Managing and monitoring a process through mobile digital devices is very common. To the general public the most visible use of the technology is in the hands of many of the people who knock on their front doors.
Whether it’s the courier delivering a parcel and requiring a digital signature on his pad or the TV and telephone service engineer who manages the entire fault-finding process on her smartphone, more and more workers are having their tasks and schedules managed by networked devices. New applications of the communication and global positioning technologies appear every day and their use will only grow.
This impending ubiquity provides a great opportunity for health and safety professionals who want to see safe and efficient practices built in to the everyday activities of an organisation. Digital process management and monitoring is the key that unlocks the door to a good safety climate.
It has been a challenge for organisations to provide an up-to-date system for employees that adequately addresses all risks and allows them to record any changes, communication, briefings or incidents. It has also been difficult to provide evidence that a risk assessment has been viewed and, where necessary, amended to address the related issues. Such tasks are essential, not least because any changes in a job’s circumstances (such as weather, road conditions or access) must be taken into consideration.
These issues are now no longer a problem thanks to a new generation of digital process management and monitoring systems, enabling the seamless integration of health and safety processes into the running of businesses. By building our safety procedures into these systems and harnessing their monitoring power, feedback and communication features, we can be confident that we are always working as safely as possible.
How these systems work
Prior to the start of any job or project, relevant information such as the plan, schedule, work permits and schematics are uploaded to the system, along with health and safety information. Some health and safety documents will be standard and applied to a wide range of activities, whereas others will be unique to the project, drawn up specifically for the task by the team leader.
Some of the documents that can be uploaded and accessed by employees include plans and schematics, risk assessments, work instructions, safety briefings, work permits, COSHH assessments and step-by-step job guides. Employees can access specific safety documents, complete inspections and deliver or receive safety briefings from any connected device, and the system provides evidence that they have done so.
If a risk assessment has been drawn up for a task, all employees involved will use the digital process management system to confirm that they have read and understood it, ensuring that the workplace is safe and all necessary controls are in place. This is integral to the general briefing of the task, not separate to it, and provides safety training and communication while sharing responsibility for safety with all employees.
These job or project management systems have enormous health and safety benefits.
They give employees the responsibility for providing evidence that they have read relevant safety information, and enables them to report on the work that they have carried out in the field (along with any issues encountered) quickly and efficiently.
A proactive monitoring system allows specific inspections to be completed and nonconformances to be raised and resolved. The system thereby maintains good progress, as workflow is mandated to ensure that checks, inspections, work and driving are all carried out in the correct order.
It can also have a positive impact on a company’s insurance claims profile and can be used to provide a trend analysis of accidents, damages, inspections, non-conformances and briefings, helping to show continual improvement.
The system can help you to maintain up-to date vehicle records (including trailers, plant equipment or other assets), detailing planned and unplanned services, defects, and dates of maintenance activities such as vehicle MoTs.
A proactive safety management system and servicing policy helps to improve health and safety standards and protect both employees and the organisation itself. A comprehensive alerting system protects drivers by confirming time and attendance, and monitoring lone workers during unsociable hours.
A flexible system provides a library of documents and assessments, which can be altered to make them specific to the organisation, the work being undertaken and the risks being addressed. It should allow bespoke inspections to be developed and instantly uploaded for employees to follow or complete. All activity can be logged, tracked and reviewed.
Improving behaviour and communication
A good process management and monitoring system helps organisations track and improve employee activity. If an incident occurs that requires a change in procedures, real-time alerts can be sent to all employees. These can even be set to require all relevant employees to acknowledge receipt.
Driving behaviour is also recorded and analysed, which can be used to proactively engage employees and to improve the quality and safety of driving by highlighting areas for improvement. Road speed data is specific to vehicle type to ensure safety and legality, and a scheduler reduces the temptation for drivers to speed by minimising the chance that vehicles will be running late.
The system should also allow drivers to record incidents and near misses, so that the appropriate parties are immediately informed and can, where required, take swift action.
Photographic evidence is logged with a time and date, providing clear information for any potential claims.
With new Corporate Manslaughter and sentencing guidelines in place, it is essential that you can show evidence that employees are following all safety procedures. This is immensely difficult to ensure, and it is easy to prosecute after an accident if it can be proven that employees have not followed safety procedures.
The JobWatch system
One such system is JobWatch from a company called BigChange. JobWatch is a unique and complete package facilitating the planning, scheduling and management of mobile workforces. Office-based teams access JobWatch from any web browser, while mobile workers can instantly view everything they need using the BigChange mobile computer or app. In order to maintain safety, drivers cannot operate the computer while their vehicle is in motion.
JobWatch was created with safety and duty of care very much in mind, embedding health and safety into the activities it monitors and reports upon. It provides organisations and their management with evidence of their efficient health and safety management by identifying risks, providing effective controls (which are then communicated and monitored), and ensuring that any issues are dealt with.
- A constantly updated library of documents, including health and safety files.
- The ability to amend documents to make them appropriate to the job or site.
- An efficient way to communicate information to employees and subcontractors.
- A log of recorded briefings and inductions, noting the time and date of employee signatures.
- Access to safety or technical inspections, which must be completed before work commences.
- An instant reporting system, allowing problems to be quickly relayed to relevant parties.
- Evidence of a proactive safety management system, helping to improve the general safety culture of any organisation and avoid costly insurance claims. Photographs can be saved to project files, and the communication of incidents is recorded.
- A choice of language settings, making the system accessible for non-English speaking employees.