What EHS professionals learned at NAEM 2020

Last week, NAEM hosted their 28th Annual EHS and Sustainability Management Forum. While this year’s event was a virtual experience, it was chock-full of insights and shared knowledge from leaders in the industry. Due to this crucial time for EHS and the world, it was one we won’t soon forget. Here at ehsAI there were five themes that stood out to us. I’d like to share them here, in hopes that they continue to drive us down an efficient, adaptable, and impactful path.COVID-19’s impact

Along with all of its derailment, COVID-19 poses remarkable opportunities in the EHS community. We’ve all witnessed how quickly the world can stop, pivot, and restart — from small acts in our daily lives to the largest corporations and governing bodies making drastic changes that pack a punch.

The evidence is clear: our society has the means and ability to right the ships of inequality, climate change, and consumption if we finally decide to do so. The EHS community has been pushed into the limelight and has been given the opportunity to sit at the helm to truly effect this change.

Leaders around the world are relying on our leadership and expertise. We must step up to our duty, and find the courage to lead with purpose and inspire others.Technology

The pressure that was put on us during COVID-19 to keep all stakeholders safe was immense. We learned firsthand that we don’t have the luxury of time or resources that are necessary to navigate a crisis. In fact, as EHS professionals, before the reality of 2020 set in, we’d already been stretched thin to keep up with the day-to-day demands of our roles. There are fires to put out. We’re each expected to be a Jack-of-all-trades. And we often struggle with archaic systems that don’t accurately keep up with the data we need to make integral decisions.

As a technology company ourselves, we see the opportunity for our industry to rely on machine learning, artificial intelligence, and other advancements to improve efficiencies, reduce costs and effort to improve EHS performance.Remote EHS audits

Our industry has been discussing remote audits for many years, but COVID-19’s restrictions on travel and face-to-face meetings pushed organizations to adapt virtually overnight. Companies quickly had to develop and implement their strategies.

Not surprisingly, we now know that remote EHS audits take two to three times more effort and time than in-person audits. This reiterates the emphasis on technology our industry needs to make, in order to streamline our processes and save resources.

ehsAI uses ML and AI to help EHS professionals quickly identify legal requirements to develop audit checklists, limiting the time required to prepare for an EHS audit.EHS risk management

This year has highlighted our weaknesses, making it clear where we have risk to manage. Along with the pandemic, we’ve also witnessed the wildfire crisis in the western region, and a turbulent political climate. So how can we protect and prepare ourselves? These were the key takeaways:

  • Be agile: quick to adapt and quick to act.
  • Be smart: produce and evaluate a large amount of data in a small amount of time.
  • Be mobile: acquire mobile technology that can be transferred easily to another location.
  • Be analytical: continuously re-evaluate your performance metrics and create new ways to measure and manage your successes and challenges.

The EHS community

As the cliché of 2020 goes, now more than ever we’re grateful for the forums, conferences, and showcases that NAEM continues to put on. They bring together the most relevant sources and leaders to share, educate, and inspire so our whole industry can spring forward.

It’s imperative we continue to help one another navigate our rapidly changing landscape. A big thank you to NAEM for making this possible.

After all: If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.

We’ve all proven we can go fast when we need to, now let’s go farther together.