An effective Employee Health and Safety (EHS) program in Life Sciences requires a laser focus on complex and often overlapping procedures, policies, and regulations specific to biopharma environments.
Integrating Flagship Facility and DENS EHS Programs
Although DENS has a particularly good system in place with Red Vector, one of the initiatives for Flagship’s Safety Team is to ensure that we are thoroughly assessing the information they have loaded on that system, including how DENS is onboarding employees in their EHS program specifics.
We will continue to perform gap analyses in the field and ensure that any changes to regulations are thoroughly understood so that we can apply those changes consistently across the portfolio. We have quite a few tools
in place to facilitate a seamless transition and integration with Flagship’s Safety culture.
Visiting some of DENS' client sites has provided an even better understanding of the EHS work that is being done by DENS and provided insight into what remains to be done. We have some particularly important initiatives to support at the same time, such as providing the appropriate training equipment for Life Sciences environments and equipping teams in the field with the right tools and techniques to protect them.
Safety as a Company Value?
Flagship includes Safety as a core value because our people are our most valuable assets. If Safety isn’t a core focus/value in your organization, your teams simply won’t be as productive or effective, employee morale will suffer, and cost controls will most certainly be negatively impacted.
While we recognize the importance of cost factors, at the end of the day it's about our people. We have core values that extend into other areas such as Caring, Integrity, Customer Focus, and so on, but we've really built a structure that allows Safety to be represented across the organization, both vertically and horizontally.
That structure starts with our Founder and CEO, Mr. Dave Pasek, at the monthly Executive Safety Committee Meeting. The Senior Team actively participates in these meetings. We review and discuss Safety performance, and we construct Safety improvement initiatives that include all levels of the organization and cascade down to business unit Safety Committee Meetings, Manager Safety Committee meetings, and the frontline.
It is critical that Safety communications are delivered to frontline employees, but it’s even more important for us to communicate to the top of the organization on behalf of frontline employees. We value learning from our frontline employees about how their job is impacted by different Safety aspects. We take the feedback from our frontline workers and use it to guide process changes that make their jobs safer.
When an organization gets to that point – the point where everybody is engaged in thinking about and talking about Safety – it has really achieved a mature culture that allows everyone to look out for one another and have a “my teammates’ keeper” mentality.
Safety in Life Sciences Environments
Being a service provider in active Life Sciences environments is unique for Flagship since our frontline workers typically work overnight when facilities tend to be emptier. We're often cleaning and moving or breaking down equipment in laboratories, and therefore we must be aware of the risk of injury to those working in the lab at the time.
In cases where we must barricade or quarantine our service activities, we have specific procedures used and we ensure our employees are aware of these procedures and use them to perform the task safely and to minimize their impact on the operational environment.
We want folks to be aware of what scheduled tasks are being performed so they know when it’s safe to enter a particular area or when it’s going to be barricaded. We all want these procedures to be aligned because the Safety of our employees and our clients’ assets is something we cannot put at risk. Communication is key! We believe working with the partner and client to design and implement safe maintenance procedures and then clearly communicating those standards will help keep everyone safe in the long run.
Throughout the Organization
We are proud that every employee really embraces Safety and its role in delivering quality facility management and supporting a safe environment at every client location.
Everyone – from Operational Leadership, Human Resources, Sales, Marketing, and Finance – is invested in pursuing the core value of Safety. That investment is infectious; it ultimately spreads through other departments and to every member of our company, which is a wonderful thing!
Keeping Safety top of mind will happen by expanding communications to our Technicians in various roles across our Life Sciences teams. We have several different means to communicate with our frontlines:
- Holding regular safety meetings
- Opening every meeting with a safety message
- Facilitating incident investigations and communicating our findings
- Encouraging and collecting feedback from all employees
- Delivering Safety communications to all locations
At DENS Client Locations
Our Life Sciences Technicians often work independently, and it is critical that they are well trained in our Safety procedures. The key to Safety success is proper training, awareness, communication, and looking out for one another. That’s a huge part of the culture. We want to know that everybody can work together and is empowered to stop work due to a Safety concern, whether related to a hazard or someone performing a job unsafely.
In the Life Sciences environment, it’s imperative that employees are equipped with the appropriate skill sets and Safety mindsets and that we are actively engaging with Life Sciences frontlines regarding our commitment to Safety.
We’ve been successful in transitioning DENS to our online incident reporting system, AIC, which has many benefits. The online reporting system provides a process for reporting workplace-related incidents so that we can get information into the hands of insurance carriers quickly and manage claims to help injured employees.
It also gives us full visibility into trends so that we can be more proactive in the field. For example, if we see a lot of strains and sprains at a particular location, we can focus on addressing that issue. We can have that information disseminated to the various locations so that we can be strategic in our approach to Safety. We also use a telephonic nurse service to triage injuries. Nurses are available over the phone 24/7 to discuss and provide immediate medical assistance to injured employees.
Additionally, we leverage a Safety observation program that's critical to ensuring ongoing Safety communications with frontline employees. Developing a culture of Safety is a very big focus of ours, which requires our supervisors to be actively engaged and conducting Safety observations in the field. We are excited to expand the Safety observation program and incorporate DENS this year, which will be a complementary component to an already solid Safety program.
Again, Safety observation is a proactive approach that helps us identify unsafe behaviors and hazards in the workplace as well as recognize and reward safe behavior, which has become a staple of our Safety Culture.
Colin Shields is VP/Safety at Flagship Facility Services and is tasked with overseeing the Safety Program at DENS Facility Services.