Cloud-Based Safety: Perfect for Working from Home
The shift to working-from-home didn’t start with Covid, of course, but that worldwide calamity clearly accelerated the trend. Businesses of all kinds scrambled to retool for the WFH era, at first with ad-hoc approaches, then with more efficient and secure solutions.
Fortunately, many safety directors and their staffers leapfrogged over the challenges, with EHS management SaaS (software as a service) products that had already gotten a foothold by 2020. Online access to a common EHS management platform was originally planned for operations with multiple locations, and construction teams deployed over a variety of worksites.
But the real-time metrics, collaboration features, and linked functions have also given EHS compliance professionals the chance to do their job from anywhere, with any internet-connected device.
Technology Consolidation: Everything in One Place
Managing Environmental Health and Safety compliance is hard enough without having different software, systems, or records for each of its many aspects.
Having to regularly transcribe data from one form to another is no longer a sustainable practice. Which is why comprehensive EHS management software has become so popular. The best platforms have figured out how to integrate the various safety functions seamlessly.
There are still problems, though. Software that does ‘everything’ tends to become bloated, confusing, and hard to manage. Plus companies end up paying for lots of features that they’ll never use. A more recent approach is the module-based platform, in which a safety department deploys, and pays for, only the software modules it specifically needs.
Training Tracking: The Management of Online Learning
With traditional classroom-based safety training, an attendance may have been recorded in a three-ring binder. But as education has more often become a solitary endeavor in front of a computer screen, keeping track of EHS compliance courses and completion for hundreds of employees has required smarter digital solutions.
The Training Tracking components of the most advanced EHS compliance platforms do more than record course completion. They store details about the total educational requirements for each role, including certification renewal courses. They automatically notify the employee in advance to attend or schedule their course. And they alert safety directors and supervisors about missed courses, as well as overall worker compliance.
Just as important, training records can be quickly provided to OSHA during audits or investigations. These prove that the company was in compliance, by having provided required training, and also by ensuring that a worker had completed it.
Safety Data Sheets: New Ways of Keeping Track
Safety Data Sheets are updated and superseded all the time, and EHS compliance requires an employer to stay current. When paper SDS documents are kept in a binder, a newly-issued sheet can replace an old sheet. Unfortunately these days, remaining up-to-date is not quite that simple.
If for example, what if a company’s SDS for a certain chemical is 20 years old? Today’s digital SDS management systems allow safety directors to notice this in their comprehensive records of version updates. They can then investigate whether the formulation has in fact changed or an update has been missed. In a continually-changing regulatory environment, a lack of data for performing regular reviews clearly puts workforces at risk.
SDS records are also important because regulators may want to see evidence that a given employee had been provided with not just the relevant SDS, but the latest version of that document. Digital platforms can also store obsolete SDS version, offering a trail of data to settle any questions that may arise.