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The Value of Improving EHS Task Management [Infographic]

A typical utility company or manufacturer may have hundreds of tasks related to OSHA and EPA regulations, state and local laws, permit limits, contractual obligations, and so on. These tasks are very different from other types of day-to-day tasks. For one, the consequences of not completing a safety or environmental task on time are much more serious since a noncompliance can result in fines, legal fees, lost time and revenue, and reputation damage.
 
In our work with dozens of companies in highly regulated industries, we've seen firsthand how improving the way your team manages tasks can have a direct impact on not only compliance performance but also the business' bottom line. 
 
Here we’ll look at some of the costly problems that companies face when it comes to EHS task management and quantify the value of improving your task management process.
 
First, check out the infographic below. This graphic showcases fascinating data about the challenges organizations are up against and the benefits task management can provide. Then, read on for a more detailed look at each of these insights. 

Copy of Task Management Infographic

 

1. Only about half of all projects finish within their initially scheduled times. (Source: The Project Management Institute)

Humans are innately bad at estimating time. It almost always takes twice as long to complete a task as what we originally thought it would take. Not surprisingly, only a little more than half (52%) of all projects finish within their initially scheduled times. Fixing this starts with getting better at managing our day-to-day tasks.

2. The average person uses 13 different methods to control and manage their time. (Source: The Productivity Institute)

Calendars. Email reminders. To-do lists. Spreadsheets. The reality is we’re juggling a million things at once, so most people use a variety of different systems to manage their time. But when tasks are scattered across different tools, it’s easy to overlook an important deadline.

Plus, you waste time moving tasks from your inbox to your calendar, or from your spreadsheets to your to-do list. If you find yourself spending more time switching between your time management tools than you do on your actual work, it might be time to look for a more streamlined system.

3. Seven out of ten professionals use a to-do list on a regular basis. (Source: Dovico)

To-do lists are by far the most common tool for task management. It makes sense: to-do lists are very helpful for managing simple tasks like household chores and errands. But when it comes to more complex projects, to-do lists aren’t up to the task.

For one, to-do lists don’t help you plan your time effectively. Staring at a to-do list a mile long can leave you feeling overwhelmed with no idea where to start. And what about tasks that require input from other people? You need a tool that’s designed for task management specifically.

4. A whopping 41% of to-do list items are never completed. (Source: The Project Management Institute)

In other words: if you put something on your to-do list, there’s a good chance it won’t get done. Most items either get crossed off within the first few hours, or languish on your to-do list forever. That’s a real problem when it comes to tasks like regulatory reporting deadlines and scheduled audits.

5. Only 20% of the average work hours are used for “crucial” and “important” things. (Source: The Productivity Institute)

In an 8-hour workday, that means 1 hour and 36 minutes are spent on high-value work. The rest of the workday is spent on mundane tasks, like data entry and email follow-ups. Fortunately, many of these items can be automated with the use of task management software.

6. Regulatory uncertainty is one of the top challenges faced by companies today. (Source: Deloitte)

This is true across a variety of industries including energy, banking, insurance, life sciences, investment management, and securities. Especially when regulations change so frequently, it’s important to have a foolproof system for managing your compliance obligations.

7. Eighty-six percent of executives and employees cite lack of collaboration or ineffective communication for workplace failures. (Source: Fierce Inc.)

Failure happens. Executives and employees are human, so understandably they will make mistakes from time to time. But oftentimes you can point to one thing in particular that caused this.

When regulatory violations occur, poor collaboration and communication is frequently the culprit. Ineffective communication leads to confusion over responsibilities, which can cause you to miss a deadline and fall out of compliance.

8. Along similar lines, 92% percent of executives and employees agree that a company’s tendency to hit or miss a deadline will impact bottom line results. (Source: Fierce Inc.)

It goes without saying, but your organization’s ability to hit deadlines affects everything else you do. One late task can have a ripple effect on the rest of the organization, causing delays and failure to meet scheduled targets.

This has serious consequences for your bottom line. When products aren’t delivered on time, for example, customers are unhappy and your risk losing their business. Similarly, when safety and environmental tasks don’t get completed on schedule, you risk unnecessary fines and excess costs that eat into your profits.

9. Noncompliance costs an organization 2.71X more than complying with regulations. (Source: KPMG)

The average cost of compliance is $5.47 million, compared to $14.82 million for noncompliance — a difference of $9.35 million each year. That includes fines, settlements, business disruption, productivity loss, revenue loss, and more. Even a small improvement in your compliance task management processes can have a big impact on your business’ bottom line.

10. OSHA conducted 33,401 inspections in FY19—more inspections than the previous three years. (Source: OSHA.gov)

While it’s true that OSHA enforcement has declined since its peak of nearly 41,000 inspections in 2012, the federal agency still performs inspections and assesses penalties. So do state plans, which are not counted in that total.

Facilities with a poor track record can expect more frequent inspections and increased scrutiny from regulators. It’s just another reason why managing health safety tasks like investigations, corrective and preventive actions, and reporting deadlines is so important.

11. The maximum OSHA penalty for an other-than-serious violation is $13,494 per violation. (Source: OSHA.gov)

The penalty increased from $13,260 the previous year. To put that number in perspective, the average factory worker in the U.S. earns $15 an hour.

So the money you’d save by avoiding a single violation could pay for about 900 hours of work—just over five months’ wages!

Other-than-serious violations include things that don’t pose an immediate threat but are nevertheless out of compliance, including poor recordkeeping and failing to complete OSHA logs. The majority of these types of violations are easily avoidable by simply monitoring your safety tasks more closely.

12. The EPA assessed $360 million in federal and civil judicial penalties in FY19. (Source: EPA.gov )

That’s more than in all but three of the past ten years. So while you might think your company is at less risk of a penalty under the current administration, you can’t afford to let your guard down.

Penalties for noncompliance are steep. For example, the penalty for violating the EPA’s chemical management reporting and recordkeeping rules under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) is $37,500. The easiest way to prevent this situation is to avoid falling out of compliance in the first place by managing your tasks and requirements more carefully.

13. Using digital productivity tools and automating back-office processes can improve profitability by 30%. (Source: McKinsey Global Institute)

Few investments yield such an impressive return. For comparison, the average annual return of the S&P 500 over the last century is about 10%. Considering that EHS task management software starts at between $5-10K, investing in these types of tools is a no-brainer.

The bottom line

When EHS teams don’t have to spend all their time chasing tasks and deadlines, they’re able to focus on the work that matters. This has a measurable impact not only on your employee productivity and morale, but also on your business’ bottom line. Give your EHS team the tools to manage their tasks effectively and make sure nothing gets overlooked. Request a demo of Perillon’s task management software today!

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