Having a robust paper trail has always been important within health and safety. Whether it be incidents recorded in an accident book, risk assessments and audits documented, or training records kept (to name but a few). A key driver has always been that in the event of a major incident or a visit from the HSE, an organisation can demonstrate their compliance.
Traditionally, that paper trail has been transferred to Excel spreadsheets to enable health and safety teams to report on the data collected and measure performance. The number and type of incidents, or downtime because of an incident, are examples of a few lagging indicators often reported.
Software to manage safety data and its processes has been around for a long time. In fact, our Info Exchange software celebrates its 20-year anniversary this year. Those early adopters of software decided to move their paperwork from inside of a filing cabinet to a computer, to make their teams more efficient and have a robust document process.
Although those benefits are still valid today, digital technology is driving health and safety teams to consider how they collect more data and harness that data to find new ways to improve safety performance.
The wide use of technology by all generations, such as mobile phones and tablets, is enabling health and safety teams to collect more data with greater ease. The greater collection is enabling a more proactive approach, shifting from recording incidents post-event in an accident book to reporting near misses and unsafe acts, as and when things happen, allowing health and safety teams to act before an incident takes place.
Technology is enabling organisations to improve their safety culture and put responsibility for safety in the hands of the worker. The use of augmented reality for safety training, wearables for health monitoring, and mobile applications to report near misses in an easy and ‘social’ mode, is further educating workers on the importance of a safety first culture.
Predictive analytics, AI and Industry 4.0 are now buzzwords in the industry. Health and safety professionals are now considering how they can convert their safety data into actionable trends, insights and conclusions that will help predict and prevent accidents from happening.
Many businesses have difficulty in making sense of the data they have, and this can be for two reasons:
The quality of data an organisation has historically kept across disparate systems
Having the right people, skills and technology to analyse the data in a meaningful and timely manner.
How does implementing health and safety software help with effective data management?
An important aspect of data quality is that it is collected consistently. Software provides not only a standardised way of reporting (e.g. one version of an incident reporting form), it enables key data fields to be recorded in a consistent manner, limiting free text through the use of mandatory fields and drop-down selections. Dynamic and conditional forms also enable the ability to ask for further data based on an answer given without the need to display to all. This functionality not only encourages the users to complete the form correctly, it makes it easy for them to do so, encouraging them to record more data.
Eliminating data silos and having all of your data on one platform provides a single source of truth. Health and safety software will enable organisations to record the majority of their data on one integrated platform. This makes data sourcing for analysis and cross-correlation much easier and avoids missing data sets.
Health and safety software is available anytime and anywhere. Providers will offer functionality, such as offline and remote forms and mobile applications, to make it easy for users to not only record data, but most importantly, do so as and when things happen, making sure all information is recorded and nothing is overlooked.
Lastly, the reporting capabilities, such as customisable reports and dashboards within health and safety software, are a great starting point for those within the industry who are only getting started on their data journey. As you build your data and capabilities to enable predictive analysis, health and safety software will allow you to analyse your data and identify trends in a meaningful and timely manner to improve performance.
If you’re interested in learning more about health and safety software and how it could benefit your organisation, download our Doing Safety Digitally guide for practical advice and tips.