This article was originally published on OHS Alert, original article available here.
The COVID-19 pandemic has ramped up the digitisation of work processes and the expansion of safety management technology beyond routine health and safety issues, according to a safety software expert who outlines how employers can get the most out of their platforms.
Charlie Forsyth, Chief Product Officer and co-founder of Noggin, told OHS Alert that as employers head into more unknowns in 2022, they are favouring more holistic software.
As opposed to standalone safety management programs, these can integrate worker wellbeing, workplace facilities, incident response, emergency and crisis management coordination, corporate security and business continuity, he says.
Noggin's own program was adapted in 2020 to track worksite attendance, digitise bespoke workflows in response to the pandemic, provide managers with guidance on meeting government reporting requirements, manage the wellbeing of workers who contract COVID-19, and get them back to work safely.
Forsyth says there are a number of factors employers and safety practitioners need to consider when selecting safety management software for their workplace, to ensure it will be effective.
They should select a vendor with software that offers built-in best practice processes or alignment with ISO Standards, to eliminate the need to compile this information themselves, he says.
This is a "hallmark" of a good tool, along with being easy and cheap to customise by even non-technical people when unplanned events like the pandemic occur.
Employers should not be required to go back to the vendor every time a change is needed, Forsyth says.
"That's what we call no-code development, which empowers practitioners to actually mould and improve their own digital systems over time themselves and easily add in new business processes and workflows," he says.
User experience and mobile phone-friendliness are also "huge factors" in successful adoption by workers and ensuring they are engaging with safety routines and reporting incidents properly.
"If you've got people out in the field who are using the software to upload data and don't have a good experience, then you're not going to get great data coming in from those people."
According to Forsyth, some of the biggest issues with safety software involve change management and the lack of organisational buy-in, both at the top of organisations and among frontline workers.
He suggests employers really think about who their stakeholders are, their motivations and how the benefits of using the software can be communicated to them.
He warns against overcomplex systems, which result in poor user adoption, and lengthy implementation phases.
"There's always a tension between collecting really comprehensive data to analyse risks and incidents, versus the time and thought and effort required to fill out the form," Forsyth says.
When effective, safety software can do a lot to drive continuous safety improvement, by ensuring risks are identified, controls are effectively implemented and reviewed, and workers follow through on required actions.
It helps to "close the loop" in compliance activities and drives risk reductions and incident prevention, by ensuring corrective and preventative actions are being followed through and collecting data that give employers key insights.