[Scott Cormier, vice president of Emergency Management Environment of Care and Safety, Medxcel]: What my team is working on now is, how do you do emergency management in a renewable energy world? If you remember a few months ago, there was a huge polar vortex that swept the nation. And there was a great news article about electric vehicles in Chicago that couldn't be charged because it was too cold. What would you do if you had a fleet of electric vehicles in Chicago and you relied on them to work? So we're looking at emergency management, not only from sustainability and resilience, but how do we continue our operations when we have these renewable energy sources, snow and volcanic ash or mud slides on your solar panels?

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The information contained in this article is intended for general information purposes only and is based on information available as of the initial date of publication. No representation is made that the information or references are complete or remain current. This article is not a substitute for review of current applicable government regulations, industry standards, or other standards specific to your business and/or activities and should not be construed as legal advice or opinion. Readers with specific questions should refer to the applicable standards or consult with an attorney.