Adopt an agile approach with apps

22 May 2018

Mobile apps have a major place in today’s consumer world. We can do everything from booking the cinema to ordering a food shop at the click of a button. Matthew Elson, CEO, SHE Software, looks at how this functionality is coming to health and safety and the major impact that it can make to a modern day workforce

More than 600,000 workers are injured every year in the UK. The average cost to a business for a non-fatal injury is over £8,000, rising to £1.6 million for a fatality. The stakes are high for companies that don’t have efficient health and safety systems in place.

Applying these systems is easier said than done. The modern workforce is changing. Fast. Gone are the days of being stuck in a cubicle from 9am to 5pm. The workforce is more global, mobile and diverse than ever before. Organisations are responsible for an increasing swathe of contractors, agency workers, part-timers and remote workers.

Proactive and predictive

As the modern workforce keeps diversifying, organisations must adopt an agile approach to health and safety if they are to keep up, which is where technology – specifically mobile apps – can help.

New technologies in health and safety management are transforming businesses, shifting health and safety from being rules driven and compliance-led, to being proactive and predictive.

Despite the modern way in which we work, health and safety appears to be stuck in the past. Most organisations still use a spreadsheet or a ‘paper and pen’ system, making safety an administrative burden. Safety professionals can spend up to 80 per cent of their week juggling paperwork, leaving them with little time to proactively manage safety.

In turn, these clunky systems mean the inherent difficulty of reporting incidents and near misses sees many go unreported, leading to unsafe working conditions and significant reputational, legal and financial risk.

Mobile apps in health and safety can make a difference. Apps are a huge part of the consumer world. We can do just about anything with them, from ordering food to booking flights. Apps understand our aims, preferences and context, and present real-time information and functionality to us as consumers. 

This functionality is making its way into health and safety. Mobile apps in health and safety can automate the process, freeing safety professionals to do their job, spending less time fire fighting today’s issues and more time focusing on what will make a difference tomorrow.

Mobile apps don’t just save time. They have a positive impact on a company’s health and safety culture. They get everyone involved, especially those on the ‘front line’ most likely to be exposed to accident or injury.

If everyone can access a mobile app - wherever they are - to log a hazard or near miss, they can make it visible to safety teams straight away. Apps give employees a safety voice and embed an inclusive culture. Apps are enablers, encouraging people to do the right thing without the concern of paperwork.

Speak the same language

The Office for National Statistics states that the number of non-UK nationals working in the UK has increased from 928,000 in 1997 to 3.56 million in 2017. Apps in health and safety management can make a big impact to multilingual workforces. Language can be a barrier, which is where poor communication becomes a problem. 

Smart advances in technology mean that most apps can easily adapt to a local language. Multilingual functionality available through health and safety mobile apps can close gaps in communication. This is indispensable for companies with a diverse workforce who may have otherwise been excluded by language from a firm’s health and safety culture.

Dealing with data

Most companies are good at recording accidents, managing risks and keeping records. Some are better than others at applying lessons learned and subsequently adopting preventative measures. Very few take a systematic approach to analysing health and safety data. 

Health and safety apps keep an organisation’s data in one place, accessible at the click of a button, giving safety managers complete visibility of their health and safety landscape. 

This presents a great opportunity for companies to learn by interrogating data, identifying trends, tackling leading indicators and implementing preventative measures - before it’s too late. This is when a company shifts from reactive, to proactive health and safety management. The bottom line? This data has the potential to save lives.