Occupational health and safety (OHS) stands as a backbone of the working environment and safety documentation. Employee safety is after all the most important aspect of any workplace and fundamental to company success. According to Safe Work Australia somebody is injured roughly every 5 minutes at work in Australia. The same source cites that 190 people were killed at work in 2017, that’s roughly one every 2 days. The majority of these fatalities occur in construction, agriculture and transport & logistics, with 15% from falling, 18% from being hit by moving objects and 63% related to a vehicle. Considering your organisation’s activities, does it not seem imperative to master your safety inspection?
Safety inspection can of course mean different things to different organisations. Whilst it’s always a good idea to use common sense in operating equipment or machinery, there are industries that by law require regulatory checks of asset condition before operation, or routine checks. This highlights the clear need to have top level management and oversight over inspection systems. Whatever the asset or machinery piece, it’s important that the exact operative methods are followed to avoid injury, future damage or failure.
Naomi Kemp, the Safety Institute of Australia Deputy Chair says workers need to take their safety into their own supervision and remain vigilant in constantly changing workplaces. “It’s a mindset. We really need to be considering the risks we’re about to face when we go to work”. Kemp also outlined some key tips for workers and organisations to consider in the interest of their OHS:
- Take care of your health and wellbeing,
- Be part of the solution,
- Watch out for your colleagues and others,
- Have the courage to stop if you feel unsafe,
- And be prepared for risks you may face.
More information is available here.
What can be Done to Best Prevent Workplace Injuries and Fatalities
In order to best prevent workplace injuries and fatalities it is imperative to follow industry safety standards. For OHS, there are numerous versions, but the flagship standard remains ISO 45001. The standard was developed by the International Organization for Standards (ISO) – the leading international standards provider. According to ISO, 45001 is designed to help organisations to reduce the risks in the workplace whilst improving employee safety. By doing this it is possible to create better and safer working conditions that all employees from those on the floor to management can take advantage of. ISO 45001 takes inspiration from other standards such as OHSAS 18001, and allows organisations to fulfil objectives such as:
- Improving the organisation’s ability to respond to regulatory compliance issues,
- Reducing the downtime and costs of disruption to operations,
- Reducing the absenteeism and employee turnover rates,
- Reducing the cost of insurance premiums,
- And reducing the overall costs of incidents.
ISO 45001 is one example of many organisational standards that helps to contribute to better OHS. Other standards like ISO 14001 and ISO 9001 that tackle management system approaches work well with ISO 45001 in integrating with how OHS is managed. Today it is possible to implement technology in the hands of the employees themselves, allowing them to clearly follow, abide by and inspect according to ISO and other industry standards.
As well as abiding by industrial safety operation standards, it’s important to make sure that safety signage is also working within your organisation. For this to be the case, clear and effective signage can follow rules and regulations set out by ISO in the standard ISO 7010. These signs are designed to minimise the need to use text for comprehension, bypassing the need to read as much as possible. This often makes it both easier and faster for employees and customers to understand what safety message is trying to be transferred. Confusion or a lack of comprehension leads to enhanced danger and risk for all those in the area, highlighting the stark importance of effective safety signage. IOS 7010 outlines how graphical symbols, safety colours and safety signs can be designed and prescribes how safety signage can be used to prevent accidents, health hazards or evacuation plans. By using standards such as IOS 7010, it is possible to reduce the confusion of employees/customers whilst increase the effectiveness of safety operations.
How Industry and Organisational OHS Standards can be Managed
Whilst it may seem clear and obvious that ISO and other industrial standards should be a commonplace in industrial organisations, it may not be so simple to know how to manage various regulatory frameworks. Today however, the management of standards has become much more straightforward than the process in the past, modern inspection management makes use of mobile device technology and desktop software.
Employing both a mobile device and a desktop software, paperless inspection systems give the employee the maximum inspection power available in their hand today. Employees can make use of features of any iOS or Android device such as the camera for image capture or barcode/RFID scanning. Speech-to-text services now also available offline allows rapid hands-free data entry whilst automatic GPS timestamps give further data for checklists. The device touchscreen is of course today a rapid tool for text entry but can also be used for image annotations or drawings of issues. Whilst the devices are operating via an internet connection to send reports to a database/management, the data recording itself can often be done offline.
Whilst employees get a potent tool in their hand, management and operations get a desktop-styled software accessible via a web portal. This allow remote but secure access to the database from any browser. Whilst allowing management to view reports and certificates active for inspections, it also gives the opportunity to schedule tasks in the calendar and make strategic timely decisions. Via this system it is also possible to setup automatic corrective actions and proactive triggers and notifications. Together these simply speed up the efficiency of the decision making and information sharing in the organisation. Automatic corrective actions allow deficiencies recorded by inspectors to suggest a corrective action to the device user, with all the correct and required information to rectify the deficiency. Proactive triggers and notifications is the counterpart of the system whereby the software’s engine sends automatic email alerts for the reports recorded by inspectors. This is based around specific criteria set by the user, which allow management to be emailed exactly what they need at the time of recording, or for example a more detailed and comprehensive full report once a week.
Something that both the employee on the shop floor and management can make use of are things such as deficiency life cycle tracking and server hosting. Whether the software and inspection management system is hosted in-house or via cloud solutions, it effectively means the same thing – fast access and less physical storage requirements. The benefit of premium solutions comes in the easy integration with existing business intelligence, corporate networks or ERP systems. The deficiency life cycle tracking system is likewise something accessible for the inspector and management teams. By tracking assets via deficiencies and historical cataloguing of reports, premium paperless inspection solutions can provide a truly cradle-to-grave life cycle. This includes alerts similar to the trigger notifications outlined earlier, but chiefly ensures that all issues are managed and that this management can be recorded historically.
More information is available here.
What types of organisational safety paperless can improve
As the features and functionalities of paperless system that are outlined above tell, digital inspection is both a powerful and adaptable system. The real return on interest (ROI) in such systems comes from the customisation and ability to tailor the package to your organisation’s needs and requirements. Many inspection platforms today will be able to serve your inspection management, asset management quality assurance, compliance or work order needs. Taken together, all of these inspection types can contribute to better and more thorough OHS in your organisation.
A product specifically designed to work in the hands of field technicians, managers, inspectors and auditors can greatly improve the safety recording and prevention in the workplace. Safety improvements will not always come in primary form but may be as a result of other workplace improvements that better the overall business ecosystem. Outcomes of using paperless that can also result in improvements in your safety include:
- Improved productivity
- Comprehensive and tailored analysis
- Improved control and accountability
- Shift in management focus from paper-based activities
- Reduction in operational costs
- Higher technician efficiency
- Better time accuracy
- Real-time reporting
- Better utilisation of organisational resources
- Higher utilisation of organisational expertise
- Compliance with consistency standards in the field
These improvements can of course be leveraged in a host of different fields of application and various industries. These include:
- Amusement Park
- Bulk Materials Handling
- Facility Maintenance
- Oil & Gas
- And many more.
More information is available here.
Why Migrating to Digital OHS is Important
Occupational health and safety is fundamental for any organisation to master in order to know that all employees are working in conditions that are as safe as realistically possible. It is imperative with advancing technology and the increasing use of machinery within many industries that employees understand the nature of safety within a workplace whether that be the operation of these assets or general work. Whilst not all workplaces will require operation within hazardous zones or minding intrinsic safety, it is important to remember that there is always more that can be done to improve OHS as it is no field that stays constant.
Only by moving to digital systems can OHS be effectively manged today and in the future. Digital systems works of systems that employees are familiar in using; mobile devices that are both powerful and productive. Where assets can be tracked and safety regulations added to an inspection system, any inspector can bring all safety regulations, reference material or manuals into the field with them. This means that every piece of necessary and relevant information for any employee should be accessible at all times for them. It is of course almost impossible to provide all of this with paper-based systems and even if this were possible, it would represent a highly cumbersome task.
Paperless systems are hence the obvious choice for organisations looking to take their OHS seriously and give it the best tool possible. Pairing these digital systems with OHS safety standards for both operation and signage gives employees the piece of mind whatever environment they are operating in. For the best injury and fatality prevention, the answer to OHS is digital inspection and management.