The following excerpt is a summary of a presentation by Adrian Manessis at the RIU Conference in Perth Western Australia.
What is Success?
A successful computerised system will allow you to improve safety performance by enabling process improvement. A side benefit is that it will save you time and money by automating many of the tasks you currently do manually.
Before we define what is required to implement a successful computerised OSH solution we need to state what we consider to be success.
First generation computerised OSH systems focused on collecting information for reporting purposes and automating what is currently done manually. This can save time and money but will not see improvements in safety performance. By improvement in safety performance I mean the reduction or complete elimination of all injuries in the work force.
Advances in technology can assist companies to go a step further than simply saving time and money. Computerised safety systems can also be used to improve safety performance.
A successful implementation will enable you to do the things you currently don’t do at all and to more effectively do the things you don’t do well.
When evaluating a computerised OSH solution you need to ask the question will it facilitate process improvement.
All people need access to the system
All people need to know how to protect themselves and know their obligations.
A good safety system will revolve around actions, hazard analysis and access to information.
We want to be in a position where people know what is required of them, know how to protect themselves and know what their obligations are. i.e access to knowledge. Contribute to the knowledge pool.
Identifying the problems first is hazard identification. It is important you place emphasis on proactively finding problems, prioritising what gets fixed and ensuring Hazards and their impacts can be measured and reviewed on an ongoing basis
Before we can fix problems we need to know what to fix first. Which problems are important and which have low importance.
How you identify your hazards and then analyse those hazards is critical to improving your safety performance
Identifying hazards needs to become a part of doing the job. A good system must provide everyone with access to report hazards. It must have processes that are designed to identify and manage hazards.
A wise man once said “There is no such thing as an accident. When people get hurt it is people either doing actions they shouldn’t or not doing actions they should”
An automated system can provide people with access to all actions they are responsible for doing.
It can also be used to ensure actions are followed through to completion.
Access, Access, Access
There is no point in putting a system in place if people don’t have access. Open your systems to all employees and contractors. Allow access from as many places as possible. This is where technology can help remove traditional boundaries.
You can have the best automated safety systems in the world. You can spend 100s of thousands of dollars attempting to computerise processes.
This is all for nothing if people cannot access and contribute to that system.
Contractors and employees should be included. Quite often contractors do the majority of the dangerous tasks but have the least access to safety information.
All employees and contractors should have access to information relating to tasks they perform and their associated hazards, safety standards, policies ie all safety information.
AnecdoteOne construction company I visited had an obligations register. They had one of the best systems in the world. They had spent considerable time developing it. It was logical and well constructed. They had spent many hours maintaining it on a monthly basis. Only one person could access it. Their money was wasted.
All people should have access to report hazards through different activities. A good system should encourage hazards to be reported from different activities.
Electronic systems should put more emphasis on pro-actively identifying hazards through every day tasks including risk assessments.
Hazard and risk identification are often treated as a one off workshop activity and not an ongoing task. This means that new hazards and risks not previously identified will impact the business. Tasks, chemicals, equipment should all be risk assessed prior to commencing. Good software will allow you to integrate your hazard register and your risk assessment activities.
Other activities that should identify hazards are workplace inspections, audits and Safety Observations.
Proactive versus Reactive
Most organizations react to problems and their systems focus on fixing what is broken. The 80/20 rule holds true in most cases.
If you spend most of your time on reactive processes then its like manufacturing a car. Not worrying about ensuring it is safe and then implementing a best practice re-call process when people crash their cars due to poor engineering.
AnecdoteCompany I worked for several years ago focused on an accident reporting system. Almost all my time and resources were spent ensuring we had the best automated accident reporting process. 0% of my time and resources were spent on proactive tasks. In other words, we were focusing on waiting for accidents to happen and then making sure they did not happen again as opposed to making sure they did not happen in the first instance.
This is a bit like walking through a mine field without having it cleared first. Once a person is blown up then we fix the hazard by looking for patterns of where the next bomb is likely to be. The next person who walks through the mine field will have a better chance of not being blown up, however it would have been better to clear the field in the first place.
When you reverse the 80/20 rule you are then proactively managing your safety effort.