Coming from a “Tech Geek” that’s a bit of an odd title. When I say “Tech Geek” I’m talking about the type of person that loves new techy gadgets, the guy that finds himself buying the latest device or software just because…
And don’t get me wrong, technology is moving at an insane rate right now, people are talking about “Killing Robots” which puts a whole new dimension on the whole world scene. The weird and wonderful imaginations that were once consigned to the limits of Sci-Fi or James Bond films, are now becoming a worrying reality.
There’s no question that technology has a firmly established place in our society, and the correct tools in the correct context have seen huge shifts in efficiency and effectiveness that we would never have got without it. Think motor vehicles, for example. It was only just over 100 years ago that motor cars started to replace the traditional horse and cart method. Now we’re looking at fully autonomous vehicles being available in the next few years, an advancement that has developed significantly only in recent years.
But Health & Safety seems to be different for some reason.
Health & Safety is a sector of the market that has certainly developed rapidly and, dare I say it, restrictively over the years. A sector that is now steeped in red tape and has a reputation of clogging up processes in the name of “keeping people safe”, which when unraveled actually translates as “protecting my own back, so when something hits the fan, I can point to the paperwork and prove I did my bit”.
So with such huge advances being made in technology and processes, why has the Health & Safety sector been so slow to adopt new methods which utilise the latest technology? There’s no shortage of tech firms now that have sprung up to offer the latest and greatest quick fixes, with promises of efficiency and time saving.
Why in some areas are accidents and injuries actually either leveling off or even increasing? Because Health & Safety is still an intensely personal role which involves communicating with the people we are trying to keep safe.
Health & Safety is still an intensely personal role which involves communicating with the people we are trying to keep safe.
You simply can’t get away from this. And that’s the problem with technology, it is intensely impersonal! Think about it, technology is designed to extinguish the personal touch, isn’t it?
So with the introduction of Excel and Word and then more advanced systems has come an increased distance between management and shop floor, by virtue of the fact that you have to be at your computer to do a lot of your work, and you simply cannot do Health & Safety from the comfort and warmth of your cosy little office.
That, in my humble opinion, is why the tech companies are struggling to crack this sector, because unlike other sectors where it’s often preferable to reduce manpower and work with condensed resources, we’re still dealing with live human beings and we need interaction to work together successfully.
So before you condemn and consign an existing system to the bin, or even embark on installing new technology to improve your Health & Safety process, my suggestion would be to look internally first. Ask yourself what is the current culture like? Is communication free-flowing between employees? Does management interact with the shop-floor?
Because if these elements are not in place, few systems will be able to work effectively.