24th September, 2020
Software helps us in many aspects of our lives. In the office, computers are getting more powerful each year. Out on site, many of us carry around smartphones and tablets. We're better connected with more online tools to choose from than ever before. Let's use software to improve health and safety.
Of course, we would write this post. We're HASpod. We are online health and safety software. And we know about (and believe in) the benefits of health and safety software. But when I first started working in the construction industry, I worked for a small business that hadn't fully embraced technology. Not many companies had at that time. Yes, we had computers in the office. But out on the sites, most things were still done by hand, and there was a big paperwork problem.
But each year the world gets more and more reliant on technology. And whether you agree or not, there's no doubt that all industries need to tech-up. From clients demanding online bidding, to certifications and applications becoming online only. Tech helps us communicate quicker, analyse data, and keep records, far more effectively than any paper-based system.
I'm even writing this post using an online service to check my spelling and grammar. It lets me know if I make any mistakes. So if you spot a problem, don't blame me, blame Grammarly! And this post then gets uploaded on the internet where it can reach far more people than if I had handwritten it and passed it around to people I know.
But back to the subject of this post, health and safety. Health and safety software isn't going to create a positive health and safety culture on its own. We can't implant chips into your team members brains and prevent them from taking risks (yet?!). And I'm not sure that we would want to. But you can use health and safety software to make things easier, faster and smarter. From delivering information to collecting records, and everything in between.
Remember when you would have to phone someone to reach them quickly. And if they were out of the office, you could leave a message and wait for them to call back. And hopefully, you wouldn't be out of the office when they did, otherwise, they could leave a message. And so on. Luckily, I didn't enter the workplace until after most people had mobile phones because that sounds like some kind of hell to me.
Every smartphone has email software so you can pick up important messages and files when you are out of the office. And now we use text messages and messaging software more than phone calls. This might not be great for your work-life balance. But it is good for health and safety. If we need to check in on lone workers, or send someone a risk assessment to review. We can, at the click of a button.
Communication is important in health and safety. And not only can software make communication faster, but also better. Ever tried to explain something over the phone to someone? Or even write it down. Well, a picture paints a thousand words, so the saying goes. And it's true.
Now that most of us have access to a camera at all times, on our mobile phone, we can just snap a photo of the problem or a hazard on a site and use file-sharing software like Dropbox or Google Drive (or one of many other providers) to send it to whoever needs to know. You can even upload photos directly onto your health and safety documents.
And speaking of health and safety paperwork, now that you're not forced to write out every risk assessment by hand, using pen and paper, you can create your documents so much quicker. This helps you improve health and safety because you can spend more time on the things that matter, like assessing and controlling risk, and less time on the things that don't, like writing out the same things over and over again by hand.
If you have ever worked on multiple sites, you will know how collecting records from each site and storing them can be, a bit of a pain! First, if you need access to records on one site when you're in the office or on another site, you need to get them sent across. Before we had email and file-sharing software, this would mean a trip in the car or the postal service.
Now we can scan and send records. We can store them in the cloud. We can even create our health and safety records, documents, and results online. So you don't need to worry about losing paperwork again. It's all backed up, and available at the click of a button.
When it's easy to access health and safety information, you can better comply with your legal health and safety responsibility to provide information, instruction and training.
...the provision of such information, instruction, training and supervision as is necessary to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health and safety at work of his employees.
No more having to get your team back to the office, or take them off-site. Yes, you will still want to do this for bigger more detailed training courses. But for a quick toolbox talk, or a short health and safety awareness course, you can use the power of the internet, to save time (and money). And with easier access, health and safety can become more of a daily thing, rather than a once-a-week or once-in-a-blue-moon thing. And regular refreshers means better health and safety.
If Google shows us anything, it's that computers are good at searching for things. Really good. So, how can we put this to use in health and safety? Well, we often need to know who has done what, and when. Like, who's on what site, when we do our fire drills? Who has what health and safety training, for when we are choosing people for a high-risk task? Who has the right experience, for supervisor or management roles? Do we have a COSHH assessment, for safely using a hazardous substance?
Sure, we could head over to the filing cabinet and hope that the right piece of paper has been put in the right place. But using software to organise our records, we can search and get the answer in milliseconds.
And when you have your records at the click of your fingers (or mouse in this case), you can see patterns in your data that might otherwise go unnoticed. You can see what questions are being asked, what training is missing, what accidents are happing, what near misses keep occurring, what sites are performing well, which ones aren't. You can learn lessons, make changes and keep improving health and safety in your business.
How can you use software to improve health and safety in your business? If you need help getting started, check out the Free Plan right here on HASpod.
This article was written by Emma at HASpod. Emma has over 10 years experience in health and safety and BSc (Hons) Construction Management. She is NEBOSH qualified and Tech IOSH.
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