How to manage contractors effectively

With everything that’s going on in the world, the way that we manage our people has really been put into perspective. This is especially true for those who work within our organisations on a contractual or remote basis.

A lot of work within construction has been ground to a halt as we try to navigate the situation, however with things beginning to open back up and operations returning to normal, there are some lessons we can learn from the current period.

From people management to safety procedures, the current times have really allowed us time to reflect on how we manage our teams. We’re looking at how you can manage contractors effectively, during coronavirus and beyond, in order to get the most from your people and uphold compliance at all times.

Find the right contractors

Naturally, a big part of managing contractors effectively, is ensuring that you have the right people to start off with. 8% of the Australian workforce are contractors, meaning that there is some great talent out there to choose from.

The first step is to ensure that you’re working with the right people. When looking for contractors, it’s important to verify who they are and what their experience is. Looking for things like insurance details, permits to work, previous contracts and important documentation is essential. 

This is where a contractor management system can come into play and ensure that best practices are met when signing a contractor on. It’s not only the legal implications that need to be met, but the professional ones too. Ensuring that you have the right contractors for the job is the first step to a successful contractor management plan.

Ensure they are onboarded correctly

Traditionally, onboarding is thought of as something that is essential for long-term, full-time workers, but potentially not as important for contractors. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Contractors need to be effectively onboarded too, in order to make sure that you get the most from your people and remain compliant at all times.

The stats that you normally hear about onboarding are to do with employee retention, which isn’t always as essential when you’re working with contractors. What is interesting though (and is commonly missed off the list of stats) is that onboarding effectively can improve performance by up to 11%.

Investing in your onboarding process is well worth the time, effort and financial cost when it comes to getting the payback from your people. You’ll find it a lot easier to manage your people if they’re fully onboarded, know exactly what is expected from them and are comfortable in their surroundings.

Keep them in the know

When it comes to working with contractors, it’s sometimes hard to predict what information they have to hand. In this sense, it’s a good idea to establish early on what kind of knowledge they have and where they might need to freshen up before they begin.

Keeping them in the know is a crucial part of managing contractors, and will increase their value contribution ten-fold. This starts by keeping them as up to date with the scope of the contract from the beginning of the project and throughout, and means updating them with any of the need-to-know information that might be important.

There are some great ways you can do this, even if your contractors are working remotely. E-learning audio and video content is a sure fire way to ensure that contractors are well educated, and allows you to tick that compliance box without having to move from the comfort of your office.

Give them ownership 

Remember that although contractors are working for you on this project, they actually work for themselves. This means that they’re probably independent-minded people who are happy to take care of business where appropriate.

Giving your contractors the space to own their work and manage it effectively within reason, is a great move. With a contractor management system, this step becomes a lot easier. All of your contractors will have a log-in to the contractor management software, which removes any and all complexities associated with paper-based systems. It will also ensure that your contractors supply you with the relevant information.

Data-entry is significantly reduced and contractors can take ownership of their administration. This saves you time and money, and gives the contractor full ownership of their project – it’s a win win.

Check in regularly

Did you know that 40% of the Australian workforce feel lonely at work? This can be especially true of contractors. Keeping in touch helps to combat this, and keeps everyone happy and productive whilst they work for you.

A check in doesn’t have to be face to face, it can be via email or call but it just means that they know you’re there for them. Checking in regularly also means that you can keep on top of everything that is going on and report back to stakeholders accordingly.

Having a handle on the day to day operations isn’t always easy when you have a million and one other things to do, but having a contractor management system helps to combat this.

Contractor Management Systems That Work For You

At Beakon we don’t believe in a one size fits all solution to any business challenge. Your business and your contractors are unique, and therefore your needs are unique too. Discover how you could optimise your contractors with a contract management system that saves you time and money and boosts your level of compliance.

Get in touch today to learn more!

 

 

 

 

 

 

How can companies manage business risks?

If the past few months have taught us anything, it’s that business risks are very real. The good news is that now we’ve all had to manage certain business risks, we know how important it is to have a procedure in place and ensure that we are able to effectively manage the risks that our businesses may face.

We’re taking a look at how companies can manage business risks in order to remain compliant and minimise damage.

What kind of business risks should you be aware of?

First things first, there are many different kinds of business risks. Some of these are easier to manage than others, but all of them should be considered when creating a risk management plan.

  • Compliance risk: this includes risks that a company is required to comply with by law. These may include things like minimum wages and health and safety regulations.
  • Strategic risk: this is the kind of risk that is normally dictated by the market and external factors, such as the demand for the product or the economic state of affairs.
  • Financial risk: this kind of risk refers to the financial state of affairs of a business and their risk of struggling financially.
  • Operational risks: These are the risks that occur in the day to day running of the business and may impact profit. For example if some essential piece of equipment breaks.

1.Ensure that you’ve effectively identified risks

One of the first steps towards managing any risk is accepting that it is there. Carrying out a full risk assessment on your business will help you identify where your business could be vulnerable and minimise the likelihood of notable events occuring.

Remember that risk triggers can be both internal and external, and it’s important to think about any external influences that come into contact with your business. That includes contractors and visitors to sites, who can often present some of the greatest risks.

2. Ensure that measures are set out to manage those risks

It goes without saying that compliance is key, so ensure that you understand how to comply with your legal obligations when it comes to risk. You will need to keep records and ensure that you can prove that you’re effectively managing risk, so sitting down and working through how each risk is to be taken care of is essential.

A good place to start is by looking for an effective safety management software that will help you get a grip on how your risks evolve from day to day. You should take measures to manage risk such as:

  • Report risks, incidents and injury
  • Record actions taken following a risk
  • Create automated workflows and reminders to keep everyone notified
  • Create dashboard reports to keep on top of what risks the business might be exposed to

3. Delegate and share the risk responsibility

Once the risks have been established and you have decided how they will be recorded, it’s time to decide who will have responsibility and authority to manage those risks. This is an essential step, as everyone needs to take responsibility for risk and it’s important that the responsibility for recording those risks is shared.

4. Update risks in real time

In order to manage business risk, it’s essential that you’re able to provide real time data. A software solution that allows you to synchronise safety management systems with staff ID and card machines will allow you to keep up to date with exactly what is going on and who is moving around your organisation each day.

Having a risk register that configures your risk in an ISO friendly framework and allows you to create customised rules and workflows will be essential to help you keep your risks updated and managed.

Are you ready to manage your business risks more effectively? Discover our range of software options that will help you discover and report your business risks effectively!

 

The dangers of incomplete permits to work

Work permits are an essential part of maintaining health and safety measures and providing your team with a safe place to work. Not only that, but they help you remain compliant and stay on top of the ways that people are working within your organisation.

Non-routine tasks normally always require a work permit, whereas more routine tasks may not. The need for a permit can also depend on the person carrying out the task and the ways that these tasks might impact health and safety. 

The goal of a work permit is to outline what is expected of the individual and ensure that more hazardous tasks are always carried out by people who know what they’re doing. From both a health and safety and a legal perspective, permits to work are essential to the day to day running of a business. Take a look at the main dangers of having an incomplete work permit, and what that could mean for your business.

1. Your people won’t know what is expected of them

One of the main benefits of a work permit is that you can provide documented work instructions including details for specific locations, departments, time of day etc and get these signed off by the employee or contractor.

In this sense, a permit to work provides a kind of guide that is agreed upon before work is completed. Without a complete permit to work, there is nothing to go back to and pull up as a kind of contractual agreement of what work is expected. If you don’t complete your permits to work, you put your business at risk of working with unskilled people who don’t know what they’re doing. 

Plus, if it does backfire (eg – they make an error and it costs your business) you won’t have a leg to stand on when it comes to claiming on insurance because you didn’t fully confirm that the person was able and they didn’t sign off on what is expected of them.

2. You won’t be working in a compliant manner

Compliance is a major reason that permits to work exist. If you don’t issue them correctly and fully, you put your business at risk of operating outside of legal requirements. Safety policies are put in place to keep everyone safe – stakeholders, workers and visitors included – and without a work permit your business is essentially ignoring guidelines.

Working in a non-compliant manner can have all kinds of implications on both a legal and moral level. Ensuring that permits to work are complete will give you the best chance of working compliantly and minimising the risk of error.

3. Without permits to work you put your team at risk

Permits to work exist primarily to keep people safe on the job, and without these permits you put your people at risk. This is not only morally problematic, but it makes you liable from a legal and insurance perspective too.

Without a complete work permit, you put your team at risk of:

  • Material hazards, such as Hazardous Substances and Dangerous Goods
  • Temperature risks, including being ill-equipped to work in hot or cold locations
  • Dangerous fumes
  • Electrical hazards
  • Mechanical energy hazards
  • Hazardous areas
  • Height dangers
  • Radioactive substances
  • Many, many more risks that can be posed

What should a permit to work include?

In order to ensure that your permits to work are complete, it can be beneficial to have an online system that notifies you of where you are in the process. This way, you can avoid any miscommunication, loss of paperwork and general difference of completing permits to work.

With a simple to use permit to work software, you will be able to define what your permit to work will cover, describe the precautions necessary and ensure that the individual carrying them out understands what is expected of them. You’ll be able to issue permits to work, deal with permit approvals, audit history of permits and allow sign off on any device including smartphones and tablets.

For more information on how your business could benefit from a permit to work system, get in touch today!

 

 

What are the benefits of an online permit to work solution?

Are you still using a paper based system to manage your permits to work? With an online permit to work solution, you can streamline the process and ensure that you’re fully compliant on site and beyond.

An integrated and safe online system will allow you to increase safety and keep all of your important information together. In turn, this can save money, time and decrease risks that can wreak havoc within your business. Get things done quickly and compliantly with an online permit to work solution, and discover the benefits of moving your permit to work documents online.

Why use an online permit to work software?

1. Online permits to work are much safer

Paper is the more traditional method, however as everything moves to digital, your business risks falling behind if you don’t ensure that your documents are digitally stored. With all permits centrally stored, with dates and certifications easily attached to an individual file, you’ll be able to stay on top of everyone’s permits and minimise risks.

Remaining compliant is essential, not just from a legal perspective, but from a health and safety and insurance perspective too. If you miss off or lose important pieces of information because your paper filing isn’t up to the job then your business could be at serious risk. It’s much easier to use an online software solution that issues permits to work and flags if you might be at risk of non compliance, than try to manage it yourself with a paper system.

2. Online permit to work solutions mean faster sign off

With an online system, you’ll be able to send the relevant documents to the person that needs to see them quickly and easily. Paper can be hard to get in front of the right person, is easy to lose and inevitably takes a lot longer to sign off on than an online document.

An online permit to work allows you to issue real-time permits that can be updated and edited as the project goes along. This speeds up the whole process from issuing the permit to managing it, and makes it everyone’s responsibility to stay on top of essential business safety admin. 

3. Your documents will be organised more effectively

No one really likes doing the essential paperwork, but when everything is organised nicely by an online solution, it makes things a lot easier. Tasks can be ordered by number, site and date so that you can access the information you need quickly and easily.

Having all of the information centrally located means that when the job is finished you can close the forms and more on. In this sense, you won’t have loads of paper with confidential information that needs to be destroyed or filed after the job is finished. With an online system you’ll always have access to the information you need on your contractors without having piles of paper around you.

4. Everyone will be able to use the software from different devices

When you need a permit to work to be issued quickly, paper is no good. With mobile technology meaning that everyone can access the important documents in the palm of their hands, online permit solutions help keep front line workers in the loop.

This means that your business can run smoothly without any disruptions as contractors will be able to quickly and easily complete their permit to work pre-arriving on site.

5. You’ll make your manager’s lives easier

With an online permit to work solution, managers can quickly identify and rectify any conflicting work activities without having to go through lots of paperwork. With the paper trail that is provided for all permits, your team leaders will be able to see everything in one place. Plus, new users will be guided through the system quickly and easily.

We know that motivating your people to fill in all the relevant paperwork correctly isn’t always easy, so making the process more simple for them is a sure fire way to encourage them to get it done.

Are you looking for the perfect online permit to work solution for your business? Take a look at Beakon’s offering and start your business’ journey to paperless today!

 

 

What is a permit to work software?

During the current crisis, businesses are being offered the opportunity to slow down and reflect on the business processes that run without us thinking. Of these crucial processes is the permit to work process.

Often, the need for a permit to work is a pretty urgent requirement, so the focus is on getting it done quickly rather than ensuring that the software or process behind getting it issued is streamlined.

To help you decide whether your permit to work process is working for you or against you, we’re explaining what a permit to work software is and how it can boost your business.

Why are permits to work important?

A permit to work is an essential legal requirement for tasks that have the potential to affect the health and safety of other people. Essentially, we need permits to work to ensure that the people doing the job are qualified and able to do the job safely.

The permit to work proves that the person carrying out the task has the relevant certifications and skills to do so safely, and takes into account any conflicting tasks or hazards that may arise on the job. It’s essential that the permit to work is issued, or the individual may be working illegally.

One of the main purposes of a permit to work is to assign a responsible person to each task, so that risk assessment and safety checks are performed at each stage. A permit to work will set out procedures and instructions for the task at hand, and should localise all the relevant information such as expiry dates, work history and certifications so that it’s easy to see whether the individual is qualified for the task.

What is a permit to work software?

Traditionally, a permit to work could be issued by hand effectively. This would involve lots of paperwork, which could easily be lost. If you’re reading this and thinking ‘we still do it by hand’, we’re here to tell you that there’s a much better way!

A permit to work software replaces the old paper-based system, saving you time and limiting the mistakes that can be made as a result of working with paper. This software allows you to streamline the process and improve functionality, as well as integrating the permit to work process with other management software products like risk management and task management.

What should permit to work software include?

Permit to work software should be easy to use and should be set up to compliment other business workflows and processes. It should ensure that the approvals are easy to obtain from the relevant person and then are displayed clearly with dates and certifications attached for reference.

A permit to work software should be able to:

  • Issue permit to work
  • Collate information together clearly
  • Deal with permit approvals
  • Keep records of permit history and access history
  • Work on an array of devices 

Beakon Permit To Work Software

The Beakon permit to work software is used by some of the world’s largest companies in high-risk sectors, and has been rigorously tested to ensure that it offers all of the functionality to manage your site safely.

Our system helps contractors, employees, and site visitors remain compliant so that you don’t have to chase them. You can also reduce cost of risks, non-compliance, administration, as well as delays caused by document loss. 

Most importantly, Beakon’s Permit to Work system reduces the likelihood of safety breaches in the workplace. All actions are logged, time stamped, and recorded, providing a easily-accessible audit trail.

Take control of your site access quickly and easily; contact Beakon today and find out how our Permit to Work System can protect your staff and business.

4 reasons spreadsheets aren’t always the answer

If you’ve recently started working from home, you probably already know the stresses and strains of working with spreadsheets. Whilst they can be an effective way to manage information, they are not always the best solution to dealing with large sums of important data – which they’re often used for.

We completely understand how it’s done. We’ve all been there. You started an excel spreadsheet years ago, filled it with important information and now it’s become too big to stop adding to it. You need a new solution but you’re putting it off until the time is right.

If that sounds like you, here’s why you need to move away from spreadsheets and think about a more tailored solution for your business.

Spreadsheets aren’t always easy to share (especially if they’re big!)

If you’ve ever tried to share a spreadsheet, you’ll have noticed that the first issue you have is usually that the file is too big for most email providers. This can be a real pain and can make security an issue if you have to use a third party sharing platform to get the spreadsheet to other members of your team.

Once you have successfully shared it, you may have noticed that often the features of the spreadsheet won’t have pulled through – this is especially true for excel. Once the spreadsheet has been shared, often you can’t add features like conditional formatting, data validation, lists and pivot tables.

Whilst spreadsheets do allow you to create a shared workbook, they are often tricky to send and once they are sent, often things don’t work as they did before which can waste time and cause confusion.

Editing isn’t as easy as other platforms

Only one person can use most spreadsheets at once. Even in cloud-based spreadsheets, active edits can only be accessed by one person, which means that you could be doubling up on work or working from the wrong information due to a sharing delay. If you have remote workers who need to work collaboratively, or see data in real-time, then this can be an issue.

Spreadsheets are also harder to edit as they can’t be integrated into other systems for automatic updating. In short, editing spreadsheets is a lot trickier than having your own tailored platform or software that is specifically designed for the amount of people in your team. 

They’re vulnerable to errors

Spreadsheets rely on human experience, and this means one thing – human error. In fact, Oracle has estimated that 90% of spreadsheets have errors. Of course, in a spreadsheet with lots of data, one tiny mistake can cause a whole host of problems.

Spreadsheets make it easy for human errors to occur as their features like lack of check and balances make them harder to use than a system that is designed for the exact kind of information you are entered.

They’re very generic

Spreadsheets can be amazing tools for a variety of tasks, however if you have a specific business need they can hold your business back. Whilst your competitors might have different software systems for each individual task, if you’re using a spreadsheet to do everything it’s likely that you’re going to fall behind.

Spreadsheets are generic, which means that they can’t always manage your data as well as other systems. For example, it’s much more effective to use a contractor management software for contractor data, learning management systems for keeping track of employee training, and a risk register software instead of a spreadsheet with recorded incidents.

If you’re ready to start improving your business tools and moving away from spreadsheets to keep your compliance and safety on track, take a look at our software offering

 

How to manage a workforce in the face of a pandemic

It’s official – we’re in the grips of a pandemic.

Whilst that can be a cause for panic, with the right tools and team behind you, businesses can survive and even thrive in the current conditions. If you’re struggling to know how to handle the current coronavirus outbreak, take a look at our tips on how to manage a workforce in the face of a pandemic.

What is Covid-19?

Covid-19 was first reported back in December in Wuhan, China and has since spread across the globe. According to the government guidelines on Coronaviruses, they’re a large family of viruses that cause respiratory infections. These can range from the common cold to more serious diseases.

As most of us know, this new coronavirus that has emerged can have serious implications and causes symptoms such as fever, flu-like symptoms such as coughing, sore throat and fatigue and shortness of breath.

Due to the contagious nature of the disease, many countries are going into self-isolation, which has caused disruptions to businesses in Australia and beyond. In light of the Covid-19 situation, businesses need to come up with new ways to manage and supervise their workforce remotely.

How can companies manage their employees effectively?

Here are some tips on how to manage your people during this turbulent time:

  • Ensure you have the infrastructure in place to support working from home

When we think about the infrastructure necessary for our people to be able to effectively work from home, often we think about the laptops, mobile phones, printers and other technology that is required. However, they’re not the only essentials that need to be considered. The infrastructure needed whilst employees work remotely includes the need to effectively manage risk and keeping you on the right track when it comes to safety and compliance too.

  • Be sure to put safety first

It goes without saying that employee safety should be the main concern of any business at the moment. This is likely to mean that employees will need to work from home in order to stop the spread of Coronavirus. It’s essential that measures are taken to keep everyone safe and well and that any incidents are tracked. A safety management software can help you record incidents and work out the associated costs too.

  • Find effective ways to communicate hours worked

Before your people start working from home, it’s a good idea to discuss how hours will be tracked and whether employees will need to record their hours of work (for example, in relation to annualised wages).

  • Use a task tracker to keep on top of things

Managing employees is hard enough when they’re in the office, so with remote work becoming more prevalent this is only becoming harder. Using a task tracker can be a great way to give your business flexible tools to allocate tasks, manage progress and keep projects on track.

How can companies manage their contractors effectively?

Casual employees and contractors are harder to manage in these uncertain times. They don’t have sick entitlement under the National Employment Standards, but it’s up to your business how you handle your contractors who may become sick from coronavirus or need to self-isolate.

Ensuring that you help your contractors manage their workload, keep on top of business admin and continue to work, could be essential to their livelihoods and also essential to running your business and keeping the economy afloat on whole.

Here’s how you can manage contractors effectively during the coronavirus outbreak.

  • Read the workplace laws

First things first, it’s a good idea to refresh your memory on what contractors are entitled to and how your business should handle contractors by law. Knowing what people are entitled to will help you negotiate their work from home terms with full transparency.

  • Assess whether they can work remotely

Ideally, contractors would be able to work remotely, however we all know that in many industries this simply isn’t possible. Assess whether their work can be completed remotely whilst they may be self-isolating and consider using software that allows you to task manage if they are going to be working remotely.

  • Deal with contractors transparently and effectively

Keep on top of everything with software that allows your contractors to login and supply any relevant information you may need whilst they work away from a manager. Reducing data entry and keeping on top of contractor work should be a priority in order to ensure time is not wasted.

Managing a workforce in the face of a pandemic isn’t going to be easy, but with some smart thinking and effective tools, your business can get through this phase. For more information, take a look at the official government guidelines on Covid-19.

WHS Management System: Examples and Key Components

Are you unsure where to start with your Work Health and Safety (WHS) provisions?

In today’s post, we’re going to be looking at examples of Work Health and Safety Management systems and unpacking some of their key components.

We’ll show you how simple and easy WHS management systems make it for businesses just like yours to comply with their Work Health and Safety obligations.

 

In this post, we’ll be discussing the following areas:

  • What is a WHS Management System?
  • What types of WHS Management systems are there?
  • Paper-based WHS Management Systems
  • Key Components of Paper-based WHS Management Systems
  • Hybrid WHS Management Systems
  • Key Components of Hybrid WHS Management Systems
  • Software-based WHS Management System
  • Key Components of Software-based WHS Management Systems

Let’s get right to it!

What is a WHS Management System?

WHS management doesn’t need to be complicated.

Yet that’s exactly how thousands of Australian businesses feel about their WHS provisions.

Look.

At its core, a WHS management system is any system that helps a business create a safer workplace environment.

There are five main goals of any WHS management system.

It must help a business:

  • Comply with Australian legislative requirements and standards,
  • Create a safe workplace
  • Improve worker safety and happiness
  • Increase productivity
  • Improve the business’ bottom line

As we’ll see in the next section, there are several different types of WHS management systems, but what they have in common is that they all aim to accomplish these five main goals.

To do this, all WHS management systems cover the following eight areas:

Policies and procedures

WHS management systems help businesses to streamline the process of authoring and distributing key documents, such as safe work procedures (SWPs) and other policies.

Audits and inspection

WHS management systems help businesses to record the outcomes of physical inspections on-site via and determine the correct actions.

Safety training Management

A key feature of WHS management systems is that they help organizations to manage worker information including tracking KPI’s, training records and assessments. This helps to ensure that workers stay up-to-date with their training.

Risk management

WHS management systems help a business to identify all workplace hazards and risks. This helps the organisation create a risk profile and prioritize the necessary corrective actions that must be taken.

Incident management

WHS management systems also help businesses record and manage all types of incidents, such as near misses, injuries, property damage, and environmental incidents.

Asset management

WHS management systems help a business to register their key assets such as machinery, vehicles and plant equipment. This helps managers complete important tasks such as schedule inspections and follow up with maintenance.

Chemical management

For companies that store or manage chemicals, WHS management systems help ensure that all chemical-related regulations are complied with.

Contractor management

WHS management systems help companies to supply contractors will all relevant documents and licenses.

As we’ll see, there are different types of WHS management systems and they all help in different ways.

What types of WHS Management systems are there?

Broadly speaking, there are three main types of WHS management systems, as follows:

  • Paper Based
  • Software-Based
  • A combination of paper-based and software-based (i.e. Hybrid)

All Australian businesses, regardless of type, size or organizational structure, will use a WHS management system that fits into one of these three categories.

In the following sections, we’ll look at examples and types of WHS management systems within each of these three categories. We’ll also look at the 10 key elements of WHS management systems to show what they look like and how they work.

Paper-based WHS Management Systems

The first type of WHS management system is the traditional paper-based approach.

This offers the following key benefits:

  • Low cost
  • Simple
  • Customizable

For these reasons, paper-based WHS management systems are favoured by many small Australian businesses. However, as this type of system relies on paper reports, there needs to be three lines of defence to ensure that all critical WHS data is captured and processed; the WHS manager, the managers, and the workers.

However, paper-based WHS management systems have the following disadvantages:

  • Space
    Story WHS paperwork in filing cabinets takes up valuable office space.
  • Data sharing and access
    The WHS manager must ensure that only relevant data is shared with other staff members.

So what are the key components of a paper-based WHS management system?

Key Components of paper-based WHS management systems

In this section, we’ll look at the key components of paper-based WHS management systems.

Policies and procedures

Paper-based WHS management systems will have written safe work procedures (SWPs) and other policies created by the WHS manager or other key stakeholders in the organization. These documents will be stored in a filing cabinet.

Audits and inspection

With a paper-based WHS management system, all audits and inspections will be stored as hard copies. Responsibility for recording the outcomes of inspections and assigned the appropriate action will fall to the WHS manager or staff.

Safety training Management

Paper-based WHS management system will rely on written records of worker training and assessments to help inform key decisions about which members of staff require further training.

Risk management

Paper-based WHS management systems use hard copies of risk assessments to record and identify all workplace hazards and risks. The company’s WHS manager will create a risk profile and prioritize the necessary corrective actions that must be taken.

Incident, asset, and chemical management

In terms of incident, asset and chemical management, Paper-based WHS management systems relying on hard copies of documents to record all types of incidents, vehicle and equipment registration, and scheduled maintenance. All chemical management will be stored as hard copies.

Hybrid WHS management Systems

The second type of WHS management system is a hybrid between a traditional paper-based WHS management system and WHS management system software.

This offers the following key benefits over the paper-based approach:

  • Reduced storage space for documents
  • Better informed staff
  • Easier access to documents
  • Greater potential for information sharing and oversight

For these reasons, hybrid WHS management systems are favoured by many small-to-medium sized Australian businesses.

Hybrid WHS approaches are a low-cost way of ensuring that WHS-related documents and information are shared within an organization. As documents are often stored as both hard copies and as paper-based documents, there is less risk of document loss and great potential for sharing within an organization.

However, hybrid WHS management systems have the following disadvantages compared with full software approaches:

  • Limited data sharing and access (compared with WHS software solutions)
  • Limited oversight
  • No automation

So what are the key components of a hybrid WHS management system?

Key Components of paper-based WHS management systems

In this section we’ll look at the key components of hybrid WHS management systems.

Policies and procedures

Hybrid WHS management systems feature written safe work procedures (SWPs) and other policies created by the WHS manager or other key stakeholders in the organization. These documents will often be stored as hard AND soft copies, improving data sharing across the business.

Audits and inspection

Hybrid WHS management system still use hard copies of audits and inspections but may also use software-based approaches such as cloud-based scheduling software. This lets a larger workforce keep abreast of the outcomes of inspections and any actions assigned to them.

Safety training Management

Hybrid WHS management system will use a software-based approach such as spreadsheets to help inform key decisions about which members of staff require further training.

Risk management

Hybrid WHS management systems use both hard and soft copies of risk assessments to record and identify all workplace hazards and risks. This gives more members of staff access to this information and makes it easier for the company’s WHS manager will create a risk profile and prioritize the necessary corrective actions that must be taken.

Incident, asset, and chemical management

Hybrid WHS management will use both hard and soft copies of forms to record all types of incidents, vehicle and equipment registration and scheduled maintenance. Some systems may use electronic forms to record and store these types of incidents.

Software-based WHS management systems

The third type of WHS management system is an entirely software-based.

Although WHS software is commonly used by medium to large Australian businesses, it is versatile enough to be used by any business, regardless of type, size or organizational structure.

Software WHS management systems differ significantly from both paper-based and hybrid approaches to WHS.

They offer a number of advantages:

  • Automated processes
  • Regulatory oversight and compliance
  • Improved data access

Let’s look at some examples of a software-based WHS management system and explore its key components.

The most popular and common type of WHS management system is the modular, cloud-based approach.

This type of software-based WHS management system helps organisations to simply and effectively comply with their Work Health and Safety obligations.

How?

By using integrated modules, the software can automatically generate WHS plans and safety plans, helping the business stay productive and profitable while avoiding regulatory non-compliance issues.

This software works by using a proprietary databased of safety records to generate safety documents for the staff to use.

The software is designed to help the business automatically address all current legislative requirements and standards, including Work Health and Safety Act 2011, and the Work Health and Safety Regulation 2011.

Key Components of software-based WHS management systems

Software-based WHS management systems typically feature the following key components.

Simplified incident management

Unlike paper-based and hybrid WHS management systems, fully software-based WHS management systems give your staff a wide range of easy-to-use tools that they can use to record and manage all incidents, including injuries, near misses, environmental incidents and property damage. For example, you can put up signs on your premises that your workers simply scan with an app on their smartphone when they need to report a hazard or log an incident. Once completed, the app saves it to the cloud and the management system is updated in real-time.

Active risk management

Unlike paper-based and hybrid WHS management systems, fully software-based WHS management systems can autonomously identify a variety of workplace hazards (based on data submitted by members of staff such as incident report forms and hazard reports) and then use this data to create a risk profile for your business. The software then uses this profile and prioritises the necessary corrective actions for your business, helping to actively manage risks.

Easy asset management

One of the main advantages of full software-based WHS management systems is that you can use them to register all of your key assets, including your vehicles, plant equipment and machinery. This helps you dramatically simplify things like your pre-start inspections and helps your staff members report on conditions and maintenance requirements with ease.

Customized reporting

One area where full software-based WHS management systems really come into their own is with customized reporting. You can use the software to access granular safety statistics in real-time and generate highly customisable dashboard reports. This lets you and your staff members monitor key metrics through hundreds of pre-set dynamic reports.

Easy chemical management

If your business is responsible for storing and handling chemicals, software-based WHS management systems are unbeatable. The software is built to automatically check an extensive database of chemical safety information and automate all compliance requirements relating to the storage, use and handling of chemicals. This takes the pressure off your staff and helps ensure that your business is in full regulatory compliance at all times.

Improved HR Safety Management

Software-based WHS management systems are great for handling crucial worker information, including training records, assessed competencies and track completion of required KPI’s. This helps you track who has been trained for what, when their training is due to expire and when they need a refresher course. This helps you keep your staff fully trained at all times.

Conclusion

If you were curious about the examples and key components of WHS management systems, that’s about it!

As you’ve seen, WHS software is special software that is dedicated to streamlining and automating your workplace safety obligations.

With the right WHS management system software in place, you can be sure that things like errors in manual reporting, breakdowns in communications and outdated compliance documentation don’t leave your business exposed to liabilities and penalties!

Take the complexity out of WHS management with WHS management system software today! Sign up now for a free trial or call us for a free consultation from one of our safety professionals!

Related posts

How to Choose the Right Health and Safety App for Your Organisation

Are you someone who is trying to make sure that your business is compliant with all the latest health and safety rules?

Have you considered there may be an app for that?

With the ‘app era‘ officially in full swing, there’s never been an easier time for Australian businesses to comply with the latest regulatory requirements, especially if they have the right app at the ready!

However, a plethora of choices means that choosing the right health and safety app isn’t always straightforward. You have to make sure that you select the right application for your needs and understand exactly what you’re getting yourself into before you sign up for a free trial!

In this post, we’ll explore everything you need to know to choose the right health and safety app for your organization.

Today, we’ll be discussing the following topics:

  • What are Health and Safety apps?
  • The Benefits of Health and Safety Apps
  • What to consider when choosing a Health and Safety App

If you’re ready to find out more, then when not grab a coffee, clear your schedule, and get started?

What Are Health and Safety Apps?

So that we all start off on the same page, it is first worth considering what a health and safety app actually is: What does it look like? Who uses one? And why?

Health and Safety apps are usually part of a suite of programs that collectively make up occupational health and safety management system software packages. These packages are popular with businesses and organizations that want to streamline and optimize their health and safety processes. The software helps to manage, allocate and automate a range of tasks such as filing incident reports, scheduling maintenance, checking compliance, and more.

Why apps? Well, the developers behind these software packages want to make their software as accessible as possible. As apps are specifically designed to be downloaded onto mobile devices such as smartphones or tablets, they are the perfect way to make management software more accessible. Apps essentially put the power of the management software into the hands of the people who need it most; the members or staff and contractors!

Health and safety apps offer members of staff all the benefits of the health and safety management system software, but with the convenience of having it on a mobile device! In other words, it makes the system as accessible as possible for every staff member, third-party contractor or visitor so that they can capture relevant data or review health and safety information contained in the system.

The Benefits of Health and Safety Apps

Using a health and safety app comes with many exciting benefits! Apps are versatile enough to be used by any business, regardless of its organizational structure, size or type. You’ll find businesses in almost every sector, from agriculture and forestry to mining, construction, transport, and warehousing that use health and safety apps. So what are the main benefits of health and safety apps?

There are three main benefits:

Maximize onsite efficiency
Real-time access
Ease of use

Maximize onsite efficiency

Having a health and safety app put the power of your entire health and safety management system into the palms of your workers’ hands! As the system is cloud-based, your staff can access it via their app on ANY mobile device with an internet connection. This lets them access, review and capture data in the field, no matter where they are.

Whether your staff members need to report a hazard in the bush, complete an audit from the bottom of a lift shaft or even file an incident report from the depths of a mine shaft, a health and safety app lets them do just that! This means that they can maximize their onsite efficiency and complete more within the same time frame, compared with using a health and safety management system that’s only accessible from a computer.

But the latest range of health and safety apps take efficiency one step further. They recognize that there may be times and places where internet connections aren’t available – you know, down a mine shaft, out in the bush, or otherwise ‘off-the-grid’. To address this, the apps feature offline functionality. This means that your staff can still use the app to file an incident report or log a hazard even if they don’t have an internet connection. The data is saved locally to their mobile device and is then uploaded to the cloud when they get back online, helping to maximize their productivity!

Real-time access

The second benefit of health and safety apps is that they offer real-time access to all your staff,  workers, visitors and contractors. This is possible because, as we mentioned, the software is cloud-based and can be accessed and updated in real-time from any device with an internet connection. This ensures that vital health and safety information is available in real-time to all required staff.

To understand why this is helpful, consider a scenario where a member of staff is conducting a site risk assessment at an open-air mine. Without a health and safety app, they would have to complete a paper-based form and then submit the form when they returned to your main premises. Far from ideal, is it?

With a health and safety app, the worker can complete the risk assessment via the app, and it will automatically upload to the system as soon as they regain internet connectivity. This not only saves valuable time but the system can automatically share the data from the risk assessment with all relevant staff members as soon as it’s uploaded! This helps keep the entire organization in the loop about the latest developments as they occur.

Ease of use

The third and arguably most important benefit of health and safety apps is ease of use. Many organizations tick all the boxes in terms of meeting their health and safety obligations but still have a less than ideal uptake rate! One of the main reasons is that following health and safety procedures is just too complicated for staff. Health and safety apps simplified ANY process and make it much more likely that staff members participate actively in their health and safety obligations.

How?

Firstly, health and safety apps are designed to work on ANY mobile device regardless of its operating system. So whether your staff prefers iOS, Android, Windows, or Linux, they can easily download the health and safety app on their preferred mobile device. This means that they can take the app with them whether they go and access it on the move.

Secondly, apps can be configured to bring up specific forms using either QR codes or NFC (Near-Field Communication) tags. This takes the hassle out of mundane, yet critically important, tasks such as filing an incident report or conducting a risk assessment. For example, you can put up special signs around your premises that promote the type of action you want to focus on. These signs contain special NFC interactive labels that allow you to attach dynamic information to any information point or physical object on your premises. In conjunction with the app, this provides instant easy access to staff, visitors or contractors.

Let’s say you want to improve incident reporting. You can put up NFC signs that read, ‘Incident Reporting: To report an incident from this point, tap here with your NFC enabled device or scan this QR code’. Your workers simply take their mobile device and open the app and then tap or scan the sign. This brings up the correct form which they complete and they then hit ‘send’ and the form is automatically uploaded to the system.

This approach not only improves engagement rates but it minimizes admin errors and creates a timelier, more accurate record of what’s happening on your premises.

What to consider when choosing a Health and Safety App

Selecting health and safety apps is not an easy task. Although most leading health and safety management software is designed to be used by any business regardless of size, type or structure, you still need to consider which app is most suitable for the specific needs and requirements of your business. The application will be an investment, and so appropriate research must be conducted to ensure that the correct decision is made.

Here are three simple areas to consider when choosing a health and safety app for your organization.

Look for key features that suit your needs

Begin by conducting a ‘self-study’ of your business or organization and determining your specific needs. Draw up a list of things that are important to you such as push notifications, electronic signing, GPS tracking, and offline functionality. To a large extent, these needs will be determined by your industry. If you’re in mining or construction and your workers are frequently working remotely without internet access, then offline functionality (where the app can still work without an internet connection) will likely be a higher priority than if you were in, say, warehousing, where your workers could be almost guaranteed to have a fast, stable internet connection throughout most of their working day.

Once you’ve drawn up a list of your needs, you can start comparing different health and safety management system software and seeing which ones meet your needs. This process ensures that you choose an app that offers easy mobile access for everyone who needs it across your entire business.

Look at app ratings

The second way that you can choose the best health and safety application for your organization is by reviewing the rating the app has gained on an app store such as Google Play or the Apple store, or by looking at review sites.

Almost every digital App Store has the ability to review and leave feedback for specific apps. You can identify what users of the app really think about the health and safety app and get a sense of how it holds up in the real world. It is also wise to review the written feedback from users because this provides real testimony.

For instance, if a software company claims that their health and safety app lets you manage health and safety compliance on-site with mobile access, take a look at the review and see what real users think. Do they find it easy to use? Are health and safety forms easy to access via the app? Do the app’s features like push notifications or offline monitoring work? How often is the app updated? This approach helps you cut through the sales hype in marketing literature and find out how real-world users find the app in practice.

Ask for recommendations

Unlike highly sensitive data such as that related to sales, health and safety obligations fall equally on ALL businesses and organisations and other companies are willing to offer recommendations based on their own unbiased experiences. You can search online or approach contacts for their suggestions. Many companies and stakeholders will share their knowledge because they will once have been in your position. They understand that finding the right health and safety app that offers proper system benefits and help you meet your compliance obligations is no mean feat. They’ll be happy to share.

Conclusion

In summary, health and safety apps offer a range of exciting benefits but it can be tough to choose the right app for your organisation. Finding an app that offers the right resources and meets your requirements is not easy. But it can be done!

We’ve offered you a simple guide to the best features to look for and a fool-proof plan for matching the software offerings with the needs of your organization. With time, care and enough research, you’ll find the right health and safety app for your needs.

Whatever stage of the process you are at, whether you currently have a health and safety app in place or are looking to shift from a paper-based system to an electronic one, we can help!

Contact us today to find out how Beakon software can help your organization achieve its goals for a safe and secure workplace!

Related posts:

10 Benefits of Occupational Health and Safety Management Systems
8 key components of occupational health and safety management systems

ultimate Guide to choose the right OHS management software

The Ultimate Guide to Choosing the Right OHS Management Software

What is this guide about?

Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) software has become a vital part of the IT package for many businesses. But what exactly is it and how can you choose the best OHS management software for your organisation? To answer these questions, we have created our Ultimate Guide to Choosing the Right OHS Management Software.

This guide covers a wide range of topics, including how to how to switch from paper to software, how to use software to improve employee safety, and how to choose the right OHS solution for your business. Whether you are planning to pursue a health and safety accreditation for your business or are simply tired sifting through piles of paper, our guide will provide you with everything you need to know about choosing the right OHS management software.

Contents

1. What is OHS Management Software?
2. Why is OHS Management Software important?
3. Paper to software: Why should you change?
4. Build vs Buy: Which is right for your organization?
5. How to choose the right OHS management software
6. Taking your next steps

1. What is OHS Management Software?

OHS Management Software is the backbone of a company’s safety management system. It offers a systemic approach to managing health and safety and helps ensure that a business complies will all current Health and Safety legislation. The software should be able to cover the complete spectrum of an organization’s OHS process.

Some of the key elements covered by leading OHS Management Software include:

  • Health and safety workplace policy
  • The process for accident and ill-health prevention
  • Procedures and resources for developing the OHS policy

2. Why is OHS Management Software important?

Organizations without OHS Management Software may lack a structured system for health and safety and can feel as though they are fighting an uphill battle against ever-changing rules and regulations. OHS management software helps a business minimize risk to their employees and reduce the likelihood of an incident. This protects the business and its reputation, by helping to ensure that day-to-day operations run smoothly.

But preventing accidents and reducing risk is only one small part of what OHS management software can do. OHS management software also promotes business efficiency by enabling long-term health and safety planning, including training requirements and resource needs. This lowers costs and helps keep businesses aware of the latest legislation.

OHS management software can also help organisations communicate health and safety requirements to all of their employees. This helps the business avoid expensive fines that can result from failing to comply with health and safety laws. Recently, businesses in tenders have been required to have a certified OHS management system in place, making them essential for general business.

3. Paper to software: Why should you change?

Many businesses are starting to adopt OHS management software to modernize and streamline their health and safety processes. If you are still managing your health and safety management processes with paper, here are five reasons to consider making the change to OHS management software.

Better compliance

Many health and safety duties are time-sensitive and it may cause problems if employees forget to check written tasks or reports. Unlike paper-based systems, OHS management software can give automated prompts and reminders to employees. It can also keep your organization updated on the latest legislative changes, and ensure complete regulatory compliance.

Less clutter

Paper-based OHS management systems may not be viable for many medium and large businesses. They take up valuable office space and documents are difficult to sort through. This hampers an organization’s efforts to increase levels of efficiency. Online or cloud-based OHS management systems let you store limitless files without the need for physical filing cabinets. This can be especially useful for smaller businesses with premises where space is at a premium.

Improved collaboration

Digital documentation makes it easier to identify the origin of a document and track any changes made. Files are easier to sort and manage compared with paper documents that can be lost or misplaced. This makes collaboration easier and reduces the time spent looking for specific files or documents.

Improved security

Software systems reduce the chances of documents being lost or destroyed. They also make it easier to have inspections, and for staff to have offsite meetings, work remotely or work from home, without any risk of documents being lost.

Lower costs

OHS management software lets you restrict access to certain documents, or make them available at will, as you see fit. While data loss is still possible, making a back-up on hard drives is simpler and cheaper than backing up paper documents. While there are initial costs of implementing an OHS management software system, organizations will likely see a return on their investment in terms of reduced storage costs.

4. Build vs Buy: Which is right for your organization?

You’ve decided that your organization needs OHS management software but with many different options available, which should you choose?

Your main options are:

  • Build a software solution yourself (in-house)
  • Bring one in (buy software or use a cloud-based solution)
  • Adopt a hybrid approach

To understand which approach could suit your organization, it’s important to understand the differences between managing your own software in-house and buying software or using a cloud-based OHS management system. In this guide, we’ll be exploring the advantages and disadvantages of each option and then offering some tips for choosing the right OHS solution for your business.

Cloud-based OHS management systems

Cloud-based OHS management systems offer a number of benefits and disadvantages compared with in-house software solutions.

Advantages

Cloud-based OHS management systems can help:

  • Minimize capital expenditure
    Cloud OHS management systems allow access to resourses without large capital expenditures. They are great for start-ups where cash flow is tight. The pricing model is ‘pay for what you use’.
  • Disaster recovery
    Cloud-based backups minimize the risk that sensitive health and safety data is lost.
  • Immediate capacity
    If you need to sudden increase or decrease the amount of data you store, cloud-based options excel at providing flexibility and are highly scalable.

Disadvantages

Cloud-based OHS management software isn’t always superior to building in-house OHS solutions. Examples of drawbacks include:

  • Skyrocketing fees
    Start-ups and small organizations may be tempted to sign up for cloud-based OHS management software services and then find that the fees skyrocket as their usage increases.
  • Poor performance
    With data stored in the cloud, the speed of the service is dependent on internet connection speeds and the location of the servers where the data is stored.
  • Cybersecurity issues
    Cloud-based OHSB management solutions may expose organizations to cybersecurity issues that in-house IT software wouldn’t.

In-house OHS management software

Developing your own OHS management software has a range of advantages and disadvantages compared with using a cloud-based solution.

Advantages

Developing OHS management software in-house typically offers the following benefits:

  • Higher security
    In-house software can help shield a company from the risk of cybersecurity threats that using a cloud-based service may expose them to. In some cases, cyber-security attacks may lead to a breach of data. In-house software carries a lower risk as most variables are within the company’s control.
  • Improved performance and reliability
    If properly set up, in-house software can offer better performance and reliability that public or shared cloud-based solutions. This is because many cloud service providers operate their service via dispersed locations, creating latency issues that users are often forced to pay exorbitant fees to avoid. Organizations that own their own infrastructure and develop their own OHS management software have complete control over their OHS management: they can implement new features, make fixes, or initiate changes without being reliant on a cloud provider.
  • Lower costs
    While in-house software has a high initial development cost that cloud-based OHS management software, it may prove to be more cost-effective over time, if managed correctly. It depends on the monthly cost. For some large organizations, the monthly cost of using a cloud-based solution (say AU$30,000) may exceed the cost of developing software in house. On the other hand, some companies, especially start-ups, with limited data requirements will find that cloud-storage offers the best value.

Disadvantages

Developing OHS management software in-house may have the following drawbacks:

  • High set-up costs
    Developing in-house OHS management software requires a significant up-front investment, compared with using cloud-based software.
  • Lack of scalability
    While cloud services operate on a ‘pay-what-you-use’ model and are easy to scale, in-house management software will require further investment if your data requirements increase.

5. How to choose the right OHS management software

You’ll likely hear many differing opinions as to whether it’s better to build a software solution yourself or bring one in. Ultimately, your choice will be guided by the following five essential considerations.

These are:

  • Connected processes
  • GDPR procedures
  • Mobile capabilities
  • Transparency
  • Engaging your workforce

We’ll look at each of these areas to help you weigh up which approach would best suit your organization. You’ll want to use these considerations to decide which OHS management software would work for you.

Connected processes

If you’re interested in making your work life a lot easier, you may be interested in buying OHS management software that uses a ‘connected processes’ model. This model helps ensure that all staff can track changes made to any of your health and safety documents. You can see the origin of documents and view any changes or updates made and the date they were made. This connected system makes safety management far simpler and helps keep all staff up to date on the latest changes. OHS management software built around a connected system ensures that your company is always in compliance with the latest OHS legislation.

GDPR procedures

If your organization operates in any markets where the EU’s GDPR must be implemented, you’ll likely already know how important this is for health and safety. Your HR department and IT experts have probably already been sent on courses so that they know how to comply with GDPR. If this is a consideration for your business, bringing in OHS management software can help ensure that you comply with GDPR rules at all times.

Mobile capabilities

If you want your staff to have access to your OHS documents in an easy-to-use way, buying OHS management software can help. The latest software packages offer specialised apps that offer your staff a secure way to view and manage documents on the go, whether they are meeting remotely, working from home or having an off-site meeting. If mobile capabilities are important for your business, bringing in OHS management software may be more economical than trying to develop your own mobile app in-house.

Transparency

When choosing the right OHS management software for your business, you need to be aware of transparency. If you are keen to buy software, look carefully at the pricing model used by the company and check for hidden costs. For example, some cloud-based models may charge you based on the number of admins you have, dramatically increasing your monthly costs. You’ll want to carefully examine pricing when weighing up whether to develop your own software in-house or bring one in. Investing in OHS management software solution can be nerve-racking, so you must have complete clarity on the costs before you start transforming your health and safety management system with a software or cloud-based solution. Transparency of your data is another consideration. Many businesses worry about control and access to their data, making is a significant factor in choosing to implement OSH management software. If bringing in software, look at the safeguards in place to ensure that your data remains secure and protected at all times. If data security is a high priority, it may make sense to develop your own OHS management software in-house.

Engaging your workforce

If you want to make health and safety a priority in your organization, it is vital that your employees feel engaged. They must find it as easy as possible to report incidents or hazards and management must feel comfortable conducting regular safety checks and tasks. One reason to bring in an OHS management software solution is that it helps foster a positive safety culture within your business. With a comprehensive software solution, employees feel like participants in safety procedures, not passive observers. They feel empowered to make a difference but highlighting unsafe aspects of your business and helping you to improve. How? Some software solutions offer a mobile app that lets users submit incident reports and observations. This eliminates paper-based reporting and helps boost engagement among employees who feel more comfortable using a social-media style app.

6. Taking your next steps

These five important considerations should help you find the best OHS management software solution for your organization. Making radical changes to your health and safety system can be daunting, but with the right approach, you can confidently choose the right solution.