All of us use technology to enhance our everyday lives. Our lives have been made easier in recent years by advanced technology that is capable of accessing information faster and managing it smarter. It has revolutionized every industry and area of business, from retail, banking, and finance, to media, entertainment, and communications.
But you could say that the management of safety information is one of the last areas of business to go through this technology transformation. Here are some examples of what can be achieved when safety professionals stop holding out and start adopting online tools and platforms to improve their performance.
Enrollment and Orientation
For personnel, safety starts with enrollment and orientation (for more, see 9 Topics Every Employee Orientation Should Cover). Moving this process online means they can complete their enrollment and orientation anywhere, even off-site prior to starting.
It also provides your company an easy and efficient way to house, access, and monitor all important and necessary personnel or subcontractor information, including records of their licenses, qualifications, training, and insurance.
Safety Observations and Hazards
Observing and reporting hazards is how safety happens at the front lines (learn How to Encourage Employees to Report Workplace Hazards). Moving your management of safety observations online makes the whole process simple. All you need to do is take a photo, assign the party responsible to fix the issue, make a note, set a deadline, and send—all using the same device.
And it's not just more convenient; it's also far more effective. From the moment the hazard is identified, the responsible party is immediately made aware, given all the relevant information, and can automatically document progress and report instantly.
Keeping equipment in check while on site keeps surrounding workers safe. Managing equipment online helps make your work site safer by standardizing the safety checklists for bringing equipment on site; tracking what equipment is where; and managing hours, service information, and who on site is licensed to operate what equipment.
Moving job hazard analysis (JHA) online is essentially keeping a library of important on-site documents accessible, right where you need them: on the shop floor, at the work site, and wherever else you do your job. It's an easy way to keep track of who has submitted what, when it was signed by personnel, and when management approved it.
Online JHA management also simplifies the management of version control.
Online permit management means replacing the permits whiteboard with a real-time, digital permit board. This allows everyone on site to understand what type of permit has been approved for which area, along with the time-frames associated with those permits. It also means pre-start and close-out checklists are completed by the permit holder and reported automatically.
Injury and Incident
Communication is important, and never more so than during an emergency. Managing personnel information online means having a way to instantly communicate with everyone on site.
From toolbox talks to pre-start meetings, managing meetings online makes it simple to keep on-site records of when meetings were held, what was covered (with set agendas, including attachments), and with sign-off by the attendees.
Submit daily reports instantly, from anywhere, with photos to support your notes recording daily progress. Other reporting aspects such as hours, injury, incident, new personnel on site, and new equipment on site can be automatically added to the daily report.
Real-Time Decision Making
Traditionally, computer use was limited to those with a desk job in the site office. With the emergence of smartphone technology, combined with the proliferation and availability of high-speed mobile networks, it’s now possible to connect everyone who is on site, creating a real-time information culture and providing an avenue to improve communication, processes, and data integrity.
Comparing online safety management to paper management is like comparing a Google search to rifling through a filling cabinet. Google gets you the information you want, from any device, anywhere, instantly. A filing cabinet not only requires you to invest time in filing documents and then searching for the ones you need, it also restricts access (see also 5 Reasons to Go Paperless with Your Workplace Health & Safety).
Using analog tools to manage enrollment, orientation, JHA’s, hazard report, equipment, and permits exposes a range of inefficiencies and quality of information and speed issues.
This is compounded by issues caused by human error, in particular the way it affects data integrity. The potential for altered, lost, misplaced, or illegible paper records is another issue that may be problematic if they are relied on in an audit or incident investigation (to learn the distinction, see What Is the Difference Between a Safety Audit and a Specific Investigation?).
When it comes to the safety and well-being of your workers, it's important never to settle for inefficient and ineffective methods. There is simply too much on the line not to update your approach with online tools and platforms.