Safety First

In 2019, a NSW organisation was fined $225,000 after it pleaded guilty to an offence under the Work Health and Safety Act 2011. In 2020, a Western Australian organisation was fined $330,000 for a series of workplace breaches. The cost of not managing safety properly can potentially be crippling for an organisation – not only financially, but also in terms of the human impact, and the reputation of the organisation.  

Safety Management is a crucial component for any organisation that prioritises the health and wellbeing of its employees, stakeholders, and the general public. It provides a systematic approach to managing safety and reducing the risk of incidents and accidents. In this blog, we will discuss two aspects of safety management. First, the importance of safety management to an organisation. Second, we will look at why every organisation should use a safety management system, rather than spreadsheets.  

So first up, let’s look at why safety management is important. Today I am going to suggest that there are five reasons that safety management is important. 

  1. Compliance with Legislation and Regulation: Safety management helps organisations comply with safety regulations and standards. Legislation and regulations are in place to ensure that organisations maintain a safe working environment for employees and stakeholders. By being proactive about safety management, organisations demonstrate their commitment to safety and minimise the risk of penalties and fines for non-compliance. 
  2. Risk Reduction: Taking a proactive approach to safety management reduces the risk of incidents and accidents. It also helps organisations identify potential hazards and implement controls to minimise the risk of harm. This proactive approach to safety reduces the likelihood of accidents and incidents, leading to a safer work environment. 
  3. Improved Safety Culture: Proactive safety management helps to create a safety culture within an organisation. This culture is characterised by a shared commitment to safety and a focus on continuous improvement. Better practice safety management provides a framework for employees to follow, promoting safe behaviour and reducing the risk of accidents and incidents. 
  4. Improved Performance: A proactive approach to safety management can improve the performance of an organisation by reducing downtime and increasing efficiency. By identifying and controlling hazards, organisations can minimise the risk of disruptions and ensure that operations run smoothly. This, in turn, leads to improved productivity and performance. 
  5. Enhanced Reputation: Safety management can enhance an organisation’s reputation. By demonstrating a commitment to safety, organisations can attract new customers and retain existing ones. This improved reputation can also help organisations secure new contracts and business opportunities. 

Without any question, safety management is a critical component for organisations that prioritise the health and wellbeing of their employees, stakeholders, and the general public. Safety management helps organisation’s safety compliance obligations, reduce the risk of incidents and accidents, improve the safety culture, enhance performance, and improve reputation.  

Let’s now consider why every organisation should use a safety management system, rather than taking a manual approach using spreadsheets or paper-based registers. There are a whole range of reasons, but let’s consider just a few key advantages of using a safety management system. 

  1. Efficiency and Effectiveness: The administrative effort required to effectively implement safety management is significant. Having a solution that automates most of the administration significantly reduces the time and effort required. It is also far more effective. Things don’t get missed. For example, a good safety management system will have automated workflows and notifications that help to ensure that safety tasks are completed on time and in the correct sequence. Spreadsheets do not have these capabilities and can lead to missed deadlines and gaps in safety management. 
  2. Improved Compliance: Safety management systems are designed to help organisations comply with various safety regulations and standards. The systems provide tools for documenting and tracking compliance, reducing the risk of penalties and fines for non-compliance. Spreadsheets, however, do not have built-in compliance tracking tools, making it difficult for organisations to ensure that they are meeting regulatory requirements. 
  3. Scalability: As organisations grow and change, their safety management needs may change as well. Safety management systems are designed to be scalable, allowing organisations to add or remove features as needed. Spreadsheets, on the other hand, may not be easily scalable and can become cumbersome to manage as an organisation grows. 
  4. Improved Accessibility and Collaboration: A safety management system provides centralised and secure access to safety information, making it easy for all stakeholders to access and collaborate on safety data. This is particularly important for organisations with multiple locations, as it enables real-time access to safety information from anywhere. Spreadsheets, on the other hand, can only be accessed by one person at a time, making it difficult for multiple people to collaborate on the same data. 
  5. Better Data Management: Safety management systems are designed specifically for managing safety information and are equipped with tools to capture, store, and analyse safety data. This data can be used to identify trends, track progress, and make informed decisions about safety improvements. Spreadsheets, on the other hand, can become cluttered and difficult to manage, leading to unreliable data and missed opportunities for improvement. 
  6. Reporting and Analytics: Safety management systems provide robust reporting and analytics capabilities that allow organizations to monitor and evaluate their safety performance. Spreadsheets do not have the same level of reporting and analytics capabilities, making it difficult to gain insights into safety performance. 

In conclusion, safety management is important. A safe working environment is important to everyone. Doing safety management well not only minimises the risk of harm in the workplace, but it also supports an organisation in complying with relevant legislation, regulation, and standards. Reputation is enhanced and performance is improved. Utilising a safety management system is the most efficient and effective way to support better practice safety management. 

This article was written by Zane Edwards, Global Director of GRC at Torque Software. Zane is a chartered accountant and has 20 years experience in Government and Private sector GRC management. Not only is he passionate about the digital transformation of governance, but he is also a skilled and influential communicator with extensive national and international experience in a variety of channels, including conferences, radio, television, and video. 

ZANE EDWARDS
Global Director – GRC
Specialist Focus – Risk, Policy, Finance