Checking on your lone workers? What about their kit?

Looking after lone workers is a big responsibility. If you have an employee, such as a security guard or night watchman, who is on their own for long stretches of time then you need to make sure they can get help if they are in trouble.

This need has spawned a small technology industry addressing the fact that many lone workers, of which there are about 4 million in the UK alone, may not be able to able to use their mobile phones to call for help in the event of a problem.

In the UK, for example, SoloProtect supplies a device called the Identicom that provides personal safety features along with identity badge functionality for organisations such as the National Health Service.

If a health worker is in a potentially confrontational situation with no other staff around, by discretely pressing their identity card they can activate a hotline to an alarm receiving centre where an agent will record what is going on and send help if needed.

German firm LIV tec goes a step further with a gadget that will broadcast a user’s location if the bearer stops moving for a suspiciously long amount of time.

Such technologies can bring help to someone in trouble at a remote location, but they cannot prevent people from getting into trouble in the first place.

For that, you need to make sure that the equipment a worker is relying on does not cause an accident… and can be fully relied upon if it is needed.

An intruder alarm that fails to work, a fire door that will not open or a flare that will not ignite are all examples of equipment problems that can be challenging in any situation, but are potentially much worse when you have nobody around for backup.

And if you are equipping your lone workers with some form of alarm-giving device, you need to make sure the technology itself works whenever it is needed.

Thus the only way to really keep your lone workers as safe as possible is to make sure the items they may have to rely on are checked regularly, and any defects are logged in a way that is easy to see and assists with quick remediation.

Doing this is easy with a system such as Papertrail, which can help you schedule inspections at regular intervals and check that each inspection has been carried out. Don’t let your people leave without having it in place.

Theme park safety: increasing the fairground attraction

The tragic death of 11-year-old Evha Jannath on Drayton Manor’s Splash Canyon ride in May was naturally a terrible blow to all who knew her. It was also a shock to the UK’s theme park sector, which has worked hard to maintain an almost impeccable safety record.

The numbers speak for themselves. According to the BBC, Jannath’s was the first theme park fatality in the UK since 2004. Based on a 2009 admissions figure of 13.8 million visitors a year, that equals less than a one in 179 million chance of dying during a theme park visit.

To put that figure in context, the chances of winning the jackpot in the UK National Lottery are around one in 14 million. In other words, you are more than 100 times more likely to win the National Lottery jackpot than you are to lose your life in a theme park.

Is that good enough? Of course not. Visitor attractions must strive for an accident rate of zero, forever, and not just because it’s the right thing to do. Accidents are also terribly bad for business.

The Splash Canyon tragedy, for example, led Drayton Manor to close altogether for a day, as well as shutting the water ride for the duration of the investigation that followed. At least one other operator, Alton Towers, closed a similar ride as a precaution.

On top of the loss of revenue that this may have represented, operators face heavy investigation costs and the potential for hefty fines if any wrongdoing is uncovered. And then there’s the massive reputational damage that accompanies an accident.

Despite this, and for all the safety precautions that theme park operators already take, it is unrealistic to expect that accidents will never ever happen. When they do, the best an operator can hope for is to show they had done everything in their hand to avoid it.

This means showing evidence of regular equipment inspections, demonstrating staff had the right training and certifications, and generally being able to prove that every health and safety requirement was being adhered to.

Dealing with all this paperwork is a hefty task, but there are now tools that will allow any theme park operator to do the job quickly and easily. It’s a small investment in exchange for helping to make sure no further theme park deaths are reported for a long, long time.

Why your lawyer might want you to get Papertrail

There are plenty of people in your organisation who might appreciate you introducing an inspection, certification and audit management platform such as Papertrail.

Your health and safety manager, for instance, would be happy to have a system that makes it easier to log fire certificate and equipment inspection records. Your quality control chief will be pleased to get a simpler way of tracking audit data.

But what you might not realise is that your legal department could thank you, too. How come? After all, lawyers don’t normally spend their time dealing with inspections or managing certifications.

What they are concerned about, though, is evidence that could be permissible in court. And that’s where a system such as Papertrail has important advantages over traditional, manual audit tracking methods, often based on Excel spreadsheets or the like. Here’s why.

Let’s say you suffer a workplace accident. There’s an issue of responsibility. Was your equipment up to scratch? Had you been following the rulebook in terms of inspections and legal compliance?

If the case goes to court then it’s vital you have valid data to prove you’ve been meeting your obligations. Maybe you’ve got an Excel spreadsheet to show when your most recent inspections were carried out.

It looks impressive, but it might not carry much weight in court. The reason is that entries in Excel (or most other digital office files, for that matter) are not time-stamped, so it’s harder to prove you did not go back and fill them in after the event.

That’s hardly surprising: Excel and its brethren were not created with safety records compliance in mind.

That’s why you need a bespoke package such as Papertrail or iAuditor, where every entry is automatically time-stamped and cannot be tampered with, offering clear and legally solid proof that the data is genuine.

You could, of course, argue that this issue is a minor detail and probably not one worth worrying about. But think again. If you do get embroiled in a courtroom scenario like the one outlined above, it could quite possibly have an impact on your operations.

Depending on the nature of your business, you may be suspended from doing further work until your organisation has been cleared of responsibility.

If that’s the case, then it won’t just be your lawyer who will be glad you can pull up a full inspection, certification and audit history on Papertrail. Your financial director will thank you, too.

Britain’s going green. Let’s make sure it does so safely.

We live in exciting times for the energy industry. A shift to clean power is taking hold around the world. And one of the best examples in recent months has been the UK.

The country that spawned the industrial revolution, and with it a growing global appetite for coal, has moved into renewables in a big way. In April, the UK went without coal for an entire day, for the first time since around 1882.

This was after coal’s contribution to the UK energy system dropped to just 9% in 2016, compared to 23% in 2015. By 2025, coal is expected to have been phased out of the system altogether.

And this month the National Grid reported that renewable energy (meaning wind, solar, hydro and biomass) had for the first time in the modern era provided more than half of UK electricity supplies.

“For the first time ever this lunchtime wind, nuclear and solar were all generating more than both gas and coal combined,” National Grid said.

For anyone who is concerned about man-made climate change, this is great news. And the inexorable rise of renewables is good for jobs, too.

Not only do clean-energy industries create high-value employment, but the work is safe: wind engineers are more than 660 times less likely to suffer a fatal accident than people working in the coal industry, for example.

Most of this difference comes from the hazardous nature of coal mining, though. Let’s not kid ourselves: working on a turbine nacelle at 80 metres above ground is hardly a cakewalk. One slip could be fatal.

And the risks are even higher in the offshore wind farms that industry attention is shifting to. To maintain its well-earned reputation for safety, the renewables sector must work harder than ever to make sure things don’t go wrong.

That means checking, double-checking and triple-checking equipment. Making sure everyone is trained up to the highest standard. Confirming all components have the right certifications and quality stamps. And keeping records of the whole lot.

As the need to focus on workplace safety gets ever more key, storing records on Excel spreadsheets or bits of paper is no longer really an option.

If an engineer needs to confirm that a harness has passed its latest safety check, and they are in a ship in the North Sea, having a record back in the office just won’t cut it. Thankfully, there are smarter ways to do things now. The industry just needs to adopt them, fast.

Coming soon – new functionality to Papertrail

unnamed-1

The Papertrail platform will have Task Manager – the facility to create tasks to evidence corrective and preventative actions

 Llanfairfechan – 25 May 2017 – The forthcoming Task Manager functionality will enable users to create tasks to evidence corrective and preventative actions, thus providing enhance support to quality management systems already in place.

Tasks can be created on any record to aid other team members see what actions needs to be undertaken and when complete.  Users will be notified and be able to see what tasks along with any inspections are scheduled.  All completed tasks and notes are evidenced with the entire record history.

“The Papertrail team see many ‘to-do’ list apps in use whilst undertaking inspections and since the news that Wunderlist is no longer going to be supported by Microsoft we decided to incorporate the option to create, assign and set deadlines on tasks on individual records.” Commented Ben Scholes, CEO and Co-Founder.

Task Manager is scheduled to be available in Beta week commencing 1 June 2017, and the Papertrail development team would be grateful if your organisation would trial the Beta version, FREE of charge for a short period of time.  In return we would be grateful for all feedback and comments.

 

About Papertrail

The Papertrail platform was created out of the need to find an easier way to keep accurate records and demonstrate compliance for equipment inspections and audits.

Today, industry-leading partners, SMEs to larger enterprise and public sector organisations and their staff and contractors trust Papertrail to drive business efficiencies and optimise compliance by managing equipment inspections, certification and safety records.

 

Press contact information

Fiona Holland

fiona@papertrail.io

07774 274737

How to be your health and safety inspector’s best friend

tree-surgery

We’ve all seen the image of the person sawing off the branch they are sitting on.

And if you do an Internet search for ‘health and safety nightmares’ then you’ll find plenty of examples of madcap activities that seem to defy common sense… and certainly wouldn’t go down well with a health and safety (H&S) inspector.

There’s the construction plant operators playing football with diggers, for example. Or the worker using a colleague’s back as a bench for a circular saw. It’s easy to dismiss such far-out incidents as having little bearing on your own, safety-conscious operations.

On the flip side, it’s also easy to see H&S inspections as a chore, to be avoided at all costs. And there’s no doubt that passing an inspection can be a harrowing process, particularly since inspectors in most jurisdictions could potentially shut down your business.

The problem with this mentality is that a disdain for inspections may lead to a disdain for health and safety itself. And that could have serious consequences for your organisation.

Far better, then, to take the opposite view… and think about how you could become an inspector’s best friend by making their visit quick and painless.

The first and most obvious step in this process is obviously to make safety a priority and check for any potential hazards that need to be addressed.

Having a workplace that is visibly free of hazards probably goes about 95% of the way towards dispelling any concerns your inspector might have. But you may still need to deal with the lingering doubt that you’ve simply tidied everything up the day before the visit.

For this, you need to have documentation that proves your long-term commitment to safety.

As a retired warehouse inspector remembers: “I would always ask to see evidence of the most recent racking inspection, just to see when they last had their system independently checked in addition to the internal safety checks I would expect them to carry out.”

Having this information to hand is important, but it’s also worth bearing in mind that the way you present it can matter, too. A mass of crumpled inspection reports, dug out from a musty drawer, is hardly going to instill confidence in your safety regime.

On the other hand, being able to access reports online, in a way that is easy to scan and analyse, will go a long way towards showing safety isn’t something you just polish up for an inspector’s visit.

Wind energy: why bigger offshore turbines will need firms to be smart when it comes to inspections

 

innogy-photo

Imagine hanging off a rope to inspect a structure that’s as high as the Eiffel Tower. Now imagine the structure is packed with moving parts, some too large to fit in a soccer field, and is in the middle of the North Sea, where working conditions are rarely ideal.

That’s the environment facing engineers with the upcoming generation of offshore wind turbines.

As reported in Bloomberg, offshore wind turbines, already among the largest machines on the planet, are due to almost double in power by the middle of the next decade.

The quest for size is driven by cost: since wind power is proportional to the square of blade length, each increment in turbine span can harvest significantly more energy per machine.

That’s great news for developers, since having fewer, larger machines means you needn’t spend so much on things like subsea cabling. The cost reductions this can yield have even allowed German developers to starting planning wind farms that will not need subsidies.

But it means wind farm operators and construction companies will need to think hard about how they optimise inspections, on three accounts. The first is the sheer size and complexity of the turbines we will soon be seeing at sea.

The coming generation of turbines won’t only be the largest ever, but also the most technologically advanced. Most of their technology, from sensors to supervisory control and data acquisition systems, will be designed to make sure nothing goes wrong.

However, there will always be things that only a human can spot or fix. And keeping track of the status of thousands of components is challenging even for a human, so having a simple means of logging and accessing reports will be essential.

The second consideration is that larger turbines are much costlier to stop and fix. At full pelt, one of the planned 15-megawatt offshore machines could provide enough electricity to power almost 14,000 homes, or an entire town the size of Whitby.

Losing that amount of production, for any length of time, would be financially crippling. So, the onus is on inspection teams to make sure nothing is missed in those rare moments when a turbine can be permitted to stop for scheduled maintenance.

And third, there’s the safety angle. The wind industry has an enviable track record in keeping work-related accidents to a minimum, but exposing workers to bigger machines further offshore naturally increases the risk.

Hence, when it comes to inspections it’s not just the turbines that will need careful attention and meticulous tracking. It’s also the ropes, personal protective equipment and other materials the engineers will rely on. Having a good tracking system could save lives.

New mobile applications available for download NOW!

featuregraphic_720

This is a significant week for the team at Papertrail, launching the new and improved mobile applications, starting with iOS, the most popular mobile operating system used by the Papertrail community. The roll out of the improved android application will follow over the coming days.

You can download the apps from…
the iOS App Store
the Android Play Store

What’s new?

  • The Papertrail mobile applications provide users with the ability to update inspections offline, take photos and report faults. Current improved functionality includes:
    Improved sync performance – allowing access to real time data is important. No longer do you need to remember to press the sync button, providing there is internet access inspections are uploaded providing real time collaboration.
  • View images and PDF (uploads) – for many businesses it’s important that everyone has access to the right documentation and information where ever they are. Any record upload, such as PDF documents or inspection instructions are now all available to view from within the mobile application.
  • Scanning – not necessarily a new feature, but increasingly we are seeing more businesses use barcodes and RFID to close the loop on potential human error, and ensure teams are updating the correct record for the specific piece of equipment. A wide variety of barcodes including the Petzl data matrix can now be scanned.

What about the future….

We are constantly developing new and enhanced functionally for the mobile app, from push notifications to the ability to edit and add new records to the management system. The first feature to be launched will be an integration with Papertrail manufacturer partners for adding new records straight into the Papertrail account from either the DMM or Singing Rock mobile application.

Further partners are to be announced soon, to provide similar functionality.

Remember to sync your device before downloading the new mobile app, the Papertrail support team are always at hand should you require assistance.

Feature Summary

  • Data syncs automatically when the app is active and there is an internet connection.
  • View the full history (activities) on a record (with an internet connection).
  • Add multiple inspections at once, but with an inspection form per record being inspected.
  • Add/edit record name, inspection dates, frequency, comments and all fields (serial, manufacturer etc…)
  • View photos/PDF’s from the app (with an internet connection)

Renewables – an industry where time is money…

windfarmThose acquainted with wind power know that operating turbines is in fact dependent on split-second reactions and rapid responses to changing conditions. This requirement for operational flexibility has grown as the renewables energy industry has sought to bring down operations and maintenance (O&M) costs and thereby reduce the levelised cost of wind energy (LCOE).

The move from reactive to preventive or even predictive maintenance regimes, which have been shown to cut costs by 24% and 47% respectively, has forced wind farm operators to embrace new data-driven technologies and processes that improve efficiency.

Mastering the rapid exchange of detailed, accurate turbine operations data is critical for improving power output, reducing downtime and delivering meaningful management reports, all of which can have a very significant impact on wind farm profitability.
Read more in the Papertrail white paper…