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The Secret to Streamlined Safety Compliance

July 24, 2015
The world of safety and compliance has changed drastically over the past few years, and that pace of change is only getting faster.

Let’s face it, the world as we know it is changing. For the most part, that’s a very good thing. As health and safety professionals, one way that we see these changes is in increasing regulatory pressures.

As an example, as of January 2015, OSHA has increased pressure on U.S.-based businesses regarding reporting of workplace incidents. The new requirements include a requirement to report work-related fatalities within eight hours and any severe work-related injuries within 24 hours.

Ultimately, these changing regulations are a good thing. But the question that’s in the minds of businesses across America is “How can I keep up with these changing regulations and do it in a way that isn’t disruptive to my business?”

After all, safety isn’t just about the human tragedies that can accompany workplace safety incidents; there is a significant financial cost to noncompliance as well. Fines for noncompliance with these regulations can run into millions of dollars in the most severe cases.

The answers to these questions aren’t simple. However, there is one initial step that can benefit nearly every company concerned about health and safety compliance: Take a look at what’s new in software tools and systems for health and safety management.

The famed technology investor Mark Andreesen has been saying for years that software is eating the world. His view is that software is making our collective lives easier, across the board, by streamlining and in some cases eliminating mundane and repeatable tasks.

The EHS world is no different. Software tools in this space are designed to help safety professionals do their jobs more efficiently. One side effect of this is that spending less time on repeatable tasks can free up time to do “other” work such as proactive investigation and analysis that goes beyond simply complying with regulations, and drives real improvements in how a company is run.

Here are the top four ways that EHS software could help you better manage health and safety compliance:

More data, and better data

The first step in answering any question is gathering facts. It’s like an old detective story. Collect as much information about the incident that happened before jumping to any conclusions. The more data you’re able to gather about an incident (or a near-miss), the more evidence you will have to base any decisions on.

That’s where software tools really begin to shine. Are you still tracking your incidents with paper or through spreadsheets? How easy is it to really dig into and explore that data? By moving all that valuable (but hidden) data into a purpose built safety database, you’ll be taking a giant leap forward in your ability to stay compliant.

Track incidents where they happen and when

Health and safety incidents don’t always happen near a computer. In fact I’d bet they rarely happen near a computer. These days though, almost all of us have access to a smart phone or tablet device. Modern health and safety software tools allow employees to use these always-with-us gadgets to log safety incidents where and when they occur.

Being able to make note of what happened, when it happens, is a great way to ensure quality and accuracy in your data.

Workflows for accountability and transparency

Once you’ve gotten a better handle on data, software tools can help you use it far more efficiently. These tools will help you manage and distribute that data easier than ever before.

Do certain people or parts of the company need to be made aware of an incident? Done. Automated workflows can make sure that anyone who needs to know about an incident will know about it, including regulatory bodies.

Do certain people in the company need to sign off on decisions before action take place? Again, automated workflows can help here. It’s not just about keeping track of what happens, safety is just as much about making sure everyone is aware of what happened when they need to know about it. This creates accountability through awareness.

Data-driven decision making

It happened to the world of finance and it’s even happened to baseball: data-driven decisions. While on the job experience should never be discounted, data has an uncanny ability to help people make better decisions.

Do you have a gut feel about a concerning trend that may be emerging? Use your incident data to validate your hunch. Sharing concerns around a negative safety trend and accompanying it with a chart showing a spike in something concerning is a sure way to get the attention of your management and your executives.

The world of safety and compliance has changed drastically over the past few years, and that pace of change is only getting faster. The great news is that health and safety software tools are evolving just as quickly. These four steps are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to how EHS software can make your life easier, but are a great place to start streamlining how you manage your safety compliance.

This post appeared originally on the Intelex Blog.

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