4 Key Criteria to Consider when Outsourcing Safety Operations in Life Sciences Facilities

As life sciences organizations outsource more of their non-core activities, the safety systems associated with those functions become increasingly complex. Managing safety requires a set of capabilities that are not central to the life science business, according to a new report from Jones Lang LaSalle (JLL). 

“Managing all safety programs in-house may seem like a low-risk option, but, in reality, this can actually be a missed opportunity to reduce compliance risks, increase efficiency and improve the bottom line,” observed Ed Ryczek, Director, Environmental Health and Safety, Jones Lang LaSalle. “The proper outsourcing partner can allow life science organizations to focus more intently on the core aspects of the business — the development and delivery of critical medicines — without getting side-tracked by additional safety and compliance concerns.”
The right outsourcing partner can help a life sciences organization minimize risk and maximize its bottom line. Here are four key criteria for selecting a facilities safety operations team:

1. History of Success in Life Science Outsourcing. Although past performance is no guarantee of future results, an outsourcing partner should be able to provide documentation of its commitment to safety performance and compliance. Leading providers will be able to show performance metrics, including lagging metrics, such as injury rates for their employees and subcontractors, environmental incidents and proactive/leading indicators such as good catches/positive observations, safety training completion, quantification of safety communications and committees, and verification reviews and inspections. Successful partners will also administer a procurement review and verification of key metrics for vendors and contractors.

2. Depth of Expertise. It’s important that potential partners have the environmental, health and safety (EHS) resources that can account for all of a company’s facilities, regardless of geographic location, functionality, specific scope and technical needs. Safety and environmental regulations vary by national, state and local jurisdiction. A provider should be able to leverage the depth of their resources to deliver the technical EHS expertise where needed, with the proper local requirements as well. Typical EHS skill sets that provider teams deliver include: OSHA regulatory expertise; incident investigation; EHS management system development and installation; construction/project safety support; environmental expertise; hazardous waste management; and waste treatment operations.

3. Consistent Delivery of EHS Programs, including Education and Training. Ultimately, the success of EHS in outsourcing activities will be based on a partner’s ability to ensure that employees and contractors in the partnership are trained in, and deliver, consistent services with a “safety first” mind-set. Providers need to ensure that all staff has the appropriate level of safety education and awareness and are able to deliver on standard operating procedures (SOPs) consistently across all facilities. It is also important to reinforce the training with a robust continuing education program. Additionally, if and when non-compliant procedures are observed, the lapse should be approached as an opportunity to reinforce safety procedures to prevent more serious incidents from occurring. Safety promotion around the facility is also effective. Visual indicators, such as signs and posters, will promote awareness of surroundings.

4. Transparent Reporting and Indicators. Leaders in life science facilities need to be aware of facility risks so they can properly plan for and manage them. Unaddressed issues can cause unpredictable incidents that pose threats to personnel and production. The right partner will ensure that facility executives are up to date, and will supply investigation reports of incidents and events, including key insights to avoid similar future events. They will develop safety and injury reports trending occurrences to identify focus areas. Through this analysis, leaders can evaluate performance trends, minimize uncertainty and optimize facility performance. 
Successful providers will also track current in-house staff, contractors and subcontractors. They will report injuries and other events categorized by workgroup, location and activity. Additionally they will openly and honestly share performance information across similar operations to improve overall safety of all accounts. These reports promote accountability and should be built into evaluations.

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