10th March 2023
The landscape of EHS (environment, health, and safety) has become increasingly complex in recent times, with the onset of the global pandemic, continuously expanding legislation of workplace safety standards, alongside a growing awareness of the importance of fostering mentally healthy people in the workplace.
The scope of EHS work has truly expanded to encompass far more than just hazard and risk management, with a much broader range of responsibilities for the EHS leaders within an organisation.
With a job where responsibilities continue to shift and change as rapidly as Auckland’s weather forecast, those responsible for leading EHS in their workplaces might feel the weight of their job on their shoulders - and with that, perhaps higher-than-ideal levels of stress and a never-ending to-do list.
Ultimately, this begs the question - how do you keep up?
One such way that can relieve this burden for EHS leaders is to ensure that organisations have the right technology to help support their needs. For any truly forward thinking organisation, using a software-based platform to integrate all the needs of their organisational ecosystem in one place is a must in 2023
As a health and safety leader, you not only want to keep up, but you want to be two steps ahead. You want systems that mean you’re not endlessly chasing people around or tying up loose ends.
Finding a technology system that helps can be the lifeline safety managers are looking for. However, technology is an all-encompassing term. Despite being seen as the silver bullet for complex business problems, technology implementation projects fail at a rate of 69%.
Across the board are a plethora of common pitfalls that lead technology implementation projects astray. We need to better understand our technology and where things can go wrong, before committing to any one system.
Pitfall #1: Lack of alignment
Do you know your objective?
No matter where you are on your journey towards a software solution, it’s important to consider your objectives and the problems you’re looking to solve.
There tends to be a spectrum of what organisations are looking to achieve when it comes to health and safety technology. On one end of the spectrum is basic compliance, where businesses are just aiming to tick the boxes of industry standards, such as ISO 45001, or AS/NZ 4801. At the other end are organisations embedding a positive, holistic safety culture at all levels.
Both ends of the spectrum are valid objectives, and where a business falls often depends on which stage of growth the organisation is in, as well as their industry. However, these wildly different objectives require very different software solutions, as does each stage in between. This is, therefore, a key upfront consideration that all parties should be aligned on.
Pitfall #2: Creating a system only for the Health and Safety Manager
Given that it’s your initiative, your system, and in an area that you spend your time in, there’s a temptation to scope, plan, and create a system that meets all of your needs - but this isn’t always what’s best for the end user.
The number 1 critical success factor for any software project - including WHS software - is end users’ acceptance. If your objective is to achieve engagement at all levels to truly embed a safety culture in your organisation, then the most important thing needs to be bringing people to the system.
Key elements such as a modern, clean - and most importantly, simple - interface make a system usable for everyone. You need a system that ensures the user experience is aligned specifically to each individual person’s role, and only asks them for the important, key information to avoid clutter.
Pitfall #3: Lack of mobility
Let’s face it, everything effective is mobile these days - and social media has transformed people's' technological expectations in the workplace. We expect easy, mobile capabilities from any system we’re using.
It’s the same for safety. There are huge advantages to reporting hazards, near-misses, or incidents from a mobile phone. People can capture valuable data, tag the exact geo-location, take photos or videos, and upload them right there and then, and continue to get on with their job. If people have to upload details about an incident or near-miss at the end of the day, when they get home from work, they might miss important information or forget specific details.
Even better, mobile capabilities can provide crucial offline access for workers in remote areas, as well as providing immediate, critical emergency and safety alerts to all key parties.
Pitfall #4: Limited external party coverage
Organisations do not exist in a vacuum. Every organisation has at least some external stakeholders - be them suppliers,contractors, or specialist services. Whenever these external parties are on site, you have a duty of care to ensure their safety, as well as the safety of all visitors coming onsite.
It’s crucial that all your visitors are catered for by your WHS tool. Aim to find a software that allows contractor organisations to manage their own workforces, including updating their people, induction training, and licence information.
Furthermore, consider software with visitor management capabilities. As a health and safety manager, you’ll want to know who’s onsite at all times. With visitors, not only is their safety important, but so is their experience at your workplace. Software that caters towards visitors offers a seamless experience. There’s no worse first impression than a queue at reception.
Pitfall #5: Selecting a vendor based on features alone
When it comes to software selection, it’s easy to get excited about features, and features alone. While the software you choose is, of course, crucial to the success of your health and safety programme, partnering with a vendor that focuses on a long-term relationship is almost more important.
Organisations need to partner with a software company that not only understands organisational hazards and risks, but assists with establishing a company-wide safety culture at each level.
The software company needs to have the capability and capacity to onboard your organisation effectively, providing ongoing service and support, and not be afraid to push the safety technology frontier further.
It’s an old adage, but change certainly doesn’t happen overnight. Technology can however, rapidly transform and improve the way your organisation does safety. In the ever-growing landscape of 2023 for EHS, using a technology system that’s designed to make your life easier, is the best way forward, and will help future-proof your organisation.
Systems that are designed with key organisational objectives in place mean that more of your people are going home to their families, unharmed. With the right system in place, organisations will benefit from increased reporting and engagement, ultimately affording managers time to work on proactive tasks that truly promote a blossoming safety culture.
From there, the sky’s the limit!