- Episode 4
- September 10, 2021
Oliver Danckert, senior vice president of Global Strategy and the managing director of Verisk 3E Europe, and Tamie Webber, vice president of product and support for Verisk 3E, share insights on workplace and supply chain risks and how to mitigate them.
What are the trends impacting workplace and product safety? What innovations are ensuring safer workplaces and stronger supply chains? What does the future hold? A must-listen to help you understand how we can make businesses and industries more resilient.
Hello, I'm Gabriel Cohen, host of the Verisk podcast series Verisk Talks Risk. In today's podcast, Making the World a Safer Place: Resilient Workplaces, Stronger Supply Chains, we'll be chatting with Oliver Danckert and Tamie Webber. Oliver is senior vice president of Global Strategy and the managing director of Verisk 3E Europe. And Tamie is vice president of product and support for Verisk 3E.
We'll be covering a lot of interesting topics related to environmental health and safety, including:
- What are the risks that affect the workplace and supply chain and how can the industry mitigate them?
- What are the trends that impact workplace safety, product safety, and compliance?
- How can we make businesses and industries more resilient?
- What are some of the innovations that are ensuring safer workplaces and stronger supply chains?
- And what's ahead for the future?
A lot to cover. Welcome, Tamie and Oliver. Thank you for spending your morning with us today.
Tamie, let's start with you. What are some of the insights that you have on environmental health, safety, and compliance risks that affect the workplace and product supply chain?
And I think just as importantly, how is the industry mitigating some of those risks?
Thank you, Gabe. I'm really happy to be here today to share information on these really important issues and really how they affect the world around us. There's a myriad of environmental health and safety risks that impact the workplace and that can range from physical dangers associated with falls or working in confined spaces to health hazards associated with handling hazardous chemicals. There are thousands of regulations that are intended to help companies minimize those risks. And those regulations are there to really safeguard and protect employees and communities and customers. And that's really the foundation for which Verisk 3E was built.
Prior to my tenure at Verisk 3E, I worked in chemical distribution, and I remember very clearly one day walking through one of our customer sites, which was a metal plating shop that was plating metal on showerheads, actually. And as I went through the day and met with the customer, I got back to the car with my colleague and realized something was odd about my shoes. And when I looked at the bottom of my shoe, I had actually had a hole in the bottom of my shoe. And my colleague said, oh, yeah, that happens all the time. It's part of the chemicals that are being used within the metal plating shop when we were walking through, they tend to eat through the bottom of shoes.
And it was really at that point where I realized how important it is in what we need to do to protect these employees and how hazardous some of these chemicals that make our everyday products can be for those who make sure that those products are produced in a way that we can all use them. And so, by coming here to Verisk 3E it was a very noble purpose for us to be able to help companies really figure out what it is that they need to do to make sure their employees are safe.
And so, if you really think about the purpose of mitigating these risks, there's a lot of things that need to be considered. There are thousands of regulations and regulatory requirements that are impacting the business all over the globe. GHS or the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals is really focusing on environmental health and safety issues related to chemical products, while other regulatory drivers expand into things like social responsibility, product and supply chain transparency, and ecological sustainability. Achieving compliance with global regulatory requirements is complex and really time-consuming. And companies need to track the changes in regulations and also implement that when it comes to how it impacts their suppliers, their materials, and their substances.
And that's where Verisk 3E comes in to help. We really try to help reduce the risk by delivering intelligent, compliant solutions that help our customers solve these compliance challenges and make our workplaces safer. We enable our customers to really support the entire compliance lifecycle through the lifecycle of the product and how it moves through the supply chain.
So from research and development and creating products to selling products into global markets, to distributing those products through the supply chain, and then ultimately making sure those products, as they're being used in workplaces, all of that information is provided to them in a way where they can be actionable and protect the workers and the environments that they serve.
That's really interesting, Tamie, and I hope the shoes weren't the most expensive ones that you have, because that can get really costly after a while.
I learned my lesson.
It's clear, that getting a handle on these risks isn't easy, but it is reassuring to know that there are clear ways to tackle them. What are some of the trends that you will see that impact safety in the workplace and the community at large?
Great question, Gabe. And you know, we'd be remiss if we didn't bring up COVID and the pandemic and how it's evolved and how it changed related conditions from a regulatory and environmental health and safety point of view. Companies were asked to adapt very quickly when it came to resources, products, materials, and the markets that they served.
And just putting that on top of already the difficult task of managing the business and the regulatory requirements in a normal environment, it was critical that they were able to act and act quickly, and it was really inspiring to watch a lot of our customers pitch in to help.
We saw many of our customers like BASF, Corteva, DuPont, Ecolab, Lubrizol, they really sprung into action. They started formulating sanitizers, manufacturing and donating personal protective equipment, all the way from helping with vaccine production and developing testing devices.
These companies stepped up quickly to really react to the environment that we were all in and really helped protect workplaces and communities at large. But what I found also interesting is that when I first started with Verisk 3E, I expected that these chemical companies would be predominantly the customers that we would serve.
However, we have a very strong retail customer base, which also was very active during the pandemic in their pursuit of ensuring that their stores were safe for all of us to go and get all of our vital needs and goods and services throughout the pandemic.
And we really work and partner with them to help them during this very difficult time as they had to keep running business as usual by dispatching cleaning services, for example, when a store was impacted by COVID or an employee contracted COVID.
We have a 24-hour call center at Verisk 3E, and we were able to be there, ready to take calls from any store that had an issue and able to dispatch those cleanup services through the pandemic. What's interesting about it as we come out of the COVID pandemic, is that it's had a huge impact on how we look at workplace safety, and how we want to manage this going forward.
We saw really good work, really quick work, and we learned a lot from this experience, and our customers learned a lot from this experience. And so as we look to trends and how this has impacted trends, what's become increasingly more clear is that these companies are always required to handle more with less and looking and partnering with service providers like Verisk 3E has been a growing trend within the industry, no matter what industry it is, to help bring that expertise in a more actionable way as quickly as possible.
So, what we do as a partner with these companies is work closely to the changes in regulations and how they impact their workers and environments and communities. And so a lot of recent changes within the U.S. and the European regulatory community are really driving new standards as a result of these trends.
And we're just helping them keep up with these at a rapid pace.
Thanks, Tamie. This past year in particular, certainly had even more challenges than any of the past years.
Oliver, let's turn to you now. We'd love to hear from you. What trends are we seeing that impact product safety and compliance from your viewpoint?
Thanks, Gabe. This is an interesting question. And when I'm listening to our customers in the retail and chemicals manufacturing business, they all share the same concern about increasingly complex product safety and chemical compliance obligations and rapidly evolving customer requirements on a global scale, along with the demand of shrinking resources.
So, in addition, we are also seeing increasing pressure on our clients for demonstrating transparency, sustainability, and corporate social responsibility. And a consequence of these developments, the rise of voluntary and mandatory products safety and sustainability requirements has made the ability to efficiently collect, validate, and share product compliance information across the global supply chain more important than ever before.
Let me also bring another aspect to your attention. So NGO pressure and consumer demand for transparency is forcing manufacturers, distributors, and retailers to disclose the ingredients in their products. This is evidenced by NGOs like Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families, and their Mind-the-Store campaign that challenges the largest retailers to eliminate toxic chemicals in products and packaging and work towards developing safer chemical policies. So we are seeing more customers developing a restricted substance list and priority chemicals list, while committing to continuous improvement.
And this has led to public disclosure of policies and chemicals and progress to goals. So in other words, the world is watching to see how well companies can safely and sustainably develop, manufacture, market, utilize, and distribute and recycle chemicals containing products.
And our customers are taking these challenges very seriously and adopt towards these requirements with implementing the circular economy, which connect sustainability objectives with the company's objectives of sustainable economic growth.
I think for the average consumer, it's reassuring to see that these external forces from customers and NGOs and consumers are having positive impacts on safety and compliance. In your opinion, how can we make businesses and industries more resilient to improve workplace and product safety?
At Verisk 3E, we have really great and very talented people in our organization, and they helped our customers already for decades to interpret compliance requirements and regulations and implement processes and solutions across industries to help them stay in compliance.
So we have all this expertise. And personally, I'm working in this environment also since many, many years. And it's really interesting to listen to the demand of our customers day by day. Our compliance solutions are based on that global regulatory expertise of our people and enable clients to proactively anticipate and manage regulatory changes, avoid supply chain disruption, and accelerate time to market.
When I also take another perspective, which is focusing on integrating compliance into the value chain of our customers, we also help companies proactively address product safety, already beginning with upstream product stewardship requirements in the research and development phase and manufacturing processes; midstream in the distribution, transport, and sale of products; and downstream through the use of products by workers or consumers. And finally, at the products’ final disposal or use.
So the ability to check for and verify compliance at every stage of the value chain of our customers is critical. So when product stewardship is aligned with regulatory compliance, teams are able to quickly and effectively respond to the demands of customers, consumers, or regulatory agencies.
And by providing access to regulatory intelligence and product safety data across the enterprise, we also enable companies to run compliance checks to ensure product marketability in intended markets, efficiently create safety data sheets and labels, for instance, for effective hazard communication.
We also automate product classification to safely handle and transport hazardous materials. So we help customers to do that, and to reduce time to market and keep current with continually evolving regulations worldwide. In addition, digitalization is helping companies stay up to date with emerging trends and take bigger and more future-leaning actions to reduce supply chain workplace hazards and overall product compliance risks.
One way businesses can use digitalization to ensure resiliency is to maintain a single centralized version of the truth, making actionable intelligence such as product safety information, regulatory content, and supplier data accessible across the enterprise, rather than continuing to store conflicting data in silos.
In other words, when we talk to our customers, they are looking for a holistic compliance platform, which is synergetic across the different compliance requirements and is integrated into their customer-specific workflows.
Great insights, Oliver.
Tamie, I want to come back to you for a moment. What solutions and innovations are helping to ensure safer workplaces and strengthen supply chains and how have our customers shaped them?
One way to strengthen their supply chain, and customers realize the importance of communication through the supply chain, is streamlining the exchange of material product and supplier information. It’s critical. When companies can efficiently collect, validate, and share product and supply chain compliance information, they're just much better positioned to launch safer products and ensure workplace safety for their customers and their own employees and make sure that the information from the supply chain and products in the supply chain keep moving in a continual fashion.
Our 3E Connect solution is really there to support customers in this effort. It's a single source of truth for supply chain compliance. And what it does, it creates an intelligent and actionable knowledge base of information collected from the supply chain. And really, when we're talking about product compliance in the supply chain, we're looking not only at components of finished products, but also the substances that go into those components and then ultimately looking at it from a customer's finished product point of view.
We've talked about the increasing number of regulations and keeping abreast of product safety and chemical regulations is a daunting task. Companies turn to tools like ours to monitor multiple jurisdictions and keep up to date on news with respect to regulatory and industry development so they can predict and manage for change. Regulatory horizon scanning tools and up-to-date content really help, especially when they can provide insights on new and emerging legislation.
And what's really interesting about all of this is if you look to some of the industry data and some of the data coming from regulators, one of the top 10 workplace safety violations cited by OSHA, which is the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration, is hazard communication. And that ranks number two in their list of top 10. And when companies fall short of informing their employees of these hazards of the chemicals that they're working with, that's where they're really putting their own company, their workers, and potentially their customers’ employees at risk.
So, we work really closely with our customers to help ensure that employees have access to information about the hazards associated with the products that they use in the workplace—making sure that they're compliant to avoid workplace fines, production delays, and ultimately damage to their brand.
We provide a platform that can provide 24/7 access to safety data, such as safety data sheets and chemical inventory reports, which really give employees an insight into how to handle chemicals, the ingredients, and really look at understanding the classification or regulatory implications of every product in the workplace.
Additionally, when you have all of this data, you think about it—you have product data, you have regulatory data. You have jurisdictional data as far as where these products are located and where they're moving through the supply chain. Having them work together to maximize value and efficiency when it comes to making compliance actionable is just critical.
So, they aim to achieve the highest degree of automation. And we help achieve that automation with our customers to help reduce the intense workflow of collecting and automating the collection of this information so that it can be more readily available for use within their organization.
Any change in regulatory requirements has a trickle-down effect to how hazards are communicated about a product. And we can use AI and machine learning and automation to speed that up. Customers are really looking for that because it's critical to get this information in the hands of the worker as soon as possible.
So they're really seeking a single provider that can provide all of this information into one platform that allows them to take these kind of actions in a holistic manner. And it certainly just makes them more efficient and more productive when it comes to implementing all of these regulatory changes.
The responsibility that falls on companies is enormous. It's reassuring to know that Verisk 3E can provide and support with these innovative solutions to create safer workplaces and stronger supply chains.
Oliver, can you share your thoughts on what you think the future holds? What are some of the approaches that you see taking shape in chemical, retail, pharma, healthcare, and a lot of the other industries over the next three to five years, maybe even go even further? What's coming up in the next five, 10 years as well?
What we have seen for the last few years, we have seen a strong desire to demonstrate sustainability. So companies are largely driven by initiatives like the UN Sustainable Development Goals. And the adoption of these goals by industry has resulted in a rising number of multinational corporations that have pledged to work only with suppliers that adhere to social and environmental standards.
So in this context, the UN Sustainable Development Goals are addressing environmental, economic, and social aspects, which in practice turn into concrete measures and activities for companies, specifically when dealing with supply chain requirements.
And at Verisk 3E, we are focused on helping our clients ensure safety, compliance, and sustainability. And we provide actionable intelligence to enable safer, more sustainable products and business processes.
Well, Oliver and Tamie, thank you so much for joining us today and providing such a comprehensive view of the risks, trends, and opportunities facing workplaces, supply chains, and communities, and how we can make businesses and industries more resilient.
Thank you all for listening today. To learn more about the risks impacting businesses, communities, and people, be sure to visit us at Verisk.com and follow Verisk on Linkedin, Facebook, and Twitter.
We hope you enjoyed today's podcast. We invite you to join us for our next episode. Until next time.