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When it comes to health and safety, I don’t like surprises and I HATE inefficiency. That’s why I’m such a process guy. But even more so, I love nothing more than getting those processes off paper and into a digital, automated system.
Systemising and digitising your manual processes will reduce waste and save you money. But it will also help protect you from a catastrophe in your workplace.
Manual processes are fraught with very real danger because steps get missed. Think about what it would mean for your business if an employee fills out a defect notice and it isn’t addressed, or key inputs to an incident report are omitted. The consequences could be catastrophic for the health and safety of your team and your organisation.
I’m going to help you look at your safety process with ‘fresh eyes’, and plug those gaps you might not have seen or thought were possible to plug. Here are some tips on how to introduce health and safety processes that will save you money AND help you sleep at night.
1. Analyse and document what you do now
If your current health and safety processes are quite manual, then identifying low hanging fruit is usually pretty easy. Culprits usually come in the following form:
- Data entry
- Duplicate data re-entry (where the same data gets entered multiple times, usually into different systems)
Start by engaging with stakeholders that are part of the health and safety process, to understand and document the pain points. What we really want to identify here is: ‘What gets missed or forgotten?’
To use the defect example again: a mechanic in the workshop might say, “We hear that the workers fill out paper defect notices, but we never see them, so how can we fix them?”. Now you’ve got defective vehicles or equipment still in use, and a potential accident on your hands.
There are many free business process mapping tools you can use to document your processes. I’d recommend a free tool like Miro, Jira or Lucidchart. Once you’ve mapped out your business processes, you can use a tool like Lightspace to automate the day-to-day tasks using our suite of modules, alerts and workflows.
2. Engage management across the business
After talking to team members that are part of the process, speak with their management. Understand their view on the process, where it’s effective, and where it falls down.
Upstream concerns will typically be around reporting, which is always difficult with manual health and safety processes. They may tell you that key reporting metrics required to understand the risk profile of the organisation are nearly always wrong, or even worse – missing.
This is understandable when you consider the culprits in point 1.
3. Design the “To Be” process.
Now that you have all the information you need, it’s time to work on the improvements.
Engage with stakeholders from every department that is involved in your health and safety processes, both hands-on staff and management. Present your findings, starting with a rundown of the current process (this is what we call the ‘As Is’). Go over the pain points, look at any critical steps that are constantly missed and discuss the risks. Don’t forget to also talk about what’s being done well – it’s always good to inject some positivity into proceedings!
As a team, discuss all these points and then workshop a ‘To Be’ process. This is your ideal health and safety process. Don’t think about software or systems just yet – focus on the requirements. Always remember your overarching goal: to become a safer organisation.
Then it’s time to look at what software or systems you can put in place to help you execute your ‘To Be’ process. There are some clever software systems out there that can help you manage your safety processes from start to finish – but if that’s not an option, use some of these free tools:
- Calendar reminders – eg: each Monday, Gary needs to check the ‘defect’ pigeon hole
- WhatsApp groups – each member in the process updates the thread when their task is complete. Those further downstream in the process will prompt if they have not had any inputs.
- Meetings – traditional standup meetings with a static agenda can also help make sure safety issues don’t fall through the cracks.
4. Communicate the new process
Have a chat with your team and get them on board. Let them know that the organisation is undertaking a review of health and safety processes because it values the wellbeing of its workforce.
Be firm and confident with the way you introduce the new process. For example, you could say something like, “It’s been noted some defects are not getting rectified – and that’s simply not good enough. Here is our new process to ensure your safety”.
Buy-in from your team is crucial for the success of any new health and safety processes. If they’re not on board, they won’t be adopted.
5. Follow up so the team know the process will be enforced
In my experience, many people fear change – so at this point you’ll be tested by your team. It’s important to be one step ahead at all times.
Following up and keeping stakeholders accountable lets them know that you are serious about driving safety into your organisation. If you don’t, they’ll cut corners and you’ll be back at the beginning. But don’t just be on people’s cases all day – celebrate their wins too. Share the positive results with your organisation so they know their efforts are having a real impact.
Looking for an easier way to introduce health and safety processes and systemise your safety workflow? Check out Lightspace.
Our system checklist form builder allows you to ditch the pen and paper and create digital forms for collecting data from your workforce. Include field definition and validation to ensure you get the right stuff every time. Lightspace also allows you to create workflow alerts (including email and SMS) to ensure critical steps aren’t missed.