Mobile-First Technology that Makes Safety Second Nature
Utilize technology to place health and safety at the forefront of business.
- By Kylie Uvodich
- Dec 01, 2022
The last few years have brought on sweeping changes—and challenges—across workplaces and industries. Many found their roles transformed as health and safety came to the forefront of the decision-making process. Once only relevant to high-risk industries and those working on the frontline, occupational health and safety have become a major priority for all.
Despite this, organizations are still falling short. Recent research by SafetyCulture revealed that one in five (20 percent) workers said they have experienced workplace injury due to inadequate processes or communication, while one in four (25 percent) know a colleague who has. It’s a pressing issue—and it’s important to understand that prioritizing safety involves more than just ticking a box. Ultimately, it lays a foundation that brings out the best in your team, your protocols and your up outputs.
The process of creating and implementing effective safety procedures can seem daunting. It’s often hard to know where to start. The good news is that technology can be used to make quick work of complexity, handling the heavy lifting of process rollout and ongoing practice. Here’s how organizations can utilize technology to transform processes and place health and safety at the forefront of business.
Remove the Danger of Assumption
To build a culture of safety, you first need to evaluate the procedures your organization already has in place. Do standard safety processes currently exist? If yes, do they encompass the entire organization or are they only relevant to specific teams or employees? Do these procedures include all hazards within your industry? Are they known or easily accessible by employees? The assumption that safety procedures exist and are known by all is a dangerous one. Only once you have a clear understanding of current processes can you expand your policy to encompass all potential health and safety hazards.
Be Proactive, Not Reactive
It is common for workplace hazards to only be addressed after someone is injured or becomes sick, an outside inspection finds an issue or a new regulation is put in place. Once again, the danger of assumption arises when broken tools or new hazards are assumed to be known by all, and therefore reported by none. Finding and fixing hazards using a proactive approach, before they cause injury or illness, is the most effective way to keep everyone healthy and safe.
Workplaces are ever-evolving with new technologies, processes and materials being introduced. Adopting a systematic approach for standard checks and emergency reporting can help businesses stay on top of emerging issues and be proactive, not reactive.
Simplify and Digitize
Making safety second nature within your business starts with the previously mentioned practices, but truly kicks into gear with the digitization of your processes. Time-consuming paper reports and clunky systems can hinder your entire organization. When the process to report a hazard requires large amounts of paperwork to be filled out and laboriously filed or hinges on the cooperation of a long-obsolete computer system, it becomes far too easy for employees to put reporting off or avoid it altogether. SafetyCulture research indicates that four in ten (40 percent) workers said they’d like to see greater investment by their employer in technology to improve processes, safety and efficiency.
Digitizing your processes not only helps to remove assumptions and create pathways to increased visibility, but it also makes safe practices and the reporting of hazards a simple, streamlined process. Enabling your teams to report emerging hazards, record incidents and request support through a mobile-first platform creates a digital trail that maps the journey to resolution. With the barriers to reporting removed, everyone can feel safe and confident that incidents are recorded immediately and rectified appropriately. Poor communication practices can further hinder safety by disconnecting teams and leaving employees out of the loop. Organizations can take advantage of platforms powering real-time alerts in the case of red flags like missed check-ins or standard reports and quick duress alarm activation. Ensuring critical communications can reach all team members, even if they are frontline workers or lone workers in the field, offers everyone greater peace of mind.
Get Everyone Involved
It should come as no surprise that those who do the work on a daily basis often know the most about the potential hazards associated with it. The most-effective health and safety programs are built upon the collective knowledge, experience and insight of those within your organization. Involving team members in your safety conversations and resulting procedures not only ensures all possible hazards are addressed but also allows them to feel invested in the program.
Ensure feedback can be captured quickly, simply and if required, anonymously by using tech such as scannable QR codes. Individual voices can be amplified and power can be put back in the hands of each and every team member. Equip teams with the right tools to ensure they can easily speak up and have their voices heard and valued.
Once the program is created, it is vital to have upper management and leadership maintain their commitment to it. Employees look to their company’s leadership for guidance and to set the standard on company practices. When those in leadership positions show their sincere support in proactively keeping employees healthy and safe, workers feel valued by the business as a whole. Those at the top of the organization can demonstrate their ongoing commitment by providing the necessary resources and tools, recognizing safe practices performed by team members and always factoring safety and health into operational decisions. Ultimately, it is on those at the top of the business to make the health and safety of their employees a priority and part of daily conversations.
Maintain Safe Habits
The key to the success of a health and safety plan is to make it a vital part of your organization’s daily operations. It should become a habit for everyone within your business, all the way from upper management to part-time or even temporary employees. We all know the best way to turn an action into a habit is through training and repetition. In the past though, workplace training efforts were more concerned with compliance numbers than tangible learning outcomes. Now, the ability to deliver effective learning is critical.
As the world around us continues to change and new safety standards arise, teams need to get up to speed quickly. Mobile-first, microlearning tools are increasingly important to helping businesses train their employees on compliance measures—as well as increase productivity and promote employee confidence. Rather than using a set-it-and-forget-it approach, scheduling training sessions at regular intervals naturally builds safety into your company culture.
Keep the Conversation Going
Once programs are put into place, it is important to continuously evaluate and look for areas of improvement. This task shouldn’t be left only to safety managers or those in similar positions, it should instead be an open conversation across your entire organization. To maximize participation, however, workers must feel safe raising concerns and potential problems without the threat of retaliation. It is on those at the top of your organization to lay the foundation for a culture of speaking up and ensure employees are comfortable giving voice to any issues or feedback.
An organization that prioritizes health and safety ultimately results in a positive environment where employees feel valued and respected.
About the Research
All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 1,976 frontline workers (860 U.S,, 558 Australia, 558 UK). Fieldwork was undertaken during August 2022. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of U.S., UK and AU frontline workers (aged 18+).
This article originally appeared in the December 1, 2022 issue of Occupational Health & Safety.