Simon Cooke from SHE Software shares four ways that technology can help support a proactive health and safety culture
Behaviours are commonly seen as a contributing factor in workplace accidents or incidents. When looking to drive improvements in safety performance, rules and procedures will only achieve so much.
Instead, a fundamental component to centring health and safety in the workplace is the creation and curation of an engaged culture, where everyone values safety and actively considers their own and their colleagues’ behaviours.
A successful safety culture is one in which every employee is actively invested in safety and where communicating about safety activities and issues is second nature to everybody.
However, this is not always straightforward. In an organisation where there is not a positive safety culture, simple things like process, systems and even management styles can discourage employees from communicating or reporting on safety related issues.
A 2014 study into barriers to effective safety reporting in healthcare, carried out by researchers from the University of British Columbia, found that the main issues faced by employees were:
- Time constraints
- A sense of futility
- A lack of education about reporting
- Inaccessibility of reporting forms
Although the study’s research was focused on healthcare workers, the findings reflect common challenges faced by many employees. So what can professionals in functions such as HR, health and safety, and operations do to overcome such issues, and help drive a culture in which safety is valued by everybody?
One trend that we’re seeing is an increased demand for the intelligent application of technology at every level of an organisation, from the ‘shop floor’ to the highest level of management. Health and safety management software such as Assure from SHE Software can help organisations move towards a proactive, inclusive safety culture where safety simply becomes a part of ‘the way things are done’. Here are four ways that specialist software can help you improve your safety culture.
1. It makes reporting quick and easy
The easiest way to encourage staff to engage with workplace safety is to make simple, easy-to-use systems and tools available to all. A busy worker might be unwilling to find and fill out a paper incident book in a hard-to-find office drawer – but digital solutions, such as user-friendly mobile apps, will encourage on-the-spot instant reporting.
2. It helps employees to actively engage with safety
Getting employees engaged in safety is fundamental to a good safety culture. Involving the entire workforce in safety activities empowers individuals and helps to position safety as a value – and not just a ‘box-ticking exercise’ imposed from on high.
3. It’s in tune with how staff complete many other tasks
Given that most people now use apps to check their bank balance, order food or book travel, why is safety still so reliant on traditional tools such as paper or spreadsheet forms? Web-based platforms and mobile apps enable people to engage with safety in a way that resonates with them and aligns with the way they manage their lives outside of work.
4. It enables safety to be part of your everyday, anytime, anywhere work
Technology enables staff to engage with safety as it happens, in real time – improving reporting rates. The ability to access a system at any time, whether on or offline, means that your workforce can submit observations or report incidents no matter where they are, easily capturing data in a single location.
Choosing software that’s available on mobile, tablet and desktop devices (with or without internet access), and that has a great user interface, also helps to improve staff uptake. Increased usage will have real benefits for an organisation: real-time data results in higher-quality insights, more accurate reporting, and increased visibility of your safety and compliance status.
When it comes to improving the culture of safety within an organisation, good two-way dialogue with employees is a fundamental element in driving a better understanding of your true safety performance.
Using intelligent technology to provide accessible, user-friendly tools allows everybody to contribute to safety conversations. When employees can contribute, they’ll engage: and that engagement means that safety becomes part of their everyday role.
Building a successful safety culture takes more than just the right software solution, but innovative technologies are a crucial tool that support the process and engage employees to develop a culture in which safety is front and centre.
Simon Cooke is strategic partner and alliances Manager at SHE Software. He has more than 20 years’ experience in the health and safety sector, both as a service/consultancy provider and more recently delivering software solutions to help improve compliance and give better visibility and control over risk. To find out more about SHE Software’s health and safety solutions, call 0300 303 3656.