PS: Why should a company have a safety management system?
Bill: The simple answer is that it makes managing training, safety and compliance easier for the company and helps reinforce a culture of safety across the entire business. Leadership certainly plays a critical role in establishing a strong safety culture, but we believe software systems play an equally important role in sustaining culture. There is a huge value proposition here for companies and, by extension, their employees. A safety management system automates office processes, reduces injuries and all of the costs associated with them, streamlines training and much more.
PS: What do you see as the next big safety development?
Bill: Progress today is somewhat stymied by traditional organizational structures that don’t support collaboration by key functions in the safety and health value chain. The next big development in safety will come when new organizational designs are introduced that allow these sometimes disparate areas to collaborate and integrate more frequently and at a fundamental level.
As this happens, and the traditional corporate silos are broken down, we will begin to see huge gains in employee health protection and promotion. First, businesses will be able to better track and address safety issues in order to prevent more injuries. Second, businesses will be able to advance their safety efforts and install initiatives that improve the health of employees overall, which gives them a better quality of life and saves everyone money.
The next decade in occupational health will bring a tremendous amount of change and progress. People and businesses will realize that safety and health are not about just checking compliance boxes, but rather are about helping individuals. Individuals’ safety and health provide fertile ground for business development, which ultimately allows more people to be helped.
There will be added pressure to maintain proper healthcare and safety throughout the entire supply chain and everything else that feeds into a business. Once these items are addressed, I hope more focus is put on the sustainability of operations—making sure that the employee environment keeps them healthy and on the job for the long term.
PS: How has the company’s mission toward improving workplace safety and health evolved since UL and PureSafety joined forces?
Bill: The core mission hasn’t changed but the combination of both companies has proven remarkable. Since PureSafety was founded, it has provided safety and health software solutions for employers to protect worker wellness and ensure that all regulations are met, while driving significant safety and business improvements. UL’s wide array of services looks to accomplish the same goals for the general public. Our collaboration has led everyone to be safer—from the user to the factory floor worker. It has been an incredibly effective and powerful fit.
PS: UL’s Learning and Safety Management System (LSMS) allows companies to take specific incidents and turn them into custom training. Can you explain how this works?
Bill: One of the best ways people learn is through storytelling. It is much easier to follow a lesson and retain the information when relatable people and situations are involved rather than a list of dos and don’ts or figures and statistics. Through our LSMS, companies can log incidents, near misses and even observations of potential hazards—as they would already do for safety reporting—then turn those examples into training content specific to that particular workplace. More importantly, this content can be deployed as a corrective action following an event and can also be used to supplement standard training modules to stop recurrences and manage risky points in operations.
The added benefit of this process is that a company is essentially cataloging the experiences and knowledge of its veteran employees. When those employees move on or retire, the lessons they learned are passed on to those who replace them.
Bill Grana is vice president, workplace health and safety, for UL. Prior to this, he was chair and CFO for Zoaport Inc., an animal health start-up, and senior vice president of acquisitions for Internet solutions provider iXL Inc. Bill is on the board of directors of Qualifacts, an electronic clinic record and billing software provider for the behavioral health market, and serves as the development committee chair on the board of the Tennessee Chapter of the Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis Association. He holds a J.D. and an M.B.A. from Washington University and a B.A. from University of Virginia.