Better EHS risk management means higher profits

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If there is one thing 2020 has shown us, it is that agility is increasingly important to business survival. To be truly agile you need to place risk management at the centre of your overall business strategy.

Effective environmental, health and safety (EHS) risk management is as critical to a company’s survival as taking charge of strategic risks.

“Simply put, if you manage EHS risk well, you will be more profitable,” says IsoMetrix Executive Director Paul Marketos.

Effective risk management improves profitability by increasing efficiency, reducing unexpected costs, and protecting reputation. These, together, boost profitability and the more profitable a business is, the more confidence investors have in it. It’s a simple, highly advantageous equation that bolsters business success.

Trend towards a risk-centric approach

It’s also the way the world is moving, precisely because when the threats inherent in any action or operation are explored before execution, precautions can be taken. You and your staff can concentrate on your core operations without having your attention drawn away towards dealing with crises.

Wide-reaching disasters, such as the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico and the 2019 Brumadinho dam disaster in Brazil, often spark new EHS rules. Rules created to avoid loss of life can also generate investor value and help preserve local economies.

Industry regulation bodies have realised that the best way to mitigate risks is to adopt a management approach that puts risk front and centre when operations are planned, so that threats are anticipated, and steps are taken to avoid them.

That, says Paul, is exactly what the mining sector is moving towards: operating in a way that makes anticipating EHS risks a central concern.

His words are underscored by the American Society of Safety Engineers Risk Assessment Institute, which says: “The time has come for a transformation of safety leadership through proactive, preventive approaches that can identify risks and enable action in advance of injury, illness, or loss.”

This ‘risk-centric approach’ to EHS management is also being driven by umbrella organisations like the International Council on Mining and Metals and the International Organization for Standardization (ISO).

An added bonus is that through a risk-centric approach to EHS risk management, you will meet all the requirements of complying with rules sets such as those found in the United States’ Sarbanes-Oxley Act, Canada’s Bill 198 (CSOX) and South Africa’s King IV Report, says Paul.

But adopting a risk-centric approach to management is easier said than done. Businesses as complex as mining operations are high risk, and each risk is multifaceted.

That’s where technology comes in. It can help you to manage many risks at once, and to keep tabs on the way various risks are connected to each other.

IsoMetrix’s integrated risk management software uses Golden ThreadsTM to associate risk data across the breadth of the software platform’s solutions. These proprietary Golden Threads make the interrelated nature of risk visible, allowing customers to continuously improve processes, reducing risk to staff and to the business.

How to pick the best technology solution for your company

To get the best out of the technology you choose, first establish what you want to do and why you want to do it. What are the outcomes you are after, in terms of risk mitigation, reporting, early warning systems, data efficiencies and workforce enablement.

Once that is done, you can map your company’s existing processes and technology solutions. This will help you decide whether the technology you are using is fit for purpose, says IsoMetrix’s Reinhardt Haywood, Senior Manager of Product Development.

When you know what you want your chosen technology to do, you can look for technology solutions that match your requirements and develop a phased roll-out plan, build a formal business case and sell your vision to staff.

This last step is critical, says Reinhardt. “Change management and training is one of the most challenging parts of adopting new technological solutions. If people are keen to be trained, it can be quick, but if not, it can take a very long time.”

Staff who understand the business case for a switch to new technology, and especially how it relates to them, are generally more keen on adopting it than those who don’t.

The business world is increasingly complex. Businesses, especially in high-risk sectors, face more and greater threats to their sustainability, while also facing moral and governance pressure to reduce their negative environmental impact. Technology can help, and good business is better for the triple bottom line: people, planet and profit.