What if each item of equipment had a passport?

One of the great things about our data-driven age is the amount of information we can get on everything. From the calories in your breakfast cereal to the second-hand value of your car, information is just a few keystrokes away. And this is just the beginning.

Take personal protective equipment (PPE). Until recently, the most you might know about this was a) whether it was yours and b) where it was.

But since this equipment is essential for safety, it’s useful to know a bit more, like how much it has been used, by who, and for what. The ideal would be for every item to have its own passport: a record of its travels through life.

That ideal is rapidly becoming possible thanks to the advent of smart PPE management platforms such as Papertrail. This technology allows you to keep a track of every inspection from purchase to disposal, along with any extra information you may feel is useful.

This data can help you make decisions about what material to use for given tasks, for example, or when you may need to start thinking about ordering replacements.

Linking this information to each item of PPE is the first step in the ongoing evolution towards the Internet of Things, when intelligence will be embedded into everyday items.

In future, PPE items will be able to tell you where they are and what they are doing in real time, communicating via sensors and sending alerts when problems occur. We’re not quite there yet, but the passport concept is a good indication of the direction of travel.

Find out more about smart PPE management

Floating wind: let’s not let safety sink

Last month was a momentous one for those of us who work alongside the renewables industry. The world’s first floating offshore wind farm began delivering electricity to the grid.

Located about 25 kilometres off the coast of Peterhead in Scotland, the Hywind Scotland project is not particularly far from shore. But floating turbine designers aim to go much, much further.

The whole point about floating foundations is they can be towed out to places where the water is too deep for existing bottom-attached structures. That extra distance means far more energy can now be harvested from the wind above the waves.

But it also means construction and operations teams must travel further to get on site, and there is greater distance to travel in the event of an incident.

So while the advent of floating offshore wind is great news for the industry, it also means project owners will need to revisit safety protocols and procedures.

As part of this, it will be vital to make sure all personal protective equipment (PPE) is properly maintained and checked.

Many offshore wind operators are already switching from manual inspection tracking methods to smart PPE management systems such as Papertrail.

It’s a move that not only improves safety, but also boosts efficiency and reduces costs, both of which are important considerations in the ongoing struggle to cut the levelised cost of energy for offshore wind.

Recent developments might mean it is a good idea to float the idea at your company, too.

Find out how one offshore wind contractor is maintaining an unblemished safety record with help from Papertrail.

How smart is your PPE management system?

Being smart is all the rage these days. You have smart watches, smart cars, smart TVs and even smart cities. But what about smart personal protective equipment (PPE) management systems?

According to a new white paper from Papertrail, smart PPE management is a reality now… and could be bringing benefits to your business today.

“These systems use automated remote data entry to create a permanent, one-time, cloud-based record of each PPE item, which can then be updated at any time with inspection records posted on site via a mobile device,” says the paper.

Doing this makes it easy to comply with the demands of professional bodies, meet standards for legal inspections, cut compliance administration, reduce risk for clients and workers, prevent equipment supply bottlenecks and extend the lifetime of PPE equipment.

A move towards smarter PPE management is being driven by shortfalls in current record-keeping approaches, which include spreadsheets and even paper-based files. These soak up administration time and are prone to errors.

Smart PPE management systems, on the other hand, can help cut administrative workloads by more than 90%. At the same time, the white paper notes, the volume of PPE that organisations must handle is increasing.

Research shows the global PPE market could increase at a compound annual growth rate of 6.5% between 2017 and 2022.

Much of this increase is down to corporate use: at the start of 2014 more than a million businesses and 10 million workers in Britain alone were estimated to carry out jobs involving some form of work at height every year.

Finally, tougher health and safety regulations means there is more of a duty on organisations to show that PPE equipment has been maintained and checked according to relevant standards.

Moving to a smart PPE management system can allow you to create and maintain a ‘digital certificate of ownership’ that registers every significant point in the lifespan of an item, from purchase through to disposal.

Furthermore, says the white paper, 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.

“Indeed, over time these smart PPE systems are expected to become the foundation for much broader platforms that can be used for a wide range of applications, from inventory control through to safety compliance,” it says.

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.

Important Health and Safety Events and Courses in 2016

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Health and safety, unlike some industries, isn’t a community of businesses in the traditional sense. It affects everyone, in every work environment, across dozens of industries and sectors. Different rules apply to different sectors, resulting in a wide range of training courses and events.

Papertrail is part of a group of organisations and companies that serve these industries; which is why we have collated this list of the most important health and safety events and training courses for the rest of 2016. We will make a list for 2017 later in the year.

 

This Year’s Events

Continue Reading…

Key Takeaways from HSE’s First Annual Science Review

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Behind the Health & Safety Executive’s (HSE’s) Helping Great Britain Work Well campaign are 850 scientists, from psychologists, microbiologists, and explosive specialists, working to understand how accidents happen and what can be done to improve the country’s safety record.

This campaign intends to use the most cutting-edge developments in science in order to affect a positive and lasting change on workplace behaviour – specifically, safety-related behaviour. Continue Reading…

Health and Safety in the Infrastructure Industry: What’s Required?

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A former government adviser warned the construction industry that health and safety is a “ticking timebomb”, as a result of HSE budget cuts.

The construction industry has been hiring in record numbers in recent years, thanks to a new post-recession boom in property and infrastructure projects. The tragic downside of this is the number of industrial incidents in building sites has doubled in recent years. Between 2001 and 2014 there have been 760 deaths on building and infrastructure sites. Continue Reading…

Common Health and Safety Concerns in the Telecoms Industry

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Can we imagine life without wi-fi and smartphones? There was a time before apps, social networks and a hyper-connected global culture. Connectivity, like our food chain, is all about convenience. Whatever we want, we want it now.

What we don’t often see, or think about, is the industry that makes all of this possible: telecoms providers. The telecoms industry is a label for a sector that includes everything from smartphone manufacturers to communication systems, wireless routers to outsourced call centres.

Globally, this is a multi-trillion dollar industry employing millions of people. Continue Reading…