If you’re a health and safety professional, one would have thought, in a strange way, the pandemic could have made your job easier. After all, COVID-19 forced organisations to not only accelerate their safety, but also to digitise their operations. So you might think more decision-makers would rush to purchase health and safety management technology that simplifies and automates their company’s health and safety activities.
Unfortunately, too many companies still do things the manual way, either because they think it’s their only option or because they see such software as wasted money. If you’d like help to persuade your company otherwise, this article’s for you. It makes the evidence-supported business case to invest in health and safety software to help your organisation keep its workers safe through the pandemic.
- The Business Case for Health and Safety Software: Why Now’s More Critical Than Ever
COVID-19 may be on its way out, but its variations linger, with each month ushering in a successor. Even vaccinated individuals could get the virus, and in workplaces these risks spread. While certain jobs can telecommute their employees, there are other industries - such as healthcare, manufacturing, and construction - where staff have to commit to physical spaces. In such situations, Safe Work Australia prescribes certain safety precautions, such as using cloth masks, social distancing, cleaning and disinfecting. But few workers persevere with these onerous, forgettable and uncomfortable guidelines.
Unfortunately, symptoms spread faster and more fatally on worksites with their congested environments than in remote situations, leaving employers facing possible substantial expenses of lost-work-time and sick and family leave.
So how does health and safety technology resolve this situation?
In four ways:
- It can help monitor the health of employees, such as performing audits for social distancing, checking up on temperature tests for employees and tracking workers’ contacts in case of infection.
- It can track workers’ health-related behaviour, such as documenting safety incidents and receiving alerts when social distancing sensors (for example) need new batteries.
- It can help organisations implement and follow processes to reduce the risk of virus transmission, such as documenting safety committee meetings on COVID and running occasional COVID compliance-training programs.
Managers who don’t sign up for technology typically do so for the following three reasons:
- They’re unaware of its benefits. Here’s your opportunity to educate them.
- They think it's a cost-loss model. Show them how health and safety software profits their business.
- They’re intimidated by technology. Perhaps the best you can do is to point out the pitfalls that occur from manual health and safety handling. Organisations that manage workplace safety manually are more likely to make mistakes, tarry with their operations, demotivate and confuse their employees, lose their records, overlook critical regulations, and train new safety managers from scratch, among other issues. Such organisations, impeded by numerous bottlenecks, are disabled from progressing. Reports show that organisations that adopt cutting-edge health and safety technology are more likely to profit long-term. In fact, studies insist that some of the richest and most successful companies are those that invested in health and safety management software.
- The Business Case for Health and Safety Software: Building your Case
It's one thing to recognise the importance of health and safety software technology. It’s rather another to sell your boss on its importance. Here’s how we’d go about it.
Step 1: Document workplace safety issues
- This is where a survey based on the Bradley Curve Sit down with your team and/ or frontline workers to identify areas in your company’s culture, organisation, processes and activities that need improved safety.
- Conduct a hazard assessment of the entire facility - walk through the worksite and assess its equipment, work practices, and probable hazards. Also, check for safety requirements that can be implemented or strengthened. The UK Hudson Safety Maturity Model or Bradley Curve model could help you.
- Create a hazard map. Draw an outline of the worksite with existing and potential hazards. Involve workers and managers in this task.
Step 2: Get stakeholders onboard to ensure buy-in from leadership
Stakeholders include company executives, IT management and frontline workers.
- Executives - Start with your closest boss for buy-in with supervisors that safety is important and easiest to accomplish with industry-leading health and safety software.
- IT management - Involve IT in the decision-making process. Solicit their experience and let them help you find the solution that’s scaled for your organisation and built for its needs.
- Team - Sit down with your team, share your findings, explain the importance of the health and safety management solution, and discuss how it benefits them. The team can also review your proposal, and help you sell your pitch to relevant stakeholders that include executives, managers and frontline workers.
Step 3: Make the ROI case that any health and safety software solution is better than nothing
Show managers and workers how workplace accidents involve both direct and indirect costs.
Direct costs include:
- Medical expenses, such as hospital stays, medicine, therapy and ambulance rides.
- Workers’ compensation claims
- Paid sick and family leave
- Regulatory fines and penalties
- Legal costs
Safe Work Australia calculated that a workplace injury costs the employer $4,350 per incident.
These are four to ten times higher than direct costs and include:
- Employee absenteeism and turnover
- Lost productivity
- Loss of equipment/ materials
- Negative publicity and reputational damage
- Loss of customer/client trust
Other indirect costs include training replacement employees, investigating accidents and implementing corrective measures, repairing damaged equipment and property, and suffering from impacted employee morale and absenteeism. These costs could damage your brand and cause lost customers, opportunities and profits.
Any business administration that cares for the health and welfare of their employees, customers, contractors and vendors, would want to invest in an industry-level health and safety solution. That’s aside from the fact that such technology buffs their bottom line!
Step 4: Making the case for Health and Safety Software: What is health and safety, anyway? What does it give you?
Most people don’t know what health and safety software is, so describe how the technology standardises, simplifies, and automates your company’s health and safety activities.
Software-based health and safety systems do the following:
- They put all health and safety data, tasks and documents on a “single pane of glass”, so all stakeholders can access this information to reference regulatory information and policies, and complete tasks in just a few clicks.
- They help organisations log environment, health and safety incidents against a predefined set of criteria and use KPIs for tracking H&S requirements.
- They automate health and safety administrative tasks, help managers follow up on assigned tasks, trigger corrective or preventive actions, and generate reports.
- They help with risk analytics by helping organisations identify and assess factors that may jeopardise the health and safety of their employees.
Health and safety software also makes processes such as the following as easy and accurate as possible: workforce training, audits and inspections, documenting safety committee meetings, and assessing the status of personal protective equipment (PPE).
How health and safety buffs your bottom line
- Cost savings: According to Safe Work Australia injuries come at a cost of $4,350 to the employer on average, but this depends on factors like the length of time a worker is out. With today's mounting costs, this is a problem that grows with time. The solution? Invest in health and safety management solutions to curb these costs and recycle revenue back in your business.
- Fewer fines and penalties: Supervisors must adhere to regulations and standards imposed by government authorities (and state agencies) such as Safe Work Australia. The cost of a category 1 violation can reach up to $3 million for an organisation. Other violations could result in criminal charges or jail time. Health and safety software directs more of your money to your business than to the government.
Step 5: Answers for the Most Common Objections
Here’s how to answer the following:
- “What’s wrong with how we currently do things?”
Answer: Nothing… On the other hand, how about boosting your operational performance? Researchers found that companies with invest significantly in health and safety programming can outperform other companies in the marketplace.
“Firms,” another article in the International Journal of Workplace Health Management concluded, “those who invest in occupational safety often have better financial performance than those who do not.”
These two articles (among many others) indicate that investing in health and safety software yields big payoff.
“It’s too expensive!”
Several answers here:
- Health and safety software saves you money in the long run: True safety technology can run anywhere from several thousand to millions of dollars, but in the long run, its use drastically reduces injury costs. Point out to your employer that injury-related costs are one of the few expenses that can’t be depreciated, written off as business losses or deducted from accounts. If administrators lose revenue from injuries, illnesses, or damage, they’d need to earn double as much to recoup on their profits.
- Health and safety software increases employee productivity: Faerch, a leading supplier of sustainable, thermoformed food packaging, reported that they saved the equivalent of 39 days a month by eliminating manual processes.
- Health and safety software improves product/ service quality: In a 2019 survey of 556 companies, researchers found that 71% of respondents that used manual health and safety processes reported feeling overwhelmed by their responsibilities, which impacted their work.
- Health and safety software indirectly attracts high-quality workers and reduces turnover: Prospective candidates avoid companies with high levels of accidents and stress levels. Workers told Fellowes that most of them (87%) would stay longer in a company with a healthy lifestyle.
The evidence seems conclusive: If keeping workers alive and uninjured matters to your organisation, health and safety should matter too. That’s the key reason for investing in health and safety risk management software.
As to the expense, resources gathered indicate how some of the richest and most successful companies are those that invested in health and safety measures, with one such study concluding that “companies that build a culture of health by focusing on the well-being and safety of their workforce may yield greater value for their investors”.
Instead of relying on error-filled, sluggish manual processes, your organisation could now easily collect and access health information from anywhere at any time, helping them with coronavirus prevention as well as reduce accidents, injuries and compliance violations, among other issues.
And we at SHE software are there for you. Want to learn more about health and safety technology? Uncertain which H&S technology to buy? Download our eBook where we dive deeper into making the business case for H&S management software.
Ready to see our health and safety management solution for yourself?