Technology: Wait, there’s more “stuff” that you don’t have easy access to!
A Safety Officer’s workplace is often a nightmare of folders, disorganised paperwork, papers, folders and more folders; mixed with checklists, spreadsheets and templates.
Action OHS Consulting is often engaged to undertake safety audits. The nervous Safety Officer that greets us is not an irregularity. Whilst there is no need to be nervous – I get it. Folders for incidents, folders for chemicals, folders full of meeting and training records, spreadsheets acting as risk registers, contractor registers and incident registers partly in Excel with the other part in either Word or Access, not to mention email chain after email chain. This form of management often means that in addition to the desktop audit, we are also engaged to visit multiple sites to “verify” safety performance.
This form of management, to the surprise of the client, regularly leads to gaps in the implementation of the Safety Management Plan that are only picked up when we are on-site. Whilst the client will continue to unsuccessfully search for the requested safety record, is this gap due to the safety record being misplaced, lost, or not completed – we will never know.
There has to be an easier way – and there is. With technology advancing, cloud and web-based solutions are becoming more relevant and accessible.
Cloud based software provides a more efficient and transparent way of working. Automated reminders and remote visibility of implementation, the days of the Safety Officer having to be on-site to “influence” safety is quickly disappearing. Influencing safety is about impacting behaviours and empowering site management to talk and manage safety ongoing. It is about understanding the ‘pain points’ associated with the implementation of your workplace’s health and safety system, with a view to continuously improve these. If a Safety Officer “needs” to be on-site for “safety to happen”; the issue is not safety; it is the knowledge and/or skills of your workplace managers.
The endless nightmare of paper files, or records stored on hard drives, shared over email – restricts the Safety Officer to do their job. It restricts the Safety Officer’s ability to access information to verify and monitor performance when they are not at the workplace. It moves their role from being a safety leader or coach, to a safety compliance officer. It restricts their ability to influence which limits their ability to improve safety performance.
From our experience, it is obvious that most businesses are keen to take a step forward…some, however, are unsure how to.
Setting up a system that facilitates remote access to workplace specific information such as: incident records and registers; programmed tasks or events; chemical registers; and, maintenance or contractor registers, will allows the Safety Officer to monitor, gather knowledge, and then influence. If the system can also guide your workplace stakeholders of “what they need to do” by email or text message – surely this only makes implementation of your safety system more easy.
With technology progressing, change is imminent and now is an opportune time to consider if you want to lead or follow.
If you are looking to head down the technology pathway, before you start the conversation with providers, take some time to identify what “you want” from a cloud based software system. Consider your current stressors and pain points. Identify your “not negotiables” and “it would be nice if it could”. Be aware that you will be dealing with businesses that have a commercial interest in your decision, meaning that there is a lot of “slick” marketing out there designed to confuse and convince you that their option is the only fit for you. Start the conversation. Ask questions. Ask alot of questions, making sure you think about who you are dealing with. For example, are you dealing with a software company that is knowledgeable about software? Or, a safety focused company that is knowledgeable about software and safety?
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