Taking the safety battle online: why mobile technology can save lives
Last year, there were 26 fatal workplace injuries in the manufacturing industry, while 61,000 workers sustained a non-fatal injury. Around a third of these incidents resulted in absence from work for more than seven days, highlighting the damaging impact poor implementation of health and safety policy can have on businesses as well as their employees.
With employees frequently working with hazardous and heavy-duty equipment, increased risk levels are a given in manufacturing compared with many other sectors. However, this is exactly why it’s so important for health and safety practices to be taken extremely seriously, as it is possible to mitigate this additional risk and significantly reduce the likelihood of workers injuring themselves or others.
What’s causing the high levels of injuries?
Recent research from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has found that over the past five years, half of all worker fatalities within the manufacturing sector were down to either a worker falling from height, injuring themselves by using dangerous machinery, or being struck by a moving object.
Each of these hazardous situations should be covered in an employee’s health and safety handbook. But with so many fatalities resulting from these situations, it’s clear that existing health and safety practices are failing to provide adequate levels of awareness.
Traditionally, health and safety manuals have been heavy-duty paper booklets. Not only do these tend to take a long time to read, they are also not very user-friendly. In fact, it has been shown that almost half of employees (43%) operating in hazardous industries, such as manufacturing, fail to read the health and safety guidance they are provided with.
Additionally, almost two-thirds (65%) of workers have started a new role without being given an operations manual, while only a quarter have seen them updated every time new legislation has come into play and 13% have never seen them updated at all.
What can be done to improve current health and safety practices?
In today’s digital age, the use of paper safety manuals isn’t necessary. Most people now have access to, or own, a tablet or smartphone device, making them one of the most convenient and accessible platforms available. This presents a fantastic opportunity for businesses to introduce mobile technology into their health and safety practices. This will be particularly effective for large employers with workers spread across a network of locations.
In fact, employees are now calling for employers to use more digital technology; more than two-thirds (68%) believe that investing in digital solutions will make for greater health and safety compliance.
What benefits do digital documents have over paper copies?
Digital documents are significantly more cost-effective than paper versions. For example, when a new health and safety law is introduced, managers can add the new information into employees’ digital handbooks with just a few clicks. Employees can then be notified about this updated information in an instant.
Previously, new paper copies would have had to be printed out and then handed to each employee personally, wasting valuable time, resources and money.
Digital documents can also be stored in the cloud, allowing employees to access their health and safety materials from anywhere and at any time on their mobile device – there’s little excuse for having not received and read the information.
Digital documents also enable businesses to monitor whether workers have read their manuals, by assigning a unique digital signature to each employee that can track their progress. Appropriate action can then be taken to ensure they are read, which should reduce the amount of workers putting themselves in danger.
The enforcement of health and safety, especially within hazardous industries such as manufacturing, should be of the utmost importance. However, it’s clear that current safety procedures aren’t effective enough. Employers should therefore be looking for alternative ways to guide staff on correct working practices, such as digital operations manuals, to reduce the number of accidents.