But if we’re being perfectly honest with ourselves, we know that everyone takes shortcuts in their job from time to time — even safety managers. However, as technology evolves and advances, many safety managers are starting to realize the shortcuts they take on the job — no matter how small and potentially innocent — are unnecessary. They don’t have to take those risks to save time; there is now technology available to automate a whole range of tasks.
Technology advances more quickly than you might realize, and it’s important for safety managers to stay up to date. You may be taking shortcuts right now and not even realize it. Here are the four dangerous shortcuts that safety managers can’t afford to make:
1 Using pen and paper documentation
New advances in safety and compliance technology have made it much easier for safety managers to stay on top of all their people and equipment. For example, the entire lockout-tagout (LOTO) process can be set up and tracked electronically, ensuring that no shortcuts are taken and everything is documented for when regulators come calling. If you’re still using the pen-and-paper method of tracking your compliance, you are wasting time and money as all of that can be automated now.
2 Skimping on training
There is little more frightening to a safety manager than employees working on dangerous machinery for which they haven’t been properly trained. Those untrained employees could hurt themselves or others, and also cost the company money in the process in terms of medical bills or lawsuits.
New safety and compliance technology helps close that training gap. Safety technology that operates on mobile devices ensures that directions, diagrams and all relevant procedures will be available and accessible at any given piece of equipment. Software on those devices also ensures that all safety protocols are followed. A safety manager can even check on procedures: If a worker takes two minutes to complete a step that should take 20, a safety manager will have the visibility to know and address that issue.
3 Completely skipping steps in the LOTO process
A very dangerous shortcut safety managers tend to make is to always assume that their employees are following all the proper LOTO steps simply because they've been working on a piece of machinery for a long time.
For example, a worker might not walk 100 feet to get a device to properly lock out a piece of equipment, thinking that it will only take a second to service it and no one else is around. The way to combat this is through better technology. The newest innovations in this area record and time-stamp all the steps in the LOTO process to ensure nothing is missed or skipped along the way.
4 Failing to consider your remote workers
“Out of sight, out of mind” can have major consequences when dealing with remote workers who are servicing dangerous machinery far from the home office and the safety manager. Even though remote workers might not be under the direct, physical supervision of the safety manager, it’s critical that they follow the same safety procedures as everyone else.
New technology in the area of safety and compliance ensures that even remote workers follow pre-programmed LOTO processes and procedures. No need to drag a procedure booklet out to the field location, because safety software stores all the necessary up-to-date procedure information and directions. In addition, safety managers can track exactly what is happening with workers working on distant machinery – as soon as the device is connected to the internet, safety managers have real-time visibility into each step in the LOTO process.
The key to making sure safety managers don’t take shortcuts is to properly equip them with the proper tools up front. The new high-tech innovations make this task much easier, as laborious processes are automated and it’s ensured that all steps to safety are followed.
Plus, there’s no overstating the importance of proper and ongoing training for employees. Once they can accurately implement and follow safety procedures, there can be repercussions put in place for those who continue to take shortcuts.
The goal in all of this, of course, is to keep workers safe and operations up and running. The costs of failing to do either are high — whether you’re measuring the impact in dollars or something even more important, your employees.