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Avoid the health and safety blackhole and get visible by ditching your spreadsheets

How challenging is it to ensure the visibility of health and safety performance and compliance across your organisation? What role do spreadsheets play in your health and safety programs? If it seems like a great deal of important health and safety data and information is not easily accessible, it is possible that spreadsheets are the culprits. Let’s explore why and what you can do about it.  

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The spreadsheet safety net 

Spreadsheets can make a health and safety organisation feel “safe.” After all, a spreadsheet is something an organisation has created themselves and that seems to be a fair trade off for what appear to be only a few limitationsTechnology has an amazing ability to not only capture information, but also provide insight into what is actually happening within a company. Yet, in so many organisations the only purpose of using spreadsheets to manage HSE is for recordkeeping.  

Your organisation may keep very detailed spreadsheets, but problems can crop up, especially as time passesA new HSE manager might come in who wants to follow past processes but doesn’t know the intricate details of how the complex spreadsheet was set up. Maybe there is no straightforward way to update the spreadsheet with new metrics without causing #REF errors everywhere. Plus, as the number of reports you must run increases over time and keeping up with what is happening across your growing operations requires more recordkeeping, your spreadsheets become cumbersome, time consuming and difficult to use. There is also the problem of “accessibility.” Does everyone have access to spreadsheets or other documents that are housed in a central location? 

Spreadsheets can be an excellent resource for recordkeeping, but eventually these safety nets can break. The result is a black hole of missed opportunities for proactive health and safety improvement and risk reduction 

A false sense of security  

If you want to move forward and use your information to determine leading indicators or the incorporation of more insights, such as job descriptions, hazards associated with specific jobs, similar incidents, and bad and good observationsit helps to understand why you can’t rely on just spreadsheetsThey can give you a false sense of security as you barrel towards an avoidable black hole. 

For one, when you track and measure HSE and risk performance, it’s extremely important to ensure that it adds value in some way. Spreadsheets only really enable you to focus on the past. You end up focusing on data that is the result of an incident or information that is outdated by the time it’s recorded. This creates lagging indicators, which only tell a very small part of the story, but does not always help you determine causality or identify patterns that you must address. 

Then there’s understanding and assessing compliance, which can be challenging if you limit yourself to spreadsheetsAfter all, you must meet regulatory requirements while also complying with your company’s own requirements. Those can exceed the regulatory ones. Requirements can consist of training and policy review and full-on reporting. The more detailed you try to make your spreadsheets, the more difficult it can be to understand and further share that information for tracking. What if you were wanting to generate a report on a specific training requirement for a range of workers? Or furthermore, workers in various areas of the organisation? 

A visible shift to a better picture of your health and safety 

Interestingly, if you look across your organisation, you might notice that most business units or departments are using modern systems and technology. Yet, it is likely that your health and safety team are trying to do their best with spreadsheets and paper forms. What does it say to the people and teams about the importance of health and safety when, in 2020, health and safety professionals are filling out pieces of paper while everyone else uses the latest software? 

By investing in HSE software, you can see the same ROI as when the Finance Office uses specialised reporting software. With HSE software, you take all your health and safety data and easily visualise it so that it supports your decision making, enabling you to enact proactive measures based on leading indicators, and takes a lot of the worry out of compliance.  

Using HSE software instead of spreadsheets contributes to the goal of ensuring organisations are constantly learning and striving to increase efficiency across the board. HSE software makes it easier to safeguard your employees and determine various ways in which we can mitigate risks to acceptable levels. The time and effort spent creating, documenting, and searching for various insights in spreadsheets is eliminated, and health and safety professionals can spend their time sharing data and insights with frontline workers and executives alike, cultivating a culture where everyone engages in safety. HSE software facilitates fluid discussion and partnership throughout the organisation.  

If you’re ready to shift your focus and own your spotlight, watch our Virtual Health and Safety Forum on-demand to hear experts share how technology will help

For more information 

Information is the lifeblood of good health and safety, allowing everyone to really understand what is going on and for informed, proactive decisions to be made. When it is highly visible and available to everyone, people can truly engage with safety activities and increase efficiency across the board. SHE software can help. 

Let's chat about visibility.