It’s no secret that the world of health and safety has a wide range of challenges. Workplace safety is not a straightforward or easy responsibility to uphold and this can get overwhelming for the professionals who work in the field.
In this article, we’ll cover 10 of the most commonly cited challenges that health and safety professionals and managers encounter in their efforts to create a safe working environment for everyone. This article will also conclude with solutions and resources to overcome these challenges.
The success of workplace safety relies a lot on employee cooperation and open communication. However, although their own safety is at stake, not all employees will cooperate when managers try to implement new workplace safety policies.
The employee resistance that can come up range from not complying with new safety training or equipment to not disclosing their health conditions. It’s perfectly normal for staff to show this kind of resistance to change. After all, disruptions to the status quo can challenge their comfort zone, routine, productivity, or even the feeling of job security.
Yet, while resistance is understandable, it doesn't make it any less challenging for managers to create engaging and employee-led safety initiatives.
Identifying the safety equipment required can be easy in the aftermath of an accident, but any injury or damage is already done by that time. The challenge is to identify the safety equipment required before any major accidents happen.
Tools and processes that can help health and safety managers determine the safety equipment needed include conducting a lone worker risk assessment and having a hazard reporting program in place.
Sometimes, an incident or near miss that happened highlights a more significant, underlying skills gap issue. It is critical to identify the right skills gap because conducting training for the wrong skill gap will not solve the issue at hand.
Identifying a skills gap is not simple, and it requires a lot of work. Health and safety managers usually employ three main methods for identifying a skills gap: 1) Skills Gap Analysis, 2) Skills Gap Analysis Scorecard, and 3) Skills Gap Benchmarking.
The challenge with these methods is that there are so many variables at play from the type of company you run, to the size of your staff. It is also challenging to identify the metric managers should pay attention to when gauging a skills gap.
Most organisations still don’t take advantage of the data collected in incident reports—and usually because it is an arduous task if the organisation still relies on handwritten, pen-and-paper reports.
Reading through a huge pile of incident reports to find a trend without any clues can often feel like trying to find a needle in a haystack. Often, it will be missed. .
Not spotting the trends or catching the trends late can be a significant problem because it leaves the organisation blind to some of the health and safety problems emerging in their business.
Often, managers don’t know about or don’t have access to employee-led tools and processes that create a proactive team culture to prevent accidents, report and respond to accidents, and monitor lone worker safety.
Many managers may have inherited tools and processes heavily dependent on paperwork, which are more reactive than proactive. These systems are time-consuming, inefficient, or ineffective in today’s fast-paced, globalised, digital world.
The result of operating on these outdated systems is managers find themselves in a constant micromanaging mode to chase up on inspections, incident reports, corrective action, and more—a situation that is equally time-consuming for the manager as it is suffocating for the employee.
Even if managers have identified the safety equipment, training, tools and processes required, they can be limited by budget constraints.
This leaves managers with the difficult task of evaluating which of the most common and dangerous risks have the highest risks to affect the team members they are responsible for to prioritise investments into these top risks.
The first challenge is deciding how to prioritise health and safety investments for different team members. This process can involve heated exchanges and compromises with team members. Once the priorities are decided, the battle is not won yet.
Managers now potentially face another firing squad when they need to convince board members that these investments will lead to a future ROI.
The entire, stressful process can notoriously take multiple meetings, reports, and presentations over a number of months before any action is approved. The approval delay further compounds the challenge of managing workplace safety without the resources they need.
In addition to managing all of the above, health and safety managers have the additional duty of fulfilling legal obligations such as reporting incidents to RIDDOR. Other legal obligations can vary according to situations or industries.
For example, during the COVID-19 pandemic outbreak, health and safety obligations include reporting positive cases to HSE.
What about industry-specific legal obligations? One example is how managers of the agriculture industry need to stay updated with HSE’s new pesticide regulations that came into effect on 1 January 2021 following Brexit.
Not only is it a challenge for health and safety professionals to keep up with changing regulations such as these, but implementing them is another huge mountain to climb.
The health and safety sector is in a constant state of change. New legislation, regulations, and standards are created all the time. Best practices and technologies are also ever-evolving. Health and safety professionals can’t afford to fall behind.
To effectively set up, manage, and improve workplace safety, managers need to stay updated with the latest and industry best practices of safety training, legal obligations, tools, and processes.
This can require investing a lot of time into their training, research, and participation in relevant industry conferences.
Emergency response is a fast-moving situation with many shifting factors. Effective responses can hinge on a well-planned health and safety emergency procedure.
Developing this emergency procedure is a time-consuming task and challenging for the many factors that need to be considered, from identifying possible emergencies through to organising the inventory needed for an emergency response plan and the necessary training.
After developing emergency procedures, managers are challenged to make a myriad of other decisions. How should staff be trained, and how often? How are alarms raised? How often do you test an emergency procedure or safety drill?
Needless to say, with so many responsibilities to uphold and emergencies to respond to, many health & safety managers struggle to find the time to get everything done. Solutions that can streamline routine tasks are the most ideal because of their time-saving impact.
A report by McKinsey Global Institute revealed that in about 60% of occupations, at least one-third of the activities that make up a specific job could be automated.
The study also found that over 40% of workers surveyed reported that they spend at least a quarter of their work week on manual, repetitive tasks. The type of tasks that dominate most of this time are emails, data collection, and data entry.
While this study was performed across various industries and occupations, the trend is clear. Repetitive, manual tasks are extremely time-consuming. Health and safety professionals who deal with a lot of manual reporting, communication, and task management have experienced this all too well.
Thankfully, with the mass use of mobile and digital technologies, digitisation of key workflows in health and safety has been helping to streamline routine health and safety tasks, boosting productivity across the board for both manager and employees of an organisation.
Market solutions to streamline workers safety
Many lone worker safety devices, like Safe Pro, eliminate the need for manual safety check-ins at timed intervals via mobile phone. This saves time for both lone workers and their supervisors. Fewer interruptions also makes everyone’s work more productive.
Furthermore, when the devices connect to a cloud platform like Protector that captures a digital log of information, managers can save a lot of time when analysing data and investigating or creating an incident report.
Market solutions to streamline incident reporting
Cloud-platform incident reporting solutions eliminate the nuisance of handwritten incident reports. Incident reporting solutions streamline the entire process, from enabling employees to submit an incident report on the spot with their mobile phones to automatically notifying managers so they can manage corrective tasks as soon as possible.
Market solutions to streamline inspections
Similar to incident reporting, pen-and-paper inspections are also a time-consuming nuisance, whether you’re the employee creating the incident report or the manager searching for an incident report, following up on corrective actions, or analysing data trends.
By digitising your inspections with a market solution like Workflows, managers can create customised forms for various inspections which employees can access from their mobile phones to quickly perform inspections.
Market solutions to streamline task management
Digital inspections also streamlines completing corrective actions. The integrated task management function in Workflows allows threaded discussions, media attachments, and task assignments within each checklist point of an inspection form.
The digital log of conversations and context organised into relevant threads saves an incredible amount of time—not to mention headache and hassle— in managing phone calls, group chats and email threads to assign and follow up on corrective action tasks.
Numerous industries and niches are supercharging their productivity through technology. The world of health and safety doesn’t have to be left behind or stuck with pen-and-paper systems.
Overcome the most common challenges health and safety professionals face by streamlining routine tasks that allow you to reclaim your time and focus on more pressing matters. Contact Vatix here for a 15-day trial of Protector, our lone working and incident reporting solution, or Workflows, our inspections and task management solutions.