Health and safety is a minefield of risk and regulations. Mark Ward argues that an integrated H&S management system can help protect staff, ensure compliance and increase productivity
Ensuring employee health and safety in the workplace is not just about compliance, it is vital for a happy and thriving workforce. And technology has a valuable part to play.
An effective health and safety management software program can mitigate risk in four key areas: environmental, health and safety (EHS) management and compliance, employee health management, supply chain auditing and sustainability reporting. Such software can give real-time access to an integrated view of these four elements, ensuring that nothing slips through the cracks and workers are protected throughout their time at the organisation.
Communication between employer and employee is essential to successful management, and that appears to be lacking in many organisations. According to a survey of 2,000 employees by WorkMobile – provider of a mobile data capture app – 65 per cent of staff have received no information about their company’s health and safety policies. This despite it being a basic legal requirement for all companies with five employees or more.
By using health and safety management software, employers can be assured that up-to-date worker and workplace information is always at hand when needed. Such information can include everything from the date of the last regulatory compliance checks or the next due audit, to keeping track of each employee’s mandatory screenings, training and exams, ensuring any certificates are up-to-date. By speeding up the processing of real-time information, staff time is saved and productivity is increased.
The system can use analytics to examine health and safety incident information and help ensure compliance with all relevant regulations. Incident management tracking can help to prevent accidents through use of leading indicator metrics. The system can also hold up-to-date, real-time information about suppliers, giving employees confidence in their sources of products and services and helping to build stronger professional relationships.
Workplace presenteeism is a problem that puts employees and organisations at greater risk of injury and error, as the worker’s full attention is not on the task at hand. Workplace presenteeism is defined as when workers are physically present but not fully functioning due to illness or other medical conditions. It is also costly – according to a Global Corporate Challenge (GCC) Insights report, employees who come to work but are not fully productive cost 10 times more than the cost of those who are absent.
Empowering employees to take charge of their health through open communication and self-service portals helps reduce this risk. Employee self-service portals within the system can be used to create an automated system or mobile app for physical exam appointments, forms, medical and vaccination record access, and wellness activities. The ability to log-in and view personal documents such as payslips, P60s and personal contact details gives employees greater control and insight into their relationship with their employer, often leading to greater productivity and an enhanced sense of self-worth.
Mark Ward is General Manager at UL EHS Sustainability.