In Case You Missed It: Week One of VelocityEHS Open Table Conference

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VelocityEHS recently hosted the first gathering of our ongoing Open Table Conference (OTC). During this three-part conference series, we're bringing our customers, partners and VelocityEHS subject matter experts together to discuss trending EHS topics, best practices and innovative technologies to help support our fellow EHS professionals during this critical and challenging time.

In case you missed it, here’s a recap of what happened during our Thursday, November 5 event.

COVID-19 Regulatory Panel: Where Are We Now?

This session featured a panel of leading EHS regulatory experts including Pam Walaski of Specialty Technical Consultants (STC), Elaine Ye of Enhesa, and Tony Casaletta from Douglas W. Crim, PLC, who all offered valuable insights on changes to EHS regulations during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Pam Walaski, STC

Pam Walaski pointed to a concerning trend she’s witnessed of EHS professionals being laid off during the pandemic, which has of course added to the challenges companies face in meeting their regulatory obligations in this changing landscape. She also stated that more organizations are emphasizing the importance of psychological safety, since safety is not just about preventing injuries and ill health, but about promoting mental well-being. Walaski noted that the International Organization for Standardization is currently developing a draft standard, ISO 45003, addressing psychological safety at work and practices for managing psychosocial risks. A vote on the draft is expected in December, after which time it will be open for comments. While the draft standard will not be one organizations can certify to, it is intended to be used by companies who’ve certified their safety management system to ISO 45001 or followed it as best practice for identifying and controlling psychosocial risks in their workplace.

Tony Casaletta, Douglas W. Crim, PLC

Tony Casaletta discussed state regulatory actions on COVID-19, focusing on recent guidance and regulations issued by Michigan OSHA (MIOSHA). Casaletta recapped MIOSHA’s regulatory actions since the pandemic began, including the emergency rules it put into effect on October 14, 2020. These rules create obligations for employers in Michigan including requirements to create and maintain a COVID-19 preparedness and response plans, implement workplace controls to control the spread of COVID-19 and provide their workers with personal protective equipment (PPE) based on OSHA and CDC guidance. Casaletta noted that federal OSHA has to date issued a great deal of guidance on COVID-19, including industry-specific guidance, but has not yet issued an emergency standard.

Elaine Ye, Enhesa

Elaine Ye provided an overview of the global regulatory landscape with regard to COVID-19. She stated that some countries were imposing measures ranging from curfews (in Spain) or contact tracing (in Mexico City) to control transmission of COVID-19. Ye stated that there has been a recent trend toward more stringent requirements, citing one local government in India that is now requiring companies handling hazardous chemicals to submit self-compliance reports. Ye also stated that more companies are relying on remote audits to meet their internal auditing requirements, and we may begin seeing an increasing number of new global regulations intended to protect the safety of remote workers.

Panel Q & A

In the subsequent Q & A session, all three regulatory panelists took questions from attendees. A couple of take-homes from this part of the session included:

  • Employers in the US need to document their good-faith efforts to comply with OSHA requirements such as training and audiometric testing, and how the challenges of the pandemic may have prevented them from fully meeting these obligations according to regular schedules.
  • Work-from-home injuries may wind up being recordable under OSHA’s Recordkeeping Standard if the employee was doing work at the time of the injury.

Customer Spotlight - Eastman Chemical Company

Steven Addington, Manager of Global Health and Safety at Eastman Chemical Company, delivered a presentation called “Responding to COVID-19: A Comprehensive Approach.” He discussed the “layers of protection” approach Eastman has used, including rapid identification of cases, measures to prevent transmission and tasks to minimize impact to team members. Addington stated that two-way communication was critical to Eastman’s COVID-19 strategy, pointing to the need to keep everyone connected on new work procedures and expectations.

Addington also highlighted the important role that VelocityEHS software has played in Eastman’s COVID response. In particular, he said that the Safety Meetings solution has facilitated enhanced internal communication, and said that VelocityEHS Audit & Inspection software enabled them to create custom inspection checklists to ensure that policies, procedures and other COVID-19 protective measures were working properly.

Product Spotlight: Management of Change (MOC)

In a short presentation, Phil Molé, EHS & Sustainability Expert for VelocityEHS, highlighted the value of VelocityEHS' Management of Change (MOC) solution in adapting to rapidly changing requirements and EHS policies during the COVID-19 pandemic. Molé stated that keeping up with planned changes in the workplace can be challenging even under normal circumstance, and is made more difficult now because of tasks such as workplace decontamination, workshift rotations and physical distancing measures needed to protect workers against exposure to the SARS CoV-2 virus that causes COVID-19.

Molé demonstrated how VelocityEHS MOC solution keeps organizations agile by:

  • Making workflows easier to manage
  • Allowing users to track and document approvals through a detailed audit trail
  • Notifying stakeholders of tasks that are coming die or overdue
  • Providing detailed visibility of change processes via the system dashboard

He concluded by reminding attendees that a consistent theme of the day’s talks was the need to stay agile, and be prepared to keep up with the pace of change. MOC gives users the ability to do that, especially when combined with other functionality of the VelocityEHS platform, such as our Corrective Action solution.

Watch the on-demand recording and download the session Q&A.