Every year, June is National Safety Month. This year’s theme, “No 1 Gets Hurt,” aims to reinforce and highlight the many ways organizations can protect their employees and take proactive steps to ensure no one is injured (or worse) in the workplace and throughout the community.

According to the United States Department of Labor, the number of workplace injuries and illnesses dropped from almost 11 incidents out of every 100 workers in 1972 to 2.9 in 2016, and the number of deaths fell from 38 per day in 1970 to 14 in 2016. These statistics serve as proof points that imposition and adherence to tighter regulations are effective. To maintain this steady decrease, compliance and safety training must be continued areas of focus for businesses and employees.

In 2002, EHS Today started recognizing “America’s Safest Companies” to reward organizations who excel in this area. While running through the list of companies recognized in 2017, the notable characteristics that all finalists had in common included supportive management, employee involvement, comprehensive training programs, and the integration of the value and benefits of safety into the corporate culture.

Five of the 13 winners in 2017 were manufacturing companies, which is remarkable given how challenging it is for them to remain compliant, as regulations and standards change frequently and randomly in this industry. Manufacturing companies are keenly aware of the challenges involved with complying to changing regulatory requirements, effectively communicating these changes, and ensuring all employees are properly trained and remain up to date with the newest certifications. In fact, compliance reporting and audits are noted as one of the top challenges facing CIOs in the manufacturing industry.

To help streamline the compliance process while maintaining productivity, new digital solutions are available to help manufacturers and other companies bring products to market using simplified processes while keeping pace with safety standards and evolving legislation. These solutions help to oversee and monitor adherence to a wide variety of mandated requirements, from labor laws to workplace standards and legislation to safety regulations. An end-to-end workforce management solution can help companies bolster safety by automating policies, establishing proactive compliance processes and integrating training into the workflow.

Automation of Policies

Automated workforce management systems do more than track time and attendance, schedule employees, and manage absences; they can also ensure that employees have the current certifications they need to be both safe and compliant before being scheduled to work. Furthermore, these systems can issue alerts when an employee is being scheduled for a position that requires training and certifications maintenance. With full visibility into whether or not additional training or recertification is needed, employees who are noncompliant will be prevented from operating a machine or performing a task that might put them, their colleagues and, potentially, the public at risk.

Establishment of Proactive Compliance Processes

To pass a compliance audit, businesses are required to provide data to demonstrate that they took measures to ensure employees, as well as suppliers, vendors and subsidiaries, adhere to current regulations. Producing these data can be challenging and time-consuming, but these proof points are an important indicator to show companywide compliance. To save time and produce reports in real-time, businesses must invest in a human capital management system (HCM) that can aggregate and unify information from multiple sources and platforms, making access to critical development and people insights more simple, reliable and actionable.

Integration of Training Into the Flow of Work

Research from Bersin by Deloitte has found that, on average, people have 24 minutes per week to spend on learning. Therefore, as Josh Bersin wrote for CLO, it’s important for employers to “give people access to just enough information to do their jobs, deliver it when and where they need it, and use intelligence to make sure they get enough spaced learning and macrolearning in the process.”

To encourage continuous learning and development, employees should be able to access multi-module training content through a central learning management system. Companies should curate health and safety content aligned to changing regulations and standards and provide guidance on what to do in the case of an emergency. Proactive, integrated training helps prepare employees for the unexpected and mitigate injuries and save lives.

To facilitate learning efforts, integrate microlearning content and videos into employees’ workflow, such as through their workforce management system, giving them knowledge that can be applied on the job immediately. When employees can quickly access content in a concise format in the systems they are familiar with, learning subconsciously becomes a daily habit.

A Proactive Approach to Safety and Compliance

To address safety holistically, businesses across all industries must invest in HCM solutions that integrate talent, learning and workforce management capabilities, for a tailored strategy that focuses on compliance by aligning content and training with the organization’s unique objectives. This approach not only ensures employees are held accountable and certified, but it also incorporates compliance training into the overall business strategy. A culture of compliance sets the foundation for safety in the workplace and provides employees with the resources they need to be prepared in the wake of a potential emergency.

A safe workplace is a right, not an option.