How Technology is Changing the OHS Role
While Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) responsibilities may have a multitude of variations in the manufacturing, industrial, utilities or resources sectors, the technology to allow seamless information flows and real-time analysis remains a common thread.
With new technology available to monitor, measure and control workplace hazards and the rapid development of consumer-driven technologies, OHS Reps are increasingly leveraging IoT (Internet of Things) technology to assess risk and limit exposure to a wide variety of potentially harmful conditions.
Utilising smartphones and other hand-held devices allows field teams to access everything onsite, from Pre-Start Checklists to OHS Regulations. OHS Officers can now immediately analyse information in the field, access the required systems and processes and make immediate decisions on the spot, with the ability to remotely monitor multiple workers in real time and be alerted when risk exposure levels become significant or excessive.
The implications for identification of hazards, accident prevention, fatigue management and a multitude of other high-risk workplace situations are significantly impacted when the responsibility and decision making can be managed on the ground floor, at the touch of a button. And with a range of historical data now available and easily accessible via the IoT, OHS Officers are in an unprecedented position where they have more insights than ever into improving current safety standards and meeting their goals.
Simplifying OHS and Making it Mobile
With some industries–those with field teams in particular–finding it increasingly difficult for OHS to to access all of the details required to make strategic decisions on the road, cloud technology and the IoT has provided a simple solution to this barrier.
Platforms like Dynamics 365 and the V:Forms solution Velrada have created have been designed with mobile individuals and teams in mind, allowing them to carry out inspections and assessments on the road, with a view to leveraging the data for historical analysis and process improvement. This also allows for the real time visibility required to identify hazards and make immediate, data-based decisions for optimal work and safety, no matter where in the world they may currently be.
Increasing importance is being placed on ensuring systems are simple to use for both the OHS Officers and Managers setting it up, and those workers and teams who use it on a regular basis; being able to perform risk assessments, pre-start or inspection checklists and safety checks on a mobile or tablet and send that data in real time to team members in other locations is critical, especially for those in the OHS sector.
The easy customisation of today’s OHS software helps OHS officers easily create the checklists and audits required for each individual job or team. It’s not enough for this software to just be able to create forms however; it also must be able to complete the full range of OHS tasks (such as incident reporting, employee feedback, field team support, data gathering, photo capture and analytics) and collate them together in such a way that companies can easily analyse all of the data they need to empower their teams–while maintaining organisational efficiency and control.
Hand Held Devices + Wireless Field Instruments x Cloud Technology = A More Human Approach to OHS?
This automation serves not to remove data analysis in the OHS role, but rather liberate field officers from laborious data entry and manual reporting downloads. This provides the potential for OHS Managers to focus more on the education and cultural balance of maintaining a safe workplace.
This leads us to the next advantage of IoT and cloud technologies in the OHS context – efficient workplace collaboration to achieve OHS outcomes. Again, the technology comes to the rescue with interactive cloud-based portals (typically powered by Microsoft cloud solutions) which can be easily customised to provide teams or individuals role-specific information, time-critical updates and critical risk assessment information – all controlled centrally by the OHS Manager.
Using the technology to allow transparency and promote a collaborative partnership provides the opportunity for an overall workplace cultural shift regarding safety.