How smart PPE management is helping training firms

It’s increasingly clear that smart personal protective equipment (PPE) management can help companies with workforces operating in challenging conditions. But what of the companies that train those workforces?

If you are a training company specialising in, say, working at height, then taking good care of your PPE is as important for you as it is for your clients. Perhaps more so, in fact, since you’re supposed to lead by example.

No small wonder, then, that training companies have been among those moving quickest to embrace smart PPE. Take XI Training , one of the leading working-at-height compliance specialists in the UK.

XI Training used to use Microsoft Excel and Ideagen Q-Pulse systems for document management and compliance reporting. But Barry McLeod, sales and marketing manager, says it was “proving to be extremely onerous due to the volume of kit.”

The company switched to Papertrail … and the results have been spectacular. For one client, with operations in Shetland, XI Training estimates the switch from manual to smart PPE systems may have cut down time and effort by 60%.

XI Training is also benefiting from easier audits and greater all-round efficiency. McLeod says Papertrail is “good for clients, good for XI Training and good for colleagues who enjoy using the platform.”

Nor is XI Training alone on this. Other training companies, from C2 Vertical Safety in Sweden to 5th Point in Australia, are using Papertrail to wave goodbye to lost administration time, errors and poor asset utilisation. What about you?

Meet the companies managing PPE in a smarter way

Safety should always be top of mind in the workplace. But the upcoming A+A international trade fair and congress is a good excuse to make sure your health and safety systems are all up to scratch and in line with the latest best practice.

The show is always a great way to learn about safety-enhancing products and to exchange tips with industry peers. And if you look after personal protective equipment (PPE), it’s not just new products you should be checking out.

Companies around the world are also benefiting from smarter PPE management systems, which can help cut costs while improving safety.

The Australian working-at-height training firm 5th Point, for example, uses Papertrail to overcome what it calls the “daunting prospect” of inspecting industrial rope access equipment.

5th Point relies on equipment provided by DMM, which offers Papertrail as its standard PPE management system for customers.

Using the system, “you’re looking at saving up to 90% of your administration time during an inspection,” says Robert Partridge, product manager, without having an impact on health and safety standards.

That is probably why it has been adopted by companies whose workers operate in some of the harshest conditions in the world.

Technicians at Offshore Painting Services, for instance, maintain wind turbines out in the North Sea and cannot afford to work with faulty PPE.

The company uses Papertrail to help safeguard the integrity of its equipment, and has yet to suffer a lost-time incident despite logging hundreds of thousands of on-site man-hours.

If that’s the kind of PPE safety record you would like for your company, then book a demo or join us at A+A in Düsseldorf, Germany, from October 17 to 20.

  • Visit Papertrail at A+A at the DMM (Hall 6/F40) and SingingRock (Hall 6/C48) stands.

The PPE industry gets serious about safety

If there is one motto you can’t argue with, it must be ‘safety first’. Even in the most foolhardy occupations, you would have to be really mad to ignore basic safety rules.

And when it comes to any industry with an element of risk, companies are fully aware of the need for caution. The problem is that until recently many of them may not have had all the tools to cater for that need.

Take companies that rely on personal protective equipment (PPE), for example. The reason PPE exists at all is to provide users with a measure of safety, yet for it to be effective it usually must be regularly inspected and declared fit for purpose.

Carrying out these inspections is one thing, but being able to quickly and easily find out if they have been done is another. It is a problem that has plagued companies that rely on PPE, for example for working at height. But it is a problem that is increasingly in the past.

Companies such as World Challenge, DMM Professional and Offshore Painting Services are modernising their inspection records processes so they can quickly locate any record or certification from anywhere, at any time.

And a recent white paper from Papertrail predicts a continuing shift towards smart PPE management systems that help organisations improve safety while at the same time cutting costs and administration overheads.

“Users of the Papertrail smart PPE management system have reported more than a 90% reduction in administration workload, along with reduced human error and increased equipment use,” says the paper.

“Furthermore, such smart systems are expected to grow in value over time, as they increasingly evolve to receive and manage status data from future generations of connected PPE devices linked to the rise of the Internet of Things.”

The extent to which PPE record keeping is being modernised, to further increase safety while boosting efficiency, is expected to be a matter of debate in Düsseldorf, Germany, at the A+A international trade fair and congress from October 17 to 20.

The world’s largest international trade forum for safety, security and health at work, A+A’s programme will cover everything from workplace design to occupational fire protection.

In all areas, attendees will be looking for evidence of advances that can help improve the safety of their people and their customers. Thanks to advances in records management, PPE shouldn’t let them down.

Visit Papertrail at A+A at the DMM (Hall 6/F40) and SingingRock (Hall 6/C48) stands

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.

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.

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.

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