By Steve Williams – BCarm
Let’s start with the fact that the H&S Management process has some inherent challenges…
- The need for an audit trail to demonstrate compliance and for claims defensibility.
- It’s made up of many ongoing activities which involve many different components.
- It requires Engagement at every level of an organisation, to which there may be varying degrees of buy-in.
- Its reliance on Lag Metrics, such as accident statistics as a performance measure, makes it harder to act proactively.
- And, if you do it well, what have you got to show for it!
Suppose the Safety management system is hard to access, complicated or difficult to use and needs more visibility. In that case, this can lead, inadvertently, to poor or inadequate records, lower levels of safety activity, and lack of Engagement and accountability. At the same time, it could also add to operational cost through increased input to achieve the desired outcome.
A risk management system that, by its operation, impacts the organisation’s ability to engage with and manage its risk exposures is part of the problem and not the solution.
So can a digital health and safety management system be the solution?
Looking at the flip side of this, what if the management system could;
- Eliminate paper-based records, which by their nature can degrade.
- Reduce the number of process steps – makes it easier to engage a broader population in the business.
- Provide easy access for those who need to interact with it, for instance, completing a checklist or delivering a Toolbox Talk.
- Create visibility of what is or isn’t being done and how well the organisation complies with its own H&S requirements.
- Produce lead and lag performance metrics, the former enabling the proactive management of risk.
- Deliver Management Information & Reporting, particularly MI, that helps business leaders make informed data-based decisions.
- Reduce administrative time, allowing more time for management and analysis.
- Make it possible to raise engagement and participation throughout the business in H&S activity.
- Reduce the overall operational friction and cost of health and safety in the business.
These are all deliverables of BCarm’s cloud-based digital Health and Safety Management System.
So, where is the Health and Safety Community on the path to digital transformation?
In our recent industry-wide survey on the Digitisation of Health and Safety, we learnt that only 5% had gone digital, the rest being paper-based, electronic or a combination of both.
Interestingly, 80% of businesses are discussing it now or plan to do so in the next 12 months.
So given the challenges, can digitisation make a difference? The answer is most certainly yes, provided we are talking about a digital management system, not just digital records.
Here’s how and why a digital risk management system can address this;
- A system will replicate your organisational structure allowing access to be defined and management information to be interrogated by business area – this gives you your KPI Performance Data.
- An audit trail is created with every action within the system automatically and interrogate-able (time saved on auditing activity can be re-focused in management activity).
- Increased accessibility – accessible both onsite and remotely.
- Multiple individuals can access the system with different permissions and access levels, allowing broader Engagement in the safety process.
- A system will schedule, manage and create visibility of ongoing activity, allowing the process to become “how we do things around here”.
- Management alerts can send out notifications when pre-set events occur/don’t occur. This instant visibility creates the opportunity for a management response – “this is important to us”.
- Process steps can be removed, reducing organisational friction and cost – anecdotally £150-250 per employee per annum.
- Lead performance metrics can allow proactive management of risks.
So, can digitalisation make a difference?
The answer is most certainly yes. It provides a robust platform to build culture and behaviour and addresses many inherent challenges within the safety process. But, and it’s a big but, implementation and engagement are absolutely critical.
More information about digitising Health and Safety.
If you’re interested in finding out more, you can read how one company embarked on digitising its Health and Safety process here.