Safety management systems and OSHA compliance
What are the benefits of a cloud-based safety management system?
Responding is Kevin Richards, EHS director – North America, ProcessMAP, Sunrise, FL.
The traditional means of recordkeeping have become antiquated. Yet, organizations are slow to implement digital transformation tools such as cloud-based technologies, especially when it comes to safety. Many employers are resistant to cloud-based tools because of the possible learning curve for employees and concerns about the security of the data stored on the platform. However, they need to understand that “the standard way of doing things” often leaves their employees vulnerable, can severely hurt brand reputation and can result in noncompliance with OSHA standards.
Using the right safety management tools, safety managers can rest assured they will reduce safety issues and remain in compliance. Cloud-based safety management systems provide a streamlined platform to maintain real-time data in a secure location. When evaluating a safety management system, safety managers should ask three important questions before implementation begins:
Does it provide accurate recordkeeping?
A safety management system should provide a user-friendly dashboard to report and track employee injuries and incidents on the job. With a cloud-based platform, every employee is held accountable for workplace safety, and issues can be easily recorded in real time. These up-to-date metrics – such as near misses and lost-time accidents – then can be reported to relevant stakeholders at any given moment.
An effective safety management system also can calculate various incident rates so safety managers can gain a holistic view of organizational performance. With safety training being key to preventing injuries, organizations can manage training for new employees as well as ongoing refreshers to ensure compliance with ever-changing OSHA standards. With data analytics built into the system, safety managers also can ensure the organization is on track to meet safety goals and milestones.
Is it saving time?
A cloud-based safety management system should be user-friendly and configurable to meet unique business needs. Using detailed incident reporting, the platform should be able to determine the contributing factors in an incident – such as not wearing the right personal protective equipment. The safety manager then will conduct an investigation to pinpoint the root cause of the incident, and these details and results can be saved directly in the system for increased efficiency. Corrective and preventive actions can be sent to key individuals in an organization to prevent reoccurrences. Action items can be sent as email notifications with regular reminders until the task is completed and the effectiveness of the corrective action is verified.
With a robust system, safety managers have complete control to track employee health and well-being in real time. If an incident occurs, a cloud-based system allows for seamless integration with third-party administrators for claims management. Data exchange between the organization and TPA is easily managed to eliminate duplicate processes.
Is it secure?
Data security threats are always a concern for employers. When it comes to using a cloud-based safety management system, it’s important that safety managers understand where the data is stored, how data transfer occurs, who can access and modify data, what happens when the data is deleted, and how a backup is performed. A clear understanding of these security measures ensures data risks are mitigated and safeguarded from malicious attacks.
A safety management system should have an information classification scheme of four-level authentication to increase the confidentiality and reliability of the data. At this authentication level, data is private, sensitive, critical and confidential. Proper security controls such as authentication, encryption, monitoring, archiving, recovery, business continuity and physical security all should be considered to ensure compliance.
Employers are responsible for providing a safe and healthy work environment for all employees. With the right safety management system, safety managers can ensure workplace conditions are constantly being examined and issues are being addressed immediately. Using best-in-class cloud-based tools, organizations can ensure OSHA compliance and provide precise records in a streamlined way during an inspection or audit.
Editor's note: This article represents the independent views of the author and should not be construed as a National Safety Council endorsement.