How Health and Safety Technology May Save Us All in 2021

How Health and Safety Technology May Save Us All in 2021

By Tricia O'Connor

The marketplace responded swiftly last year with what it thought leaders wanted to keep their employees safe and businesses operational. 

But what the industry ended up with is a plethora of a la carte “wellness” solutions from which employers cherry-picked based on their immediate needs.  

The result is a bunch of band-aids employers are now stuck with. In most cases, the systems work independently from one another, adding to the workload and stress levels of the people tasked with operating and monitoring them. 

We’ve taken a different approach at EBI with the introduction of our Workplace Health and Safety Solution, and it caught the eye of the editors at Authority Magazine. They sat down with our own RJ Frasca, Vice President of Product and Marketing, to learn how EBI is helping businesses mitigate health and safety risks. Here’s some of that interview. 

Authority Magazine: Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

I have been working in the employment background screening industry for nearly 8 years. Prior to background screening, I worked for many years in the healthcare industry. Both are very closely tied to compliance, and background screening is very focused on HR and risk mitigation for employers. When the pandemic hit, EBI’s leadership team immediately saw the opportunity to help our clients and other businesses with mitigating risk while keeping employees confident and safe and businesses up and running as smoothly as possible.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?

I’m not sure I would call it a story, but the most interesting phenomenon I’ve observed since the coming of the pandemic is the speed at which companies have adapted and responded to an unknown of this scale. The more I’ve talked to colleagues and new companies, the more I have seen leadership teams lean on HR and IT for solutions. These departments, which are often more process and best practice-driven, have truly stepped up and been the creative minds behind solutions to solve this unprecedented problem. I have seen more creativity and problem solving this year than I have in my previous 25+ years in the business world, and it has been exciting to be a part of it.

Can you tell us about the cutting-edge technological breakthroughs that you are working on? How do you think that will help people?

As I have seen many times before, the best solutions to solve specific problems often lies in utilizing many disparate systems. For example, it was once not uncommon to hear of HR departments utilizing over 50 systems to manage talent acquisition and onboarding. Over time, platforms with deep partner integration ecosystems became necessary to maintain productivity while providing critical data insights to make decisions. 

This is a similar scenario. As companies evaluate what components will comprise their overall health and safety solutions, they will ultimately be looking to centralize the data to provide those data insights critical to keeping business running smoothly. As for the modular components, most have been around for quite a long time, and are being repurposed for the pandemic. Thermal scanners are being used to record daily temperature readings, ultra-wideband asset tracking has been repurposed to provide extremely accurate automated distance monitoring and contact tracing, occupancy tracking systems are being configured to meet the demands of ever-changing governmental reopening regulations, etc. 

These existing hardware devices collect data that can all be used to monitor employees, visitors, students and more before they leave to come in, at the entrances to facilities and on-premise itself. The health and movement data is then presented in a way that allows businesses to make decisions faster than ever before while keeping employees and visitors safer, healthier and more confident. The technology truly allows us to get as close to back to normal as possible and stay there.

How do you think this might change the world?

Whereas we looked at these solutions in the beginning as a means of getting business back up and running, the scaling and potential of the system has since evolved. By now, most companies have shifted their mindset and are looking to the future. I don’t believe business leaders will allow themselves to be this vulnerable again. Nor do I believe they will bring back employees without mitigating the risks of not only COVID-19, but any illness. The CDC Foundation reported in 2015 the average cost of influenza for businesses averaged $87 billion annually. Now add what is very potentially a seasonal, and annual coronavirus to that number, and you are looking at a very real, very large problem businesses must solve. 

I think the change we will see result from this will very much be the “new normal” in the workplace, retail, hospitality, etc.

Keeping “Black Mirror” in mind can you see any potential drawbacks about this technology that people should think more deeply about?

As we see time and time again, and increasingly so, data can obviously be misused for a multitude of reasons. This is where businesses need to take a very committed, very ethical stance to protect their employees and visitors. It will need to be approached from multiple angles, focusing on data security, and a well-defined usage policy. However, I don’t believe this will be any different than any sensitive data.

Was there a “tipping point” that led you to this breakthrough? Can you tell us that story?

The tipping point that led us to the realization of providing a full solution combining technology and process came when we spoke with our customers about what they were doing. Rather than a single tipping point, I would say it was the inconsistency of “band-aids” we were seeing applied to solve for problems never seen before. As a company, we already worked with the same decision-makers working on solving these problems and have always been focused on risk mitigation.

What do you need to lead this technology to widespread adoption?

I don’t think we will need anything more than time. As time goes on, and the pandemic’s end is not truly in sight yet, adoption seems to be picking up pace. What we once thought could be over by the end of the year, even as we discussed the possibility of it not being, we have all learned that the cost of not addressing illness in the office far outweighs the cost of mitigating it.

What are your “Five Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why. 

  1. I wish someone taught me to say the word “no” earlier on. For many years, I felt an obligation to say yes to any request, becoming a “jack of all trades” time and time again. It took me a long time and a lot of frustration to learn how to stay focused and simply say no to many asks that did not align with my priorities.
  2. I wish I hadn’t spent so many of my early years trying to recreate the wheel. I wish someone had instilled the value of finding and leveraging solutions that were already in place, so I could spend more time solving business problems.
  3. Get to know how your customers use your product. Physically watch them use it throughout their normal daily process if you have to. The more you observe your customers using your product, the more you’ll realize they use it in ways you never even thought of. Once you understand how it is actually being used, you’ll be able to work on building the best product there is.
  4. Trust your team. Take your time hiring and find people that fit. Once you have the right team in place, you can do anything.
  5. In the end, it’s results that count. Don’t get lost in the process. There are always numerous ways to solve a problem. Find the one that works best for you and your team.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

This is a tough one. I could think on this one forever. But if there were one simple movement I could inspire, it would be to be kind and be honest. If everyone were a little nicer and a little kinder, I think we would all be a lot happier.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

“You can’t go back and change the beginning, but you can start where you are and change the ending.” ―C. S. Lewis. That quote helped me realize that I spent far too much time wishing I had done something differently. We all make mistakes. Pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and get back on that horse. You’ll do better next time.

If you had 60 seconds to make a pitch to a venture capitalist, what would you say?

This pandemic has, at this point, changed the way we will do business forever. Employees, customers, and visitors will expect companies to be doing something to ensure their health and safety are being put first. Although the technology to automate and solve for this has been in place for a while, there has been no precedent or contextual need for putting together technology, process, and people to ensure this safety, while keeping business running smoothly. We have truly created that comprehensive solution and it is ready to scale and evolve as fast as necessary to meet any health and safety need, while providing critical data insights helping you make business decisions as rapidly and confidently as possible.

Stay Safe. Stay Open.

A coordinated technological health and safety umbrella like EBI Workplace Health & Safety can help all of us work confidently and safely, without interruptions. 

EBI Workplace Health & Safety is a secure U.S. cloud-based, customizable platform providing modular options for retailers and all organizations to protect their people and their livelihoods. The platform serves as a central data repository and analytics engine for data collected through employee mobile health apps, thermal scanners, and contact tracing systems. These analytics give employers the insights they need to make critical business decisions to keep workplaces open and operational. 

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*EBI originally crafted this article for Authority Magazine. View the article in its entirety here

About the Author

Tricia O'Connor

Tricia O'Connor

Writer. Digital marketer. Storyteller. An award-winning writer and editor, Tricia O'Connor is the Marketing Content Manager at EBI. Tricia worked as a broadcast and print journalist for nearly two decades writing and producing programming for high-profile networks like ESPN Radio, History Channel, and Hallmark Channel, as well as contributing editorial work to publications nationwide. Tricia joined the EBI marketing team in 2019 and is responsible for content strategy, development, and engagement. Tricia earned a master's degree in journalism from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University and is a proud undergraduate alumna of Wheaton College in Massachusetts.

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