Canadian Occupational Safety

November/December 2020

Canadian Occupational Safety (COS) magazine is the premier workplace health and safety publication in Canada. We cover a wide range of topics ranging from office to heavy industry, and from general safety management to specific workplace hazards.

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Page 27 of 31

28 F E A T U R E "COVID-19 has triggered a fundamental and, I believe, irreversible reordering of the workplace. Whenever the pandemic comes under control, I don't think we'll see businesses revert to the 'old way' of doing things." Sean Baldry, Cority Analytics particular is an example of that. There is an increased desire from employees for a touchless travel experience to ease their health and safety concerns. From bookings to luggage drop-offs, employees want to minimize contact. This can easily be achieved with technology already in our hands — mobile phones." [SB] "COVID-19 has certainly shifted perspectives on workplace health and safety in ways, and at rates we hadn't anticipated even a few short months ago. Interestingly, many organizations are seeing, perhaps for the first time, a real tangible connection between their ability to manage risk and their long-term viability. "And we've noticed that this new perspective has certainly shifted organizational behaviour with respect to technology investment. We've seen growing interest and investment from organizations, across industry sectors, in technology to support pandemic management and business continuity. Specifically, interest in technology to support returning furloughed employees to work has really driven the environmental, health, safety and quality (EHSQ) management software market over the past few months and likely disrupted prior product development plans of many EHSQ software vendors." [AB] "I think the other side of it is the adoption rates of tech are improving because most organizations need to find consistent ways of rolling out processes and systems and initiatives in their company in a way that they couldn't before. A lot of folks in many industries have to be on the same page, and they don't have the advantage of being physically together all the time. It's forcing the organization to drive consistency in what they're doing. And that usually means higher adoption or high adoption rates of technologies. And, sometimes, there's just new problems to solve. In today's environment, with the pandemic, we're working in those new problems." [COS] How could the OHS sector benefit from better tech solutions? COMPUTER TECH AND THE WORKPLACE Source: Environics Institute, 2020 Survey on Employment and Skills [SB] "COVID-19 has triggered a fundamental and, I believe, irreversible reordering of the workplace. Whenever the pandemic comes under control, I don't think we'll see businesses revert to the 'old way' of doing things. COVID-19 has, in many ways, revealed weaknesses in business continuity planning in many organizations and has thrust the idea of organizational resilience to the forefront. To that end, businesses are and will remain open to how technology could help them create more resilient processes that will be able to flex under the strain of another large-scale crisis, without resulting in significant damage from which they won't be able to recover." [AB] "There's always going to be innovations in technology. Historically, larger organizations had more of the financial wherewithal and management to experiment and try out technology and roll it out. That could be hardware technology, for example. Smaller companies would historically have a more difficult time. They couldn't take the risk because they didn't have the financial wherewithal for it or they just didn't have the people and the time and attention to try something new. "Whereas now, I think a lot of smaller and medium-sized organizations are able to adopt and experiment with emerging tech in a way that was very different than before. And I think that it's probably because there's more tech that's more accessible to most organizations of different sizes than there was before. It's not just for the big companies. It's democratizing the technology a little bit more; it's giving some of the small and medium- sized companies a little bit of an edge if they do want to adopt it, if they do turn it into to a competitive advantage. So, I think that's a very, very good trend for most businesses out there, especially in hazardous industries or high-risk industries." [RH] "I think we are seeing more adoption of new technology, such as smarter ways of communicating. We have an offering of smart hearing products where you can filter out noise and communicate more effectively. These types of solutions are going to become even more prevalent. The other thing is, as we're getting back to work or getting back to school or getting back to public spaces, having the right solutions is going to allow us to be productive again as an economy, as a workforce and as a society. "We do see more and more key technology — what we would call smart technology: remote monitoring or the ability to fit test. I think that's going to appeal a lot more to safety managers than it ever has before in the new normal. I do see technology being adopted and used more intelligently; it's really around managing risk and operational effectiveness in the new normal." [VD] "Canadians increasingly want to be able to work from anywhere, which requires companies to adopt better technology to enable a digital workforce. Health and safety are at the forefront of everyone's minds, and companies face more pressure than ever to ensure the safety of their employees. "When it comes to travel, tech innovations can make it easier for leaders and HR teams to keep travelling employees safe. Duty of care is one of the most important drivers of travel policy changes. It's imperative that businesses implement and enforce policies that ensure traveller safety, health and security. Digital tools enable companies to quickly locate and communicate with employees in the event of an emergency no matter where they are or how they booked their travel — even when travel plans change." [SB] "With many businesses having shifted successfully to remote working arrangement and 'virtual' workplaces, technology will play a greater role in maintaining connections between remote workers to sustain morale and overcome feelings of social isolation. And there will continue to be growing interest in the years ahead for technology options to drive employee engagement. The shift toward more virtual workplaces will also shift the common risk profiles of many businesses in the coming years. "The pandemic has certainly raised our social consciousness on mental Two-thirds of working Canadians say that computer tech has changed the way they do their jobs, mostly in a positive way. Most Canadians report that computer tech has made jobs easier and even more enjoyable. Three in 10 Canadians say that technology has made them better paid and more secure. Men are more likely than women to report higher income and job security as a result of new technology.

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