Social Media; Is it of any use to EHS Folks!?


I came across the below post in ISHN Magazine, this was written last year on Social Media like Twitter, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn etc. I reproduce below for folks who dont have web access to sites. 

My take on SM! Coincidentally this week marks my 10 Years on Facebook. Facebook reminded me with a video of the event. 2007 was also the year in which I joined Twitter and LinkedIn. 

  1. LinkedIn has been hijacked from the very purpose of professional exchange of  professional/business related thoughts, ideas to now a glorified Facebook in coat suit & skirt blouse! I can’t help hide my frustration in people posing pictures of their kitten (to steal from Phil) or other personal aspects of life. What also infuriates me is Linked in prompting me to send birthday greetings !! Having grown in an environment to mind my own business and deliver results with focus and maintain relationship to achieve excellence, I can’t understand how sending out greetings to folks who don’t even respond to emails on matter  that is sought or require a response of terms of engagement/doing business (That is another matter, I have posted about it here) !! I have practically opted out of LinkedIn with a post in a quarter or so, may be even less than that.
  2. As for Whatsapp the new craze which Phil has not covered in his article, it has also become a monologue, with 1% of group members posting 99 % information and other 99% of 99% (i.e 98% to be clear) remaining mute spectators. I am yet to see a meaningful dialogue/discussions something new picked up out of discussions in whatsapp chat be it in Safety, Personal, City, politics etc. 
  3. Facebook and Twitter:- More on personal side of folks! I practically see no difference between Facebook and Blog except the interface is more user-friendly,ease of access in Facebook and reach out is more! What U can post in your Blog u may as well post a link of the same in Facebook, Twitter. Facebook, Twitter appears to be condensed version of 100s of blog page u track follow. Meaningful discussions are very few on professional side. I agree with Phil’s comments that people want to be politically correct and do not want to be in professional confrontational mode or to disagree without getting in to personal abuse. I still can’t fathom how people get in to personal abuse when they don’t agree on facts at a professional level. (Lack of emotional intelligence is my interpretation) 
  4. Blog:- Again, the reach out for blog is very less is my interpretation! I reach out 10s of Blog sites globally and I see page hits are pathetically low. People are not even aware, that they can get each blog post pulled in to their IN BOX email Id  through subscription and read at leisure or delete message if they dont have time. Even this HSE blog, this is my 45th post and my page view is 2500 hits at a rate of  less than 30 a day over 90 days since my blog was launched. With > 3500 safety professionals (The least number) even reaching out once a month, the hits should be 3 times more!! I wonder what prevents folks from reaching out to explore sites or to subscribe. Subscription to my blog is 32! 
  5. Youtube:- Best for posting consolidated thoughts for a topic that can cover various elements through slides, videos, talk etc. Can even save time and great way to access remote folks who can’t be covered in face to face training. Again poorly used may be due to bandwidth issues, access, data security issues.
  6. Skype/ Google talk/ Go to Meeting:- web interactions between folks to exchange ideas, discussions. Record and post it as YouTube video or equivalent. Same issue as YouTube in many parts at work place.

I am not posting above to plead for subscription! I would continue to post my thoughts on topics that can be interest to EHS folks. As a EHS professional, I had benefited immensely from PULL SYSTEM at work which is to seek information and pull towards me. I request folks to provide inputs on topics they wanted to be covered be it Technical/ Communication/ Professional or Social-Generic issue that affects performance at work. While I may not have all the answers, (Nor I can ever claim to be known all end all), I can reach out to folks in my network to get some meaningful answers which can help moving the needle in resolving the issues that are brought up.

I request once again, EHS Professionals to be active! As the saying goes, the most Stupid question that is ever asked in NOT ASKING A QUESTION!

Thank you, God bless


30/5/17 1650 Hrs


Is social media dead for safety professionals? Phil LaDuke

The social networking phenomenon has fostered many, usually misguided and ill-advised, attempts to capitalize on the popularity of the medium to boost sales, and to market to new (and usually younger) markets.

There have been even attempts to use social networking to increase the safety of the workplace. As well-intentioned, and often well-executed as some of the attempts by safety professionals to create a safety social network have been, these attempts all seem to have fallen flat.

Social networking as a safety tool

Social networking would seem to be a great way for communicating safety topics — everything from safety tweets that directed subscribers to important safety information to tool-box podcasts, and yet somehow the efforts at building these tools always seem to work better in concept.

I know of a handful of companies that effectively use social networking internally but they are few and far between. Let’s face it, companies have a love hate relationship with social media. Ask human resources a question on your benefits and you will likely get a “It’s on ERMA (or whatever nickname your IT have dubbed your website)” which is corporate speak for “I made a website so I wouldn’t HAVE to talk to the likes of you.”

Most organizations I know love the idea of having a highly collaborative team environment that uses a complex construct of Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, and YouTube to achieve communication synergies. Of course doubt starts to gnaw at them like tooth decay as they worry about how you can control the message once the masses have let the genie out of the bottle and pawed at it with greasy fingers.

The solutions are as comical as they are numerous, and mostly come down to rules. Talk about work, but don’t say bad things about work. Don’t disclose anything sensitive or confidential or that might be seen as sensitive or confidential. Don’t post pictures of you at work.

Companies want workers to preach a unified marketing message to the world but they want them to do it in a way that feels fun, extemporaneous, and spontaneous. They want that guerilla marketing viral clip of a commercial that doesn’t feellike a commercial; they want something that doesn’t exist.

People on the other hand want to feel like self-absorbed celebrities. They want to believe that their “friends” and “followers” give a rip that they had a spinach and goat cheese omelet for breakfast or that they checked in at Applebee’s.

Some of you, heck many of you, are shaking your heads in pity for me. You believe that social media is too big, to ubiquitous to ever die. Maybe you’re right, but if it isn’t dead it’s coughing up blood. And maybe Facebook and LinkedIn and YouTube are so deeply ingrained into our society that they can’t die, but any opportunity we had to make them a useful and cohesive tool for safety has long since gone down for the dirt nap.

Useful piecemeal

All this is not to say that there aren’t still good, albeit isolated uses for some of the social media sites, consider for example the following.

Facebook: So what good is Facebook to the safety professional? Well let’s suppose you have someone who claims to be permanently disabled but you suspect fraud. Many people don’t realize that you can follow someone on Facebook even though they aren’t “friends” with them. Simply checking the allegedly injured worker’s Facebook page will allow you a better glimpse into whether or not the injury is legitimate. If the person supposedly has a bad back and yet has posted pictures of him/herself waterskiing you now have evidence that the injury might be fraudulent. By the same token, if the person keeps posting about doctor’s visits and missing out on fun activity because of his or her injury, it might lend credence to his or her claim. Of course neither of these examples is fool-proof, but you will be surprised and what people will admit to once they are confronted with knowledge you aren’t supposed to have. One tip though: play your cards close to your chest; someone committing fraud will quickly scuttle his or her Facebook account if they think they are caught.

LinkedIn: LinkedIn discussion groups are the single best first stop for many questions you may have about worker safety. You can start a discussion topic that asks a question or for advice on an issue with which you have been struggling. From there dozens of experts (and unfortunately hundreds of loud-mouths) will weigh-in. I don’t think I have ever been disappointed with the discussion thread, although I have had my fair share of frustration with individuals in the groups.

YouTube: You can often find highly entertaining videos that are perfect for use in your safety messaging. The videos that can be used in safety meetings, as icebreakers in safety training, or even as safety moments.

Wikis: Wikis are shared sites that allow people to collaborate on documents. People can add information to a topic, change what’s written there, and generally create a community of documents. A wiki is a great way for people to share lessons learned about safety, post read-across or suggestions, or just better manage a lot of ideas.

Twitter: Twitter isn’t meant to convey a lot of information; instead it is typically used to direct people to a different website and to provide links to important information. Twitter can be useful to alert workers of a safety concern, a change to a procedure, or to provide them with a link to important safety information for your industry.

Blogs: Blogs can be effectively used to share important safety topics, provide links to news stories, and even be an important component of a safety communication campaign. Of course the best blog is but there are some other fantastic sites that are well worth the time and trouble to seek them out.

Creating synergy

Individually each social networking platform has significant limitations, but together you can create a synergistic system where one platform drives traffic to another and facilitates the communication of your message to the right audience at the right time.

Start by determining what you want to accomplish. For example, you might want to alert workers of a serious threat to safety. You can either make simple video and post it to YouTube or post it on a company Wiki (or both). Once you’ve decided where you want the information to reside you will want to drive traffic to that site. Tweeting (sending out a Twitter message) a link to a YouTube video is an excellent way to communicate this information quickly to your followers.

You might also want to direct traffic to an interesting article in a LinkedIn discussion group using Twitter; really doesn’t matter how you direct the flow of information the key is that you direct safety information so that people can get it when they need to.

Social networking if used properly can be a very effective and useful tool not only for making safety more efficient, but for making your business overall more efficient. But be forewarned: if done poorly your attempts to use social networking as a business tool not only will fail, it will also impede any further attempts to create a viable communication network.

I started this article asking the question, ”Is social media dead?” and I would end it with this statement, social media isn’t dead, but it has morphed into something else, something more powerful and if you aren’t afraid to loosen the control of the message you may just achieve great things. Then again you might just use it to share pictures of kittens.

Author: Karthik B; Orion Transcenders. Bangalore.

Lives in Bangalore. HESS Professional of 30+ yrs experience. Global Exposure in 4 continents of over 22 years in implementation of Health, Environment, Safety, Sustainability. First batch of Environmental Engineers from 1985 Batch. Qualified for implementing Lean, 6Sigma, HR best practices integrating them in to HESS as value add to business.

4 thoughts on “Social Media; Is it of any use to EHS Folks!?”

  1. Great articles to be read by everyone.
    Can we discuss on how ESH professionals can connect with CSR activities and can do projects which can impact community level


  2. Deepa,
    Thanks for the words. Appreciated. U may cross post in your SM domain for others to read.

    As for EHS folks engagement to CSR, I would think the expanding gambit of EHS covers CSR as one of area under EHS. I recollect we working as part of CSR focusing on Green initiatives, Energy Management and linkage to clean green aspects at project design stage. The community outreach can be thro Social impact program like educational support, Human Rights in supply chain.

    I am personally very clear (despite being qualified Environmental Engineer as well ) nothing comes first before saving and well being of human lives for whom we are responsible !! Do that well as religiously as possible, rest follow. Failing in that and doing everything else well in the name of Environment, CSR etc etc etc would lead organization to nowhere !!!! EOD!!!


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