Our company wants to upgrade our safety program with computer software but we are skeptical about the return on investment of computerizing management safety functions. Are there realistic benefits to be gained from computerizing our safety program? Answered by Thomas L. Zera, CSP, president of ZeraWare.com, Williamsville, NY.
There are distinct advantages to adopting a computer-based safety process for any safety program. Applying the computer to safety functions expands the capabilities of a safety manager.
The benefits of computerizing begin with the ability to create a database of safety-related information. An important component of a safety database is accident information. Using the computer to identify the leading causes of past accidents can help identify the potential causes of future accidents. Tracking and sorting computerized accident data can identify patterns and problems. Gaining insight into the causes of accidents allows prevention efforts to be directed to where they will do the most good. Without a computerized database, this safety management process may be lacking or nonexistent.
Computerizing safety functions provides additional tools, means and methods for preventing accidents:
- Create customized inspection checklists that target specific concerns
- Ensure consistent and uniform inspections
- Track the completion of corrective actions
- E-mail inspections and corrective action reports
- Easily find and reference past inspections
Of course, safety inspections can be completed without computerizing them. But computerizing helps prevent common problems such as hazards being overlooked, corrective actions remaining incomplete, lost inspection reports and haphazard follow-up.
Computerizing safety and OSHA compliance training has benefits as well: better recordkeeping; the ability to track training by person, topic or dates; and the ability to obtain training programs on CD. Computerizing employee safety training makes training easier to organize, manage and monitor. The return on investment is fewer accidents, and avoiding OSHA citations and penalties for inadequate training.
Not to be overlooked is the ability of a computer-based safety program to standardize safety procedures and forms for a company with multiple locations. A computer-based safety program can be installed on a company's intranet system. The same forms and procedures are readily accessible on everyone's computer.
Management can obtain incident reports, investigations or safety inspections within minutes of completion. Information can be e-mailed to multiple recipients in seconds. Data from one or all locations can be searched and sorted.
Yet another benefit of computerizing a safety program is the time saved. It takes twice as long to write a page of text than to type it on a keyboard. Problems such as misplaced files, incomplete reports, poor follow-up, inconsistent procedures and a reluctance to revise are eliminated.