Author Archives: Dave Blanchard

It’s All in Your Mind

By definition, the responsibility of an EHS professional is to provide and maintain a workplace environment that is healthy and safe for all employees, as well as others who are on the premises. Keeping workers safe from physical harm from equipment, vehicles and even other employees is implied in that job description, but there’s a disturbing and growing trend that suggests sometimes the biggest threat to a worker is their own state of mind. Those who suffer from mental illness carry a stigma that for far too long has seen them treated as a minority, as somehow “less than normal,” whatever that means. In fact, the whole concept of “normal” needs to be reconsidered; according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than half of the population has been or will be diagnosed with a mental illness or disorder at some point in their lives. What’s more, in any given year 20% of Americans will experience a mental illness. So if anything, mental illness is the norm rather than the exception. All the more reason, than, for EHS professionals to be more proactive in addressing the impact of mental illness on the workplace. Some have estimated that mental illness costs the U.S. economy $200 billion and the worldwide economy roughly $1 trillion in lost productivity. Measuring the costs in terms of the damage mental illness can inflict on those who suffer from it, their families and their co-workers is incalculable. And in far too many cases, the result can lead to suicide. “Increasing suicide rates in the U.S. are a concerning trend that represent a tragedy for families and communities and impact the American workforce,” says Deb Houry, director of the CDC’s National Center for Injury Prevention and Control. “Knowing who is at greater risk for suicide can help save lives through focused prevention efforts.” Based on the CDC’s research, the jobs most at risk for suicides by males are in construction and mining, while for females the most at-risk jobs are in the arts, design, entertainment, sports and media categories. But as a Reuters report points out, while the CDC can identify the occupations most at risk for suicide, there’s no clear understanding as of yet as to what workplace characteristics might contribute to suicide. “Despite mental health being something that more and more people are talking about, far too many people are still suffering,” points out Paul Gionfriddo, president and CEO of Mental Health America. “People are simply not receiving the treatment they need to live healthy and productive lives, and too many don’t see a way out.” For the past 70 years, May has been designated as Mental Health Month. Take this opportunity to familiarize yourself with your company’s employee assistance programs and workplace wellness programs. There are numerous apps available, packaged with various wearable devices, that can monitor stress, heart rate, mood disorders and other early-warning signs of severe depression and suicidal ideation. And make sure your employees are aware of the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: (800) 273-TALK. “We must continue to improve access to care and treatments, and we need to put a premium on early identification and early intervention for everyone with mental health concerns,” urges Gionfriddo. “We must address these mental health concerns before crisis and tragedy strikes.” 1. Productive atmosphere. That means the facility is clean and well maintained; that employees feel respected and appreciated; and that intimidation, bullying and harassment are not tolerated. 2. Pay employees a livable wage. 3. Reasonable accommodation. That includes provisions for physical and mental disabilities, which could mean changes to the work space or schedule, or using technologically-adapted equipment. 4. Provide a comprehensive health insurance plan. Such a plan should include smoking-cessation, weight-loss, and substance abuse programs. 5. Open and transparent communication. 6. Employee accountability. Employees must be willing to support each other as well as management. 7. Management accountability. Employees should be encouraged and allowed to provide work-related feedback to their supervisors (anonymously if necessary). 8. Offer opportunities for a work/life balance. That includes thing like flexible schedules and telecommuting (if applicable). 9. Emphasize clear and positive values. Everybody inside and outside the company should know what your organization stands for. 10. Fitness. Encourage employees to be physically active and stay fit. If possible, incentivize employees to join a gym or take fitness classes.—Mental Health America Let's block ads! (Why?)

Top 10 Most Dangerous Jobs of 2019

Our annual look at the most dangerous occupations in the U.S., as measured by fatal work injury rate. Time to take a look at the updated list of the most dangerous occupations in the United States, based on data compiled by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Now, there are two different ways to answer the question of “What’s the most dangerous job?” By total number of fatalities. By fatal work injury rate. Going by sheer number of on-the-job deaths, truck drivers and sales drivers was by far the most dangerous, accounting for nearly 1,000 (987) deaths in 2017. However, there are also a lot more truck drivers than some of the other occupations, and the BLS data breaks it down to identify the overall danger factor of a job. The fatal work injury rate is calculated per 100,000 full-time equivalent workers. As a result, there are other occupations on the list with a higher percentage of its workers suffering fatal injuries than drivers (which ended up farther down the list, though certainly still in the Top 10). The biggest difference between last year’s ranking and this year’s is there’s a new occupation at the top of the list, displacing logging workers (which is still very high on the list). Also, supervisors of construction workers (which ranked at #9 last year), fell off the list completely, to be supplanted by electrical powerline installers and repairers. The good news out of the BLS report is that the total number of fatal work injuries in the U.S. in 2017 was down slightly from 2016: 5,147 vs 5,190. That’s less than even a 1% drop (0.82%, to be exact), but it does represent an improvement, and given the increase number of people working in 2017 vs. 2016, perhaps the improvement is a bit more significant that it seems. Still, there’s no doubt that a lot of work still needs to be done to make our jobs and industries safer. This slideshow offers a look at the 10 most dangerous occupations, according to fatal work injury rate. Let's block ads! (Why?)

A Smarter Way to Safety

Companies have long turned to technology to drive their productivity, but the dirty-little-secret nobody likes to talk about is that worker safety often takes a back seat to productivity. That trade-off, fortunately, may soon be a thing of the past thanks to a new breed of safety tech. With the emergence of such technologies as robotics, augmented reality, wearable devices and predictive analytics, organizations are discovering that it’s not only possible but preferable to adopt digital technologies that enhance the safety of the workplace. Some are calling this movement Safety 4.0, a spin-off of Industry 4.0 (aka the Internet of Things). The IoT’s proponents have focused largely on connected devices that can monitor and communicate diagnostic data throughout an entire network, a boon for predictive maintenance on all types of computerized devices, from production machinery to hospital equipment to transportation vehicles. Taking that concept into the safety arena, though, shifts the focus from the machine to the worker. And the possibilities for improving employee safety are limited only by the imagination. Consumer devices such as activity trackers and smart watches are already helping people count their steps each day, or monitor their heart rate, or let them know how well they slept the previous night. Companies have started to catch on that the quickest way to get their employees’ buy-in on new workplace technologies is to offer them equipment that is familiar and user-friendly. And if these safety tools can be fashionable as well, so much the better. For instance, why should only motorcyclists get to wear stylishly cool helmets? Thanks to the integration of sensors, cameras and augmented reality, construction workers could someday soon wear helmets that can let them know they’re entering unsafe areas, access building blueprints, or alert them when they are exposed to hazardous gases. Consider the value of robots and drones, particularly when it comes to deploying them for tasks too dangerous for workers, whether it be in environments toxic to humans or the overhead inspection of crumbling infrastructure. In fact, though it sounds a bit like “RoboCop”-type science fiction, technology is making it possible for humans to become, in a sense, robot-like through the adoption of exoskeletons that relieve the stress on their bones and muscles while allowing them to perform heavy lifting without overexertion. AI-based predictive analytics could make it possible for companies to predict the likelihood of workplace accidents. Autonomous trucks could lessen the likelihood of a human driver getting drowsy behind the wheel. Lone worker devices can alert a supervisor when an employee falls or blacks out. EHS Today, in partnership with Cority, recently conducted a 2019 “EHS Trends in Technology Survey,” which you’ll be hearing a lot more about throughout the year. One trend I found particularly intriguing was that 25% of respondents (all EHS Today subscribers) say they are currently using robots in safety procedures, and another 21% expect to be doing so within the next five years if not sooner. It gets me to wondering if we’re seeing the beginning of a seismic shift that will leave the workplace much, much safer… but perhaps a lot lonelier, too since the ultimate way to protect human employees is to not have any. Certainly, no company is suggesting or even hinting at automating humans out of the workforce altogether, but you can understand how the thought might be tempting. Companies are spending $1 billion every week on workers’ compensation, according to the Workplace Safety Index compiled by Liberty Mutual Insurance, primarily medical and lost-wage payments. While robots do need to be maintained, they have yet to complain about lost wages when they’re in the shop. Clearly, there are many, many tasks that robots aren’t suited for and may never be able to accomplish, at least not in our lifetimes. The real secret that needs to be talked about a lot more often is how technology—not just robots, but the whole plethora of wearables, enhanced PPE and predictive analytics software are making the workplace much safer for employees, At the end of the workday, thanks to the adoption of these technologies, employees will have a higher likelihood of going home safely. Let's block ads! (Why?)

EBook: Risk Management: A Survival Guide for Today’s Safety Leaders

When you think about it, safety leaders have two main responsibilities in their jobs: They identify risk and they manage risk. Of course, accidents and unplanned events can happen at any time, for almost any reason, and the cost of these events can often be enormous, so it's little wonder that risk management has become a key role for EHS professionals. One of the keys to mitigating risk is ensure that worker safety is your top priority. That requires having the appropriate programs in place to cover all possible contingencies, whether the interruption to normal work operations be the result of a temporary glitch or a widespread disaster. This ebook will offer timely guidance in how to best prepare for risk. We'll offer tips on how to tweak your safety management system to better promote safe operations. We'll look at how best to establish continuity plans. And we'll walk you step-by-step through the process of developing an effective job safety analysis. Remember: The best time to plan for an emergency is now… before it happens. Fill out the form below to get started.

Washing Your Hands of a Situation Can Be a Good Thing

Ok, apologies in advance if this topic grosses you out, but there’s a study out that says more than half of the people who use their companies’ restrooms don’t wash their hands before leaving. That’s just wrong in so many ways, but what really gets me to wondering is: Why? It’s not like it costs the employee anything to use the water or the soap or the towels (whether paper, cloth or air-blowers). Plus, while we’re all understandably squeamish about those nasty germs being spread on doorknobs, desks and other things the employee might end up touching, the majority of those germs are staying right there with him or her. So again I wonder: Why? I’m currently fighting a cold—living in Ohio, it’s a mere matter of time before the elements caught up to me—despite all my best efforts to wash my hands early and often and to avoid touching anything that looks in the least bit nasty. So I’m especially annoyed when people leave a restroom without even pretending to clean up after themselves. I mean, c’mon! That’s just nasty! Anyways, the study, which was conducted by Bradley Corp. (a company that manufactures commercial washroom, emergency safety and industrial solutions), speculates that maybe the employees are in a rush to get on with something else, but that sees like a pretty lousy reason. They’re putting themselves and their fellow workers at danger for the sake of saving, what, an extra 30 seconds to wash and dry their hands? Nobody is that busy. Part of it seems to be a gender thing, according to the survey, which says 63% of men frequently or occasionally don’t wash their hands after using the restroom, compared to 49% of women. I dunno… I’m not comforted much by the thought that only half of women don’t wash their hands. Is it a pride thing, one of those “I’m too cool to bother with washing my hands” attitudes? Is it a matter of upbringing, a lapse in common sense that can be laid at the feet of absent parents who never explained to their kids how and why to wash their hands? Is it just plain rudeness, or even worse, a deliberate act meant to spread nasty substances throughout the world? The survey doesn’t really say. But for those of you who want to know what constitutes a good, thorough hand-washing experience, Bradley Corp. recommends using soap, running water and vigorous scrubbing for at least 20 seconds. Bradley Corp.

Are You Sick and Tired of Working Too Hard?

Although some boastful types might suggest they give 110% on the job all day every day, we all know that’s just not possible. Nobody is capable of performing at peak efficiency at all hours of the day, and yet too often the expectations of senior management are that every employee—and especially those whose performance is measured in terms of productivity goals—start the day at the top of their game and then sustain that level until their shift ends. But that mentality of constant go-go-go is actually reducing a company’s productivity, not enhancing it. During the federal government shutdown (which is currently on hold, but could be reinstated depending on the whims of our politicians), some of the essential federal employees who continued to work despite not getting paid had to seek out part-time jobs just to keep the money coming in until they received their backpay. That includes TSA screeners and agents at the airports whose job it is to ensure the safety of our air transportation—definitely not the kind of high-stress situation where you’d want overworked and unpaid employees. “Fatigue from overwork, with limited opportunities for rest and recovery, can lead to dangerous workplace injuries, illnesses and even fatalities,” cautions Jessica Martinez, co-director of the National Council for Occupational Safety and Health (National COSH). While the government shutdown has exacerbated the situation, in fact the problem of workplace fatigue is nothing new. Fatigue costs U.S. companies more than $130 billion per year in health-related lost productivity, according to a study by the National Safety Council. The NSC study also reveals that an average company with 1,000 employees loses more than $1 million each year due to missed workdays, lower productivity and increased healthcare due to employee fatigue. The basic problem, says Deborah Hersman, NSC’s president and CEO, is that “too many employees are running on empty.” Fortunately, we now have the tools and the technology that can help reduce workplace injuries resulting from fatigue. A recent study led by the University of Buffalo and Miami University (with participation from Auburn University and the University of Dayton), and funded by the American Society of Safety Professionals (ASSP), points to the benefits of using wearable devices in the workplace to monitor fatigue levels of employees. The study looked at how such devices could assess ergonomic risk levels during various activities (particularly during assembly or material handling tasks), and the use of a dashboard-type display that could track workplace exposures to physical risk factors. “By setting parameters, we identified behavioral changes in how people conduct work over time,” explains Lora Cavuoto of the University of Buffalo, principal investigator of the study. “For example, we saw how workers performed the same task in the first hour as compared to the third hour when fatigue became a factor. Wearable technology can uncover precursors to larger problems and help establish safety interventions that may call for scheduled breaks, posture adjustments or vitamin supplements that help the body. Information is power, so knowing when, where and how fatigue impacts worker safety is critical.” Over half of the study participants said they’d be in favor of using wearables to track safety risk on the job. EHS Today’s own recent research into safety technology, conducted last fall, indicates a similar interest for adopting wearables, sensors and predictive analytics (among other technologies) to improve safety in the workplace. In fact, 91% say they use data analytics to improve their safety operation by predicting the likelihood of worker accidents or equipment breakdown. We should point out, though, that just about half of those respondents (46%) are in the very earliest stages of using data to monitor and predict workplace safety, but it’s an encouraging start. You can expect to see EHS Today cover safety technology and analytics in new and exciting ways in 2019. As Lora Cavuoto says, information is power, and we intend to provide you with timely and relevant information that will help you empower your employees to work as safely as possible.

Safety Leaders Aren’t Like Everybody Else

What is it that makes safety professionals different from their fellow managers and supervisors at a company? We all know how highly regarded (and compensated) financial wizards are; product designers are routinely praised for their innovative spirit; engineers are celebrated for their ability to solve any kind of structural problem; and chief executives are lauded for their long-term strategic vision. But what are safety leaders best known for? “Safety leaders have a lot more on their plates and a lot more responsibility that their peers don’t have,” says Ed Foulke, partner with the law firm Fisher Phillips and former head of OSHA. “They are directly responsible for the lives of their employees.” Every employee makes mistakes, Foulke points out, but “our job as safety professionals is to keep our employees from getting hurt or killed when they make mistakes.” Foulke, along with Barry Spurlock, an attorney and assistant professor at Eastern Kentucky University, was one of the speakers at EHS Today’s recent Safety Leadership Conference 2018 in Louisville, Ky. Together they addressed the many and significant ways that safety impacts on a company’s financial performance, and how safety leaders can earn a seat at the table if they learn to speak the language of the C-suite. And that includes the use of the word “safety” itself. As Foulke and Spurlock see it, safety leaders should get comfortable with using the word “risk,” which is very much an example of corporate-speak. After all, as Spurlock says, “We do two things as safety leaders: We identify risk and we manage risk.” Safety actually protects a company’s bottom line, Foulke says. “Safety should be managed as a profit center, not a line item. We should start treating risk and safety management as a business function.” The emerging ISO 45001 standard requires that safety and operations people need to work together, “and historically that hasn’t really happened much,” he observes. But operations people will discover the importance of recognizing and avoiding safety risks because losing workers to injuries has a direct and negative impact on productivity and profitability. During his SLC 2018 presentation, Spurlock listed “Ten Things Executives Should Know about Traditional Safety Metrics”: 1. The metrics are often influenced by luck. 2. They can be manipulated. 3. They don’t prescribe what went wrong. 4. They have limited diagnostic value. 5. They have limited impact on stakeholders. 6. They’re often inconclusive for safety failures. 7. They could be impacted by OSHA discrimination risk. 8. They don’t align with modern EHS management systems. 9. Their original purpose may not be indicative of current trends. 10. They don’t drive high performance. It’s vitally important, Spurlock says, that a company’s policies and procedures do not conflict with its safety mission, vision and values. To that end, he recommends that safety be integrated into all aspects of a company’s general management programs and processes. “Great safety leaders,” he emphasizes, “artfully determine why risks remain hidden, and then do whatever is necessary to remedy that problem.”

SLC 2018: How Safety Attitude Surveys Can Improve Safety Culture

We hear a lot of corporate culture, especially when it comes to the establishment of a culture of safety, but what exactly does that mean? As Mike McCarroll, president and CEO of PROSAFE Solutions, pointed out, “There’s a disconnect between how senior management, middle management and shopfloor-level workers perceive a company’s culture.” Too often, the C-suite has an unrealistic perspective of how their employees view safety, and what’s worse is that workers tend to think their company’s commitment to a safe workplace is a lot less than the corporate mission statement might suggest. “Although the best operational intelligence of a company’s performance is production-level employees,” McCarroll noted, “more often than not they’re not even asked for their input.” McCarroll was one of the speakers at EHS Today’s Safety Leadership Conference 2018, held earlier this month in Louisville, Ky., along with Chris May, EHS director of CRH Americas Materials, and Howard Mavity, partner with law firm Fisher Phillips. To illustrate the difference between management’s hopes and employees’ actual attitudes, the speakers suggested that companies conduct a safety culture assessment that looks at all components of a company’s safety culture. The goal, McCarroll said, is to plug the disparity gap—the difference between how senior management sees thing and the way workers see things. May has had quite a bit of experience doing just that in her role at CRH (formerly known as Oldcastle Materials), a supplier of aggregates, cement, asphalt, ready-mixed concrete and paving and construction services. CRH surveys its employees on safety topics every three years—no small task considering the initial survey process involved more than 20,000 employees at 70 CRH companies. What’s more, the survey process is manual, not online. “Employees are inherently skeptical of online surveys,” May said, “so CRH surveys them in person—written and anonymously—and then sent to a third-party service for compilation.” Although the safety survey form asks 20 questions, the most germane input, May explained, comes from the requirement that each employee contribute two comments about the state of safety at the company. Also, 20% of the employee population is randomly chosen to participate in focus group sessions that last roughly 90 minutes. After the entire survey process has been conducted, the results are presented to the full workforce in timely fashion. For instance, the top recommendation from the survey results (61%) is to improve the new hire safety training process as well as refresher training for existing employees. The company also learned that its employees believe supervisors need to be better trained in performance coaching.

Are You Ready to Go Digital?

How much time do you spend thinking about artificial intelligence? Does implementing virtual reality appear anywhere on your “to-do” list? What’s your strategy for using predictive analytics? What about blockchain or robotics or drones or the Internet of Things? While you might think that investigating these kinds of disruptive technologies is somebody else’s job—isn’t that what those IT tech wizards get paid to do?—the application of these technologies to the safety function is very much in the near future. While you may not have noticed it yet, there’s a digital revolution underway in EHS, and the more prepared you are for it, the safer your workforce will be. At least that’s the way global consulting firm Accenture sees it. The impetus behind this movement towards technologizing the safety discipline is a perceived slowdown in EHS performance gains. According to Pete Sullivan, EHS expert with Accenture, “Safety performance is plateauing due to changing expectations.” During a presentation at the recent NSC Congress & Expo in Houston, he explained that “while the value of safety is undisputed, most of the gains made in previous waves of safety innovation have run out of steam. And further improvements have become progressively more difficult to achieve.” Sullivan pointed to statistics compiled by the federal government that show that for asset-intensive companies (e.g., oil & gas, chemicals, transportation, mining & metals), total recordable incident rates (TRIRs) have remained unchanged or actually gotten a little worse over the past five years, indicating a pattern of stagnation when it comes to making worksites safer places. The problem is, the safety department’s projects tend to take a back seat to other departmental initiatives seeking internal funding. But as Sullivan explained, that situation could be enhanced by savvy EHS professionals who are able to articulate to the C-suite the value of emerging technologies—that not only can they protect their employees but they can also protect the company’s bottom line. And based on an Accenture study on what kind of tech CEOs plan to invest in, the C-suite has gotten the message that digital technologies have the capability to improve safety across the board. Current Accenture research suggests, for instance, that companies could see TRIR improvements of 20% or more from these technologies. The power of predictive analytics, for instance, would allow companies to predict high-potential worker incidents or inherent fatigue risk levels, while sensor-based technology could predict systems failures. Imagine, for instance, having technology that would allow you to track people and assets in your facility. As Sullivan explained, you would have real-time visibility for emergency mustering and security. Dynamic barrier solutions using video analytics could provide an automated view of risks across operations, even down to the equipment level. “Companies are already starting to invest in capital expenditures based on how they’ll impact the safety function,” observed Adam Cooper, a managing director at Accenture. However, he added, that situation is placing greater expectations on the safety function to improve performance. Most CEOs, Cooper said, have stopped asking, “What is digital?” and are now asking, “How can we best use digital in our companies?” Speaking to an audience of EHS professionals, Cooper stressed, “the safety function needs to have a seat at the table and you need to know what role you’ll play in this digital revolution.” Referring to the concept of technical debt, he pointed out, “Every day that you don’t invest in new technology, you get deeper and deeper in debt in terms of what it will eventually cost you to replace your outdated technology.” And for the safety function, that cost is measured not only in dollars but in lives. It’s important, Cooper said, that you have the right talent to shape and execute your digital strategy. As data gets more predictive, its capabilities to improve safety becomes greater, and hiring data scientists to work with the safety function will become a key strategy for EHS professionals. And keep in mind that he data sets of your suppliers and customers are becoming more important as well. The key, he said, is being able to identify where are the greatest risk areas where you need to improve, and how can technology best enable that? Not every technology will work for every company, and the investment they require can be significant. It’s important to understand exactly how your workers will be using the technology, and to educate yourself on what’s realistic for your operation and what’s just throwing money away on new tools that nobody will ever use. Your digital strategy, in fact, should basically mirror your EHS strategy by helping ensure that you put your best people in situations where they can get the job done in the safest way.

What If the Fate of the Entire World Rested in Your Hands?

We talk a lot here about safety, and quite a bit about health, but environment—the E in EHS Today—comes in a distant third among the three topics contained in our acronym. You’ll be hearing a lot more about environmental issues here in the months to come, though, and not just because I’ve covered supply chain topics for the past couple decades. What’s become quite clear in recent years is that companies need to focus not just on the health and safety of their employees but on their entire community—their suppliers, customers and end users. Corporate social responsibility (CSR) reports, which almost every public company produces annually, are scrutinized by shareholders with almost the same fervor as financial reports these days. While companies are still expected to turn a profit, the manner in which they do that is very much part of the ongoing debate on the global rights of citizens to expect companies to leave the planet in at least as good if not better condition than before they set up shop. Reducing injury rates and workers compensation claims are just part of the expectations for 21st Century EHS managers. The thinking now is that companies need to take responsibility for not only their own employees but for every worker throughout their global supply chain. It’s great, for instance, to have an affirmative action plan at your facility, but how aware are you of the incidence of human trafficking throughout your supply chain? It’s not enough to just provide respirators for your employees; companies are also expected to monitor and reduce and eventually completely eliminate their greenhouse gas emissions to protect their entire community. Holding toolbox safety meetings every morning is definitely a best practice, but before you pat yourself on your back, how often do you evaluate your suppliers’ working conditions? As you would expect, some industries are better at CSR than others. EcoVadis, a firm that maintains a global CSR risk and performance index involving more than 33,000 companies, evaluates each company in four broad areas: environment, labor practices and human rights, fair business ethics, and sustainable procurement. And the good news, according to Pierre-Francois Thaler, co-CEO of EcoVadis, is that initiatives aimed at tackling issues such as modern slavery, conflict minerals and environmental pollution are paying off. The one area that’s seen the most improvement worldwide is business ethics, particularly when it comes to fighting corruption and bribery, as well as improving information security. In fact, while most EHS professionals are understandably more focused on fire suppression equipment than data network firewalls, cybersecurity is not just something for the IT department to worry about. Cyber attacks and data breaches are today considered some of the leading causes of supply chain disruptions. “The global progress in business ethics and information security is an optimistic indicator that businesses recognize the importance of data protection and are becoming more aware of security risks that could impact operations,” Thaler points out. Interestingly, small and medium-sized companies (those with between 26-999 employees) tend to score higher on the CSR index than large companies (employing over 1,000 people). Also, European companies overall do better than other regions of the world. Although President Trump’s decision to pull the U.S. out of the Paris climate agreement was widely criticized as a move that would contribute to a higher incidence of climate change, the EcoVadis found no evidence that such a thing has happened. The environmental scores for U.S. companies, in fact, improved over the past year. So what types of companies score best on the CSR index? According to EcoVadis, small and medium-sized food and beverage companies are the overall winner, with an aggregate score of 46.8 (out of 100; any organization that scores above 45.0 is considered to be “engaged”). The group scoring the lowest, on the other hand, were large wholesale and services companies, with an aggregate score of 39.6. What then should EHS leaders take away from these types of studies? Isn’t there enough work to be done just to protect their employees from every manner of safety hazard that comes their way? Obviously, ensuring the safety of every employee will always be Job # 1 for an EHS professional, but maybe it’s time we take another look at what exactly that word “safety” means. Consider (as the EcoVadis study points out) that 40 million people are victims of modern slavery, and that more than 150 children are subject to child labor. How well do you really know your employees and their life situations? It’s not just an HR problem, or an IT problem, or a finance problem, or a C-suite problem. EHS leaders already know more than most how to protect their companies and their employees; who better to also be at the forefront at protecting their world?