The Basic Duties of a Safety Manager Aren’t All That Basic
Many safety managers log years of field experience related to their respective industry before making the move into safety management. That tends to be necessary because the basic duties of a safety manager really aren’t all that basic. They depend on a complex and nuanced skillset that ranges from persuasion and negotiation, to document creation and management, to structural and industrial expertise. The balance worker advocacy, legal compliance, and company efficiency initiatives. Just imagine the responsibility of drafting safety policies that are informed by the results of workplace inspections, that account for regulatory compliance, without binding the hands of workers to the point that they can’t reasonably do their jobs, and then having to design instructional materials to train and coach workers in those same policies, conduct accident investigations, and regular compliance inspections. All those conflicting liabilities make a safety manager’s day-to-day quite the juggling act. For that reason, any tools that might enhance safety manager’s efficiency can be a real boon. Let’s talk about a few of those. Below is a list of tech tools that any safety manager should be able to make use of.
Tablet with an active stylus
The kinds of industries that require safety managers and safety staffing tend not to be associated with technology. It may be something of a false impression related to environmental conditions that aren’t really conducive to office equipment. A weld inspector on a construction site carries a handheld ultrasound device that is no bigger than a tablet computer, for example. That’s pretty high tech. Nevertheless, high tech computers and gadgetry are most commonly associated with office environments where safety concerns don’t really come up, that is unless it’s a safety manager’s office where he or she drafts documents about safety concerns. Out in the field, the shop, the mineshaft, or the jobsite, there are very few places to sit down, lean back and type out reports, but computing may still be a necessity. In those kinds of environments, a tablet computer with an active stylus would be more efficient.
In the old days a safety manager would carry a clipboard with a hard copy of some kind of form or checklist that they would use to conduct safety audits or inspections. Once finished they would return to their office to manually transfer the gathered data into their electronic document archives. With an active stylus tablet computer they can upload electronic versions of those forms onto the device, and then fill out the form using the same gestures and methods as the old-school clipboard, whatever is most natural, except that once completed they can save the document into their electronic archives right from the tablet. It eliminates a step.
**Only Android and Windows tablets like the Samsung Galaxy Note Pro, and Microsoft’s Surface Pro 3 have active stylus capabilities. iPad’s do not.
Task Management System
Where an active stylus tablet begins to streamline workflow for safety managers, task management systems take things to the next level. Say for example, a safety manager needs to revamp safety protocols in response to regulatory changes. Before beginning the long process he or she can outline all the steps, from inspection, documentation, drafting of new policy, creation of new safety training materials, coaching and training, archiving, and follow-up inspections down the road. All of these processes, and their corresponding documentation can be outlined, organized, and tracked from start to finish in one centralized application.
There are many of these applications on the market, but Podio is one of the more comprehensive ones. Setup can be a little complicated, and it’s always going to depend on the needs and preferences of the user taking into account particular company workflow protocols. That’s the beauty of Podio, it’s highly customizable and user friendly. It can be configured as simply, or robustly as the user wants.
Once projects are finished, an easy and efficient way to archive the documents is with online storage services. The three most popular are:
Google Drive: Basic google users are granted 15 GB of free storage on Google Drive. Additional storage subscriptions can be purchased for $1.99 for 100 GB, $9.99 for 1 TB. From there upgrades increase in increments of 10 TB up to 30 TB at $99.99 for 10 TB, $199.99 for 20 TB, and $299.99 for 30 TB.
OneDrive: Microsoft’s Onedrive service begins at 15 GB of space for basic users, but users can upgrade incrementally at very reasonable subscription rates. 100 GB costs $1.99/month. 2 GB costs $3.99/month. And 1 TB costs $6.99/month and includes Microsoft Office 365, which is cross-platform compatible for PC, Mac, Windows tablet, iOS, and Android.
Specialty Lenses For Smartphone Camera
Despite the best efforts of the most conscientious safety managers, accidents are still going to happen. When they do, company management, government regulators and insurance adjusters always like as much documentation as possible both to establish liability, and determine how best to accomplish restoration. For this reason, a quality digital camera is very useful addition to a safety manager’s kit. But to keep things simple, instead of carrying an expensive and fragile DSLR around on inspections, use aftermarket lense attachments for smartphones. Olloclip makes a 4-in-1 lens attachment available for iPhones and Samsung Galaxy phones that include wide angle, and fisheye lenses as well as 10x and 15x macro for very close up shots. Using a smartphone’s camera also allows for instantaneous and automatic backup of the pictures to one of the online storage solutions mentioned above. The wide angle and fisheye will capture an entire scene in one frame to give context to the overall reconstruction of an accident story. Meanwhile the macro lenses might be used to yield detailed shots of components involved in the accident to help understand the source of failure. Just as an example, macro lenses might record the presence of porosity or hydrogen crystals in fractured welds, which establishes faulty installation, and inspection processes. Or they may record the presence of rust in the fractures, which further establishes the passing of time since the initial fracture event and may indicate certain degrees of negligence. Whatever the case, photographic documentation always helps safety managers get to the bottom of the cause.
Investing in these few tools will greatly improve the efficiency, workflow, and stress levels of any safety manager. Let us know in the comments below if you have any other tech recommendations for safety managers.