Within the construction industry, Health and Safety Managers struggle to surveil the various processes and documents that accumulate when reviewing organisational safety management systems. It becomes easy to assume the inaccuracy of reports forgetting to accommodate for faulty integrated data systems. Managers often end up with disjointed data that is hard to translate in real time during evaluation and decision making.
Understanding the impact of the visibility of business data and using integrated safety management software to resolve the challenges faced when trying to pull reports from varying disparate systems becomes detrimental to business performance. When faced with the option of “real” data and statistics, managers and decision-makers are better placed to ask themselves whether they can afford workplace injuries or ill health, and what actions they should take to prevent them.
INTRODUCTION: Understanding A Health and Safety Manager’s Role in the Integration of Safety Management Systems.
Ideally, an effective safety management system must be optimised to eliminate any possibility of safety risks and hazards. Implementing a coherent and effective safety management system goes beyond the construction of occupational safety and health policy programme and planning the process of accident and illness prevention. It takes into account the selection and development of the integrated system allowing for the evaluation of the competency of facilities, operations and equipment.
During the foundations of a Safety Management System, Health and Safety Managers suffer from attempting to monitor the various processes and documents that accumulate during the continuous evaluation of the system’s performance against agreed standards. However, with scattered reports of risk assessments, audits and keeping track of delegated tasks with incompatible management systems, the chances of obtaining inaccurate data increases at the cost of time and effort.
There are two central concepts to the monitoring and prevention of health and safety incidents.
- Active Monitoring;
This is the preventive process that refers to the monitoring of developments, installations and designs, operations of the management systems. Activities often include:
● Staff Members evaluate PPE on a continuous basis.
● Surveillance that is designed to identify potential health risks.
● Inspection regimes to evaluate functional pieces of the plant.
- Reactive Systems;
This is often a monitored response to accidents and incidents by investigating evidence of poor health and safety practices to identify potential improvements to the methods.
● Venturing through the evidence of accidents and incidents.
● Keeping track of previous health absence cases.
Section 1: Managing Safety Risks (Traditional Vs Digital) .
Traditionally, Health and Safety Management systems were initially based on the pursuit of safety in the construction industry. They often commenced by investigating and analysing incidents. Hence, traditional methods of managing safety risks were geared towards reactive systems and were rarely preventive.
The extent to which an organisations auditing depicted a realistic perspective of its current health and safety management performance. This relied heavily on the accuracy, reliability, and validity of its criteria. However, this lead to the increase in tedious paperwork as the organisation sought to continually record detailed information, keeping relevant documentation in the hope that good audit performance could be obtained, and legal compliance would be met (Blewett and O’Keeffe 2011).
The performance of Safety Management Systems (SMS) was the primary focus adopting the assumption that successful SMS and safety practices directly equated to absolute safety. With this assumption, audit criteria were to be extremely specific to evaluate the organisational health and safety systems by ensuring that each safety practice was both present and capable. However, in the analysis of The Gretley Mine Accident, Hopkins (2007), concludes that “experience is now teaching us that safety management systems are not enough to ensure safety” (p 124).
Over the years, the adoption of cloud management and documentation systems have transformed the way in which Health and Safety Managers can efficiently curate accurate data improving the tedious paper trails and methods that are associated with the traditional forms of data management.
Traditionally, organisations hesitated to record immensely detailed audits as they often resulted in tedious paperwork and were primarily costly when it came to data integration. Regardless of whether this occurred in a more realistic evaluation of their performance. However, the Digital approach to data management evades the time-consuming methods of recording, compiling, distributing and integrating data. It allows for the acquisition of a vast amount of data on safety that can be evaluated subsequently. The benefits of higher efficiency and productivity include possible cost reductions of 25 per cent or more in end-to-end credit processes and operational risk, through deeper automation and analytics McKinsey & Company (2018).
Additionally, cloud data management allows for the accurate re-evaluating identifying possible correlations and trends that may increase the chances of workplace accidents/tool malfunctions. Any incorrect or misused practices can be immediately detected remotely. Results derived from the accounted data relevant to a specific point in time are available without having to expect them after days/weeks.
Section 2: Determining the Cost of Disjointed Data.
Four Principles of Effective Data Management Systems.
Data should be:
➢ Documented only once.
➢ Immediately available.
➢ Available company-wide to relevant employees.
➢ Displayed on a single application or interface.
Steps To Determining the Cost Of Disjointed Data
1. Review and Analyse Potential Problem
By implementing a feasibility study, investigating the deficiencies in the current data integration structure and testing them against the initial criteria and goals, it is easier to construct a systematic approach to intercept the current issues. The results obtained should ideally improve the management’s ability to navigate preceding steps when advancing the system, ie.
● What personnel, training practices and technical assets are currently in place and which resources are needed to improve the structure?
● How long does it take to collate data from these disparate systems,?
● How much data is left out because it’s too much hassle to retrieve?
● Are you managing information in multiple locations?
2. Defining in broad terms a computer-based solution or other
Following systems analysis, it is substantial to develop an accurate problem statement, outlining in broad terms the computer-based solution that may be compatible. Ideally, a problem statement helps narrow down on undiscovered needs. Hence, it should be:
User-centric; focusing on making the role as a Health and Safety Manager efficient and effective without having to dedicate excess effort.
Broadly defined; a problem statement shouldn’t outline specific technical requirements or focus on a unique approach to resolving the problem.
Manageable; Constraints and criteria be set to narrow enough to make the project manageable.
3. Identifying the Cost of the Management System
The adoption of a new and integrated system naturally generates substantial and intangible expenditures. Tangible expenses associated with inventories are requisite when augmenting or replacing the old methods. However, intangible costs may appear in the form of efficiency, time spent on user-training, and organisational culture and workflow changes.
Tangible Costs: The Cost-Benefit Analysis allows for the direct comparison of material expenses during decision making. Possible solutions are refined by assessing the profits of the new solution against the initial expenses and ongoing costs. By assigning monetary values to these benefits, determining the merit of an advantage becomes effective and effortless.
Intangible Costs: Evaluating the intangible costs is often difficult as they are associated with attitudes and perceptions and measured with varying methods. It becomes increasingly difficult for Health and Safety Managers to be critical and honest about the fissures within the systems. Indexing intangible items and encouraging the respondents to disagree or agree on a five-point scale can be used to quantify the benefits of intangible expenses. Additional methods can be implemented to ease the effects of unpredicted liabilities such as user acceptance testing, parallel running, and user training.
4. A management report with the selected course of action.
Documenting a comprehensive plan is defining the project scope, analysing potential weaknesses and strengths and evaluating the economic, operational and human factors that affect possible progress determines the possibilities of a management systems success. A practical project scope should specify the goals, key personnel, resources, budgets, phases and timelines in detail. In turn, intercepting any chance of unprecedented issues arising.
Section 3: The Digital Approach.
Reason #1 – Cost Reductions
The estimated expenses of the processing and integration of various data forms on different platforms are often hidden behind the mask of initial individual costs. Hence, incorporating a digital data control system reduces the joint expenditures of auditing, user training, injury, and information management software as only one solution applies to all.
Reason #2 – Cost Avoidance
The advancements in cloud data handling systems, machine learning tools, and analytics allow for accurate real-time processing, reporting, and monitoring methods. Successively, this eases the initial integration of informational sources aids in the efficient evaluation of potential credit threats, decisions and monitoring the overall risk management process.
Reason #3 – Increased Productivity
Strategic digital technologies are considered as essential enablers of productivity and better services [Eurostat, 2016]. A digitalised management strategy optimises the effort and time taken when carrying out tasks with flexibility, efficiency, and functionality regardless of the amount of information processed. The organisation’s decision-making process when determining the adaptation and responses to external stimuli and internal demands become more calculated and fluid.
Section 4: Implementing Safety Management Data Integrated System
1. Define and document current integration challenges and priorities
Following the completion of a detailed management report, it is essential that the problems and priorities be outlined and discussed with the service provider. Understanding the maximum and current capacity of data that may require processing and the appropriate situations is essential. With a better understanding, a tailored approach can be devised to tackle these recurring issues directly.
2. Determine the appropriate integration design.
A common misconception when implementing new information systems is that the implementation itself will aid in an improved approach. Unfortunately, that is rarely applicable. The full benefits are obtained when the organisation is aware of the full capability of the software and grasping the relevant frameworks. A simple integration system designed to target the deficiencies within the current process is detrimental to the succession of the new solution. It is essential to consider:
○ Whether a one-way or two-way integration interface is applicable.
○ A suitable interface medium (keep in mind –
○ The checkpoints put in place to effectively monitor and control the process.
○ The security policies and measures are taken to ensure data protection.
3. Implementing the integrated data system
The primary goal is to continually work to provide actionable and time efficient processes to ensure they are carried out accurately each time. A departmental General Management Acceleration Programme must be developed to ensure a continuous system of report and analysis. An integrated data management system should ideally allow for:
● The creation of risk assessments, audits and any other type of document utilising a versatile Template Management system.
● The implementation or delegation of tasks to variant users or contractors logged into the system until they are closed out.
● Allow for the operation of multiple projects at multiple sites, stock control, record keeping and ad-hoc spending.
A follow up with the service provider may be beneficial a few months following the initial implementation to ensure that the maximum benefits are realised and to gain insight on best practices that could be incorporated to better adjust to unanticipated changes.
Section 5: Business Performance; Implications of Disjointed Data Systems.
The consideration of the scope and scale of costs (or even potential costs) of disjointed data when considered on an organisational level determines the management’s ability to deduce relevant and practical solutions on resourcing and implementing directly integrated health and safety management. Ultimately, overcoming common limitations that may arise.
In the construction industry, heightened awareness is crucial when determining the recurring accidents, illnesses and incidents within surrounding organisations as well as their own. The effects of presentation expenses are miniscule in comparison to relevant trends, evidence and statistics. However, the underlying limitations often remain unidentified until it is too late. Hence it is essential to evaluate the competence of a safety management system and its effect on the subsequent;
Customer’s experience – An organisation’s success is determined by the level of customer satisfaction and experience. Unfortunately, when injured employees are a result of unsafe conditions, an organisation’s ability to adequately fulfil customers’ demands becomes difficult. Maintaining customers becomes unrealistic as they cannot be expected to do without or wait for their orders.
Ideal Clients – Certain clients have a much more significant impact on your profits than others, these are called ideal clients. These clients invest in the company more than the service itself, taking into consideration the mission, values and ethics of the business. With an inaccurate safety management system, these clients might be harder to come by due to the misinterpretation of ethics.
Company Reputation- A company’s reputation determines the level of safety and security that the outside world assumes concerning the organisation. According to research undertaken by the HSE, an estimated 43’000 cases arise each year from employees falling from a height. With inaccurate data and derived trends, it becomes increasingly difficult to resolve safety risks and hazards, ultimately increasing the detriment of the brand’s reputation. Hence, though it is realistically unachievable, there must be an internalised culture to make every customer and employee a raving fan.
Incentives Alignment – An organisation is composed of three core structures, the people, the task and the technology. Hence, it is essential to understand that when employees are valued and taken care of, it builds a foundation of loyalty and motivation in such a way that the succession of an employee’s needs is directly associated with the completion of organisational goals. In practical terms, promoting a friendly workplace culture, decrease absenteeism, attracting and sustaining industry top talent.
Culture – Effective operational management systems create an empowering workplace culture that allows its employees to thrive. Unfortunately, the efficiency of Safety Management is not an exception, creating an environment that considers, encourages and implements safety precautions and improvement is essential. Instead of having a segmented approach to safety management, the values are integrated with colleagues to promote team spirit.
Time Management Evaluations – It is crucial to objectively evaluate your current system to identify time-consuming tasks and tools that can automate these tasks. Time becomes an expense when ineffective systems are implemented, increasing work hours and wages. Calculating the potential money saved on hours spent on tedious data integration tasks when multiplied by the number of your employees can help monetise the cost of an ineffective information management system
Revenue – By taking into consideration that employee wages are constituted as investments, it is essential to understand that by inputting permanent data integration tasks allows your employees to work the same amount of hours and lessen the potential loss of revenue due to their inefficiency.
Unisaas is a cloud-based Safety Management Software designed to effectively manage Health & Safety, Assets, Contractors, Projects and much more. Our software allows real-time, detailed reporting and empowers your entire organisation to share ownership of business processes. It will enable real-time, accurate reporting & empowers your whole organisation to share ownership of business processes where all your statistics and data can be viewed on one page thanks to an interactive map, which zooms into the floorplans of every site.
Our team of experts work closely with our clients, internalising your needs and exploring suitable solutions. They create a detailed specification & work hard to tailor the software to the day to day needs of your unique business. Here at Unisaas, we prioritise functionality, efficiency, adaptability and user acceptance.
Find out more at: https://unisaas.co.uk/
Contact us: Unisaas Ltd, Kemp House, 160 City Road, London, EC1V 2NX
Blewett, V. and O’Keeffe, V. (2011). Weighing the pig never made it heavier: Auditing OHS, social auditing as verification of process in Australia. Adelaide.
Hopkins, A. (2007). Lessons from Gretley.
McKinsey & Company. (2018). Digital risk: Transforming risk management for the 2020s. [online] Available at: https://www.mckinsey.com/business-functions/risk/our-insights/digital-risk-transforming-risk-management-for-the-2020s [Accessed 10 Jul. 2018].
Eurostat (2016). Cloud computing – statistics on the use by enterprises. [online] Available at: http://ec.europa.eu/eurostat/statistics-explained/index.php?title=Cloud_computing_-_statistics_on_the_use_by_enterprises#Factors_preventing_enterprises_from_using_cloud_computing_.282014_survey.29 [Accessed 17 Jul. 2018].