Organisations face a new challenge as they seek to rebuild confidence among workers who may be less than eager to return to the workplace in the wake of this year’s pandemic.
The events of 2020 have highlighted the importance of trust between organisations and their workers. “Organisations are arguably under greater pressure than ever to ensure their workplaces are not a danger and that workers can safely return to the office. As South Africans return to work, organisations should seek new tools and approaches to keep workers safe, with a focus on deploying technology to improve the overall management of and response to any health crises.
While restrictions have lifted in most countries, many are experiencing a resurgence in infection numbers, prompting fears of a so-called second wave. In Europe especially, rising infection numbers have triggered new lockdown measures in the Paris, Madrid and the greater UK.
South Africa arguably had a slight advantage in terms of EHS readiness. Industries such as mining already had robust environment, health and safety standards and infrastructure in place. South Africa’s wide-ranging efforts at dealing with the HIV/AIDS pandemic in the 1990s and 2000s possibly played a role, as most labour-intensive industries would already have comprehensive EHS measures in place.
As industries reopen and workers return, organisations need to build confidence among workers that it is safe to return. Organisations should seek tools and policies that enable them to assess risks of COVID-19 infection and transmission in the workplace, and identify at-risk employees regardless of symptoms. Additional health surveillance protocols need to be established for testing, diagnosis and treatment.
Ensuring workplace safety
SAP Environment, Health and Safety Management is a technology solution that helps organisations proactively identify, analyse and mitigate environment, health and safety risks. The solution helps organisations operate safely and efficiently, with a focus on ensuring continuity.
EHS practitioners charged with ensuring workplace health and safety need to be supported with tools that enable them to quickly assess the dispersion and severity of infection risks in the workplace, and to immediately executive actions to mitigate such risks. This may include conducting testing programs, tracking infections, and maintaining effective communication channels to keep stakeholders updated to new developments.
Technology can support EHS efforts by COOs, Human Resources managers, risk management officers, sustainability officers and facilities managers by also integrating with other systems, such as procurement systems, to track inventory of personal protective equipment (PPE). This helps ensure a steady and available supply of PPE for all on-site workers.
Wide-ranging applications for rebuilding trust
In addition, with integration to HR and operational systems, the SAP Environment, Health and Safety Management solution gives decision-makers a holistic view over the entire organisation, which provides improved planning and higher EHS standards that can contribute to a safer, productive workplace.
The solution consists of applications ranging from Incident Management to Health and Safety and Occupational Health to support organisations with conducting initial COVID-19 risk assessments, identifying at-risk individuals, securing testing for such individuals, and supporting all necessary responses for when a positive diagnosis is made. It’s a solution that both helps prevent infections as well as manage any infections that occur. The ultimate goal is to give confidence to workers that their workplace is safe, building trust at a critical time.
Organisations can implement the SAP Environment Health and Safety solution in as little as eight weeks, with a full return on investment within less than six months. For more information, please visit https://www.sap.com/africa/products/ehs-management-health-safety.html
Stanley Dube is the Head of S/4HANA at SAP Africa.
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