Compliance is at the heart of all health and safety. A company that is compliant, that operates according to rules and regulations, and that prioritizes safe work practices will be a company with very few issues when it comes to auditing.
Electronic contractor management solutions have huge benefits when it comes to ensuring compliance, so for the purposes of this blog we are going to be focusing on this single aspect when it comes to compliance.
Many companies will start out using paper for a lot of their processes, but considerations should always be made for how electronic systems can be more beneficial in terms of efficiency. One thing to also understand is the need for switching to an electronic system. Is it as a result of failing an audit and being reactive to a situation, or is the company proactive in wanting to create a safer workplace and environment?
At OneLook Systems, we are often asked the question of why someone should go with an electronic contractor management system over a paper-based system. Our answer is always the same; “Can you say with 100% certainty that every contractor who comes to work on your site is safe and compliant, has all the necessary qualifications (and has them up to date), is fully insured, and has completed site induction?”
These questions allow us to really dig into the areas of where compliance is a major issue. Administration time being spent managing contractors might be a big issue for you, but it is something that is still manageable, whereas if you are constantly being let down on compliance levels, this should be a major cause for concern and a serious red flag to highlight that improvements are required.
THE PURPOSE OF AN AUDIT
Why do companies carry out internal safety checks and audits? For some companies, it is an opportunity to identify where safety and processes can be improved. For other companies, it is done because of enforcement rather than proactively looking to make things better. Identification of risks and hazards.
COMPLIANCE AND THE NEED FOR IT
Figures from the International Labour Organization (ILO) in 2017 showed that 2.78 million workers across the globe die each year as a result of occupational injuries and illnesses. These startling figures are one of the things which drive the need for compliance. The World Health Organisation (WHO), in the same year (2017), released proposals on ways to protect workers and their health. Their proposed strategy to improve health coverage of workers included:
…..focus on assessing and reducing occupational risks; surveillance and improvement of the work environment, work organization, machinery and equipment; early detection and rehabilitation of occupational diseases; promotion of health; and the provision of first aid at the workplace.
Developing workplace health initiatives, tools and methods for empowering companies and other work settings to take better care of health…..
By having strict regulations in high risk industries, the aim is to drastically reduce the number of workplace accidents, injuries and fatalities which happen each year. But just as important as having these regulations in place is the monitoring and enforcement to make sure companies are adhering to the regulations and are not cutting corners. This enforcement can often come from external agencies (eg. HSE in the UK, HSA in Ireland), but when it comes from internal requirements then the result can be very positive in contributing to a safe work environment.
WHERE DOES COMPLIANCE FALL DOWN?
There are many areas where compliance can fall down, and every company is different, but there are also some areas which hold similarities for most companies:
No matter what industry you work in, human error is unavoidable. But the good thing is that the chances of error can be minimized. If we take the example of a permit to work being filled in by a contractor, a simple error that could occur with a paper-based permit system might be a permit not being closed out correctly, due to forgetfulness or human error. With an electronic system, this error gets flagged and needs correcting before a job can be closed off, thereby nullifying that human error.
COMPLIANCE VS BUSINESS AS USUAL
Make the time to carry out assessments of your companies’ operations. It is easy to get caught up in the whirlwind of the everyday work life, but sometimes it is more beneficial to take a step back, assess what the company is doing, what is working well and what is causing an issue to prevent compliance, and then set the time to rectify this.
LACK OF CONTROL
This takes us back to our original question – “Can you say with 100% certainty that every contractor who comes to work on your site is safe and compliant, has all the necessary qualifications (and has them up to date), is fully insured, and has completed site induction?” With a paper-based system, there can often be a lack of control in terms of managing contractors and ensuring that they are being compliant. By putting the responsibility for documentation back on the contractor, this can allow for greater control when it comes to the overall management of contractors coming on site.
LACK OF DOCUMENTATION OR ORGANIZATION
Getting organized and prepared for an audit is a hugely time-consuming task when all the documentation is on paper and stored in filing cabinets. It can be challenging to keep on top of the volumes of paperwork associated with different safety processes. This is where an electronic system can really come to the fore. Being able to find data at the click of a button helps both the person preparing the data and keeps the auditor happy.
HOW CAN IT BE FIXED?
Electronic contractor management systems combat the issue of non-compliance by running checks to ensure that the contractor’s qualifications, insurance and inductions are fully up to date, as well as managing induction qualification and expiration. Take the time to have a look at your existing work processes and evaluate them just based on compliance. Identify for yourself where compliance is falling down and then set about how to rectify any issues. Our final word of advice is never be afraid to ask for help!