If you’re going to carry out any job efficiently you need tools. The right tools.
Anybody who has ever tried to carry out a job with either not enough tools, or not quite the right tools will immediately relate to the frustration of being slowed down and hampered by the inefficiency of being ill-prepared.
Even the smallest tool, a hammer or a screwdriver, can hold an entire project up if it is not made available, showing just how important it is to have the right equipment at the right time for the job on hand.
Some tools never change, or at best they may develop slightly over time. A hammer for example, has essentially remained the same for many years, just a few tweaks here and there to make them slightly more ergonomic, but that’s all. Likewise, some tools radically change or are even made pretty much obsolete, consigned to the area of “The Past” or “Traditional Workmanship”.
Health & Safety is no different.
On the 31st of July 1974, the Health and Safety Commission was formed and the Health and Safety at Work act received royal assent.
It’s fair to say that this was a massive step and one that was going to need some serious management to actually implement and enforce across all companies in the UK. To try and cover all bases for the first time was going to be a real challenge and it would be too much to expect to get this right for the first time.
Some work environments haven’t changed much since the 70’s where others have changed massively. Some jobs that were in existence then are extinct today, just like there are plenty of jobs today in sectors that didn’t exist back then.
Therefore it makes sense that the health and safety processes that we create for our businesses should evolve with the changing times and operations as well as being brought into line with the latest insights and updates that are brought to us by professionals in the industry.
But a closer look at this tells us that despite the rapid development of technology in nearly every other sector, health and safety seems to remain pretty dated in terms of how things are done. People are still getting injured and killed at work and safety processes to try and prevent this are still being done using paper systems, excel spreadsheets and other somewhat time-consuming and arduous systems.
Back in the day spread sheets were an excellent way of recording this type of information, it was neat, orderly, could be searched and most importantly took up no physical room anywhere. However, flaws began to appear in this system because it was one thing to input data and be able to analyse it from an excel file, but scheduling a follow up became another issue. Unless a follow up was manually entered onto whatever calendar system was being used, probabilities were that it would get missed and it was left to chance whether a risk assessment would have an audit date set up.
Whilst some environments are fairly stable in terms of changing risks, some situations are particularly dynamic and need regular monitoring to reassess the ever changing needs. Leaving situations like this to chance is a risky business because the more a situation need to be reassessed, the more likely it is that it will be a higher risk situation. Therefore it makes sense that the correct tools are deployed for this type of challenge.
Similarly for situations that arise unexpectedly such as incidents and accidents. The current reporting method for these situations can be very time consuming and almost prohibitive to the degree where often reports may not even be generated simply because it’s too much hassle. To go and find the accident book, either bring it back to the scene or memorise what, when and who was involved, maybe even try and take pictures from your phone which you will need to remember to upload to the non-related system used to collect all this data, all becomes so arduous and that’s before you re-type up all your findings onto the excel spreadsheet.
Whilst technology is not always the answer, there are certain aspects particularly when it comes to fully mobile, native apps, that fit into this sector perfectly. The correct type of tool in this situation would let you create risk assessments (either custom built or standard), schedule an audit with reminders, allow you to delegate tasks and record incidents in detail in real time, and be available freely for all users
It is certainly a fact that for an established company to introduce a new system of this scale is a daunting task in it’s own right, especially where there are integral systems that are already embedded into a culture. However, if we are to see a reduction in the number of accidents and incidents on site, we need to help health and safety professionals embrace this type of technology in as simple a way as possible.