What do you understand by ‘safety’?

What do you understand by ‘health and safety’? For many business leaders, health and safety is a compliance issue. For the good of society, we have legal checks and balances in place to minimise the chances of accident and infection in the workplace.

Some businesses treat these checks and balances in the same way as some motorists treat speed limits: it’s OK to bend the rules so long as you don’t get caught. In practice, this may mean ticking just enough boxes to give an impression of compliance.

But a growing number of organisations, in my view, are taking a different approach. They recognise that compliance is just a small part of what workplace health and safety is about. What is really important is risk reduction.

Think about it: if someone gets injured in your workplace then you face an increased risk of legal action. You risk operational downtime. Financial loss. Reputational damage. Staff discontent. Recruitment challenges.

On the flip side, having a good health and safety record can pay off with higher staff satisfaction, lower absenteeism and reduced legal, financial and reputational risk.

Seen this way, it makes sense to look at workplace health and safety as something worth investing in. And this investment need not stop with obvious measures, such as staff training and safety equipment procurement.

It could, and should, also cover all the systems and processes needed to maintain a high safety profile, including regular inspection schedules and a smart inspection-tracking platform. Anything else would be taking a risk.

  • Contact us about how to make your organisation safer and more efficient.

Tragedy highlights need for PPE management

An investigation into a tragic accident has once again put the spotlight on the need for
better personal protective equipment (PPE) management.

Zachary Cox’s fatal fall attracted press attention because it happened on an emblematic
site: the Khalifa International Stadium in Doha, which will be used in the Qatar 2022 World
Cup.

The incident, in January 2017, could clearly have been avoided if PPE safety standards had
been up to scratch. An inquest heard Cox was using potentially lethal equipment,
according to a report by the BBC.

Cox was doubly unlucky, the report says. He fell when a faulty hoist broke, but the safety
harness that could have saved his life also snapped. The 40-year- old worker, born in South
Africa but living in the UK, died from multiple injuries after dropping 130 feet.
It is unclear whether Cox’s equipment had undergone regular inspections, but the findings
of the inquest make this seem unlikely.

The coroner for the case said working practices on the site were “inherently unsafe” and
that site managers “knew or should have known that they were effectively requiring a
group of their workers to rely on potentially lethal equipment.”

Following the inquest, Cox’s family called for lessons to be learnt.

One of these must surely be that any major building site should not only have appropriate
working-at- height safety procedures in place, but that these procedures should be
transparent and regularly audited.

As we can attest at Papertrail, putting the systems in place to achieve this is not hard or
costly. And if it helps to preserve lives, surely no expense should be spared.

Contact us now for more information about how to make your organisation safer and
more efficient.

Get ready to change your view of PPE

If you know Papertrail then you’ll know we’re passionate about modernising the way personal protective equipment (PPE) is managed, to improve safety and efficiency while cutting costs.

It’s a message we try to spread in all our communications, including this blog. And it’s not just us who are banging the drum for more advanced PPE management.

DMM, for example, has been leading developments in PPE for more than 30 years, and is a big advocate for smarter management systems.

That’s why this month I’m delighted to welcome DMM’s product manager, Rob Partridge, on Papertrail’s first-ever webinar: ‘unlocking the secret to smart PPE management.’ This webinar is aimed at novice and experienced PPE managers alike and will help you:

  • See why PPE manufacturers such as DMM now recommend all their customers adopt smart management systems.
  • Understand how you can immediately save money and improve efficiency with smart PPE management.
  • Experience how quick and easy it is to implement smart PPA management systems.

The 45-minute webinar is completely free and will kick off at 4pm GMT on Thursday April 19th. Besides hearing from myself and Rob, you can get to ask us all those niggling questions you’ve been wanting to get answers to.

To make sure you don’t miss you place on this unique webinar, take a minute to sign up now and block out your diary at 4pm on the 19th. I look forward to you joining us for what will undoubtedly be a really valuable interactive session.

FREE WEBINAR – SIGN UP NOW!!

Making sure your white-knuckle experience is safe

How do you make sure your customers are perfectly safe while giving them the thrill of their lives? That’s the dilemma facing UK-based Zip World, which has built a business on pushing the boundaries of what is possible with a pulley suspended on a cable.

In 2013, for example, it established the record for the longest zip line in Europe, spanning a mile and sending riders along at more than 100 miles per hour. The following year, it opened Zip World Velocity, the first four-person zip line in Europe.

And in 2015 it inaugurated Zip World Caverns, the world’s largest fully underground zip line course. Other Zip World attractions, including Bounce Below, Zip World Fforest and Zip World London, all vie to offer thrill seekers the very best in white-knuckle rides.

Naturally, though, Zip World takes care to make sure its customers are perfectly safe all the time. Items such as carabiners and harnesses are inspected every month, while the cables and other zip line components are checked daily.

Carrying out the checks is only part of the story, though. As its business has grown, Zip World has needed to professionalise the way it recorded and stored inspection reports. So in 2014 the company introduced Papertrail to manage all of its inspection activity.

Today, the system handles more than 7,500 records on behalf of 46 members of staff, who deal with critical business functions ranging from employee qualifications and certification to the management of equipment across five venues.

The company is now enjoying a host of benefits too long to go through in a short blog post. But if you want to find out more, take a look at our new Zip World case study. And then get in touch to find out how your white-knuckle experience could be just as safe.

Contact us now for more information about how to make your business safer and more efficient.

Could ‘small data’ help cut offshore wind costs?

Talk of ‘big data’ is all the rage in the wind industry. The ability to crunch massive amounts of turbine data in near-real time is seen as a key way to help cut costs, particularly in operations and maintenance.

Offshore Wind Magazine, for instance, says “big data has a large role to play in areas such as turbine design, monitoring and maintenance.”

This is undoubtedly true. The problem for wind farm operators is that big data systems are complex and expensive. And sometimes it can be hard to see if the financial benefits they will yield are worth the investment.

Not all wind farm data requires a big number-crunching approach, though. Take equipment inspection records, for instance.

The mere act of using a platform such as Papertrail to track this data can yield significant benefits in terms of operational efficiency, cost reduction and worker safety.

And since it is delivered from the cloud in a software-as-a-service package, it couldn’t be easier to set up and use. It’s big data in terms of its capabilities and advantages, but decidedly ‘small data’ in terms of its drain on the business.

Papertrail is already being used to great advantage across the offshore wind industry, by major project developers such as Innogy Renewables UK and specialist contractors such as Offshore Painting Services.

Why not use this small data gem to help your renewables business run more safely, smoothly and cost-effectively, too?

Contact us now for more information about how to make your organisation safer and more efficient.

Improving council services with better inspections

Collecting waste might not sound like a dangerous affair. But it happens to be one of the riskiest occupations in the UK, mainly because it involves operating heavy machinery and operatives working alongside large vehicles in the highway.

This means local authorities need to keep a close eye on health and safety standards in their refuse collection operations. It is important to carry out regular inspections and deal rapidly with any shortcomings.

But maintaining first-rate inspection regimes is not easy when waste collection crews are constantly on the move, often labouring outside of normal working hours with little time or opportunity to stop.

At the City of Cardiff Council, the inspection team found a way to overcome this problem: using Papertrail for its safety equipment inspection records.

With Papertrail, inspection results can be logged from anywhere, using mobile devices, and the system could be set up to trigger alerts regarding follow-up actions.

In April 2017, Papertrail was rolled out across the Council’s waste collection services, which covers two shifts consisting of 120 workers and 36 vehicles. Today, Papertrail is helping to improve the quality of Cardiff’s waste and recycling collections in many ways.

To get the full story, have a look at our Cardiff Council case study. And if you are interested in getting similar results in your organisation, then get in touch.

Contact us now for more information about how to make your organistion safer and more efficient.

Let’s help the UK make working at height safer

I’m unaware of the last time working-at-height safety was a government priority. But last month the UK Government issued a call for advice on this very topic.

More specifically, a committee investigating working-at-height injuries and fatalities put out a statement, through an All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Working at Height, seeking information to understand fatal fall causes and solutions.

The committee is concerned that falls from height, and falling objects, account for the highest number of preventable fatalities and injuries across all sectors in UK industry, according to the APPG.

“The APPG will seek to understand the root causes and propose effective, sensible measures to reduce this toll and send people safely home from work,” it says.

For now, the APPG is asking industry players to provide answers to eight simple questions, such as ‘what are the primary reasons for falls?’ or ‘are there specific measures you believe are necessary?’

As a business committed to improving operational safety through improved personal protective equipment management, at Papertrail we are naturally delighted that this issue has been taken up by the UK administration.

And we are keen to spread the word so the APPG gets as much support as it can from industries employing working-at-height practices.

To get involved, take a look at the APPG’s questions and submit your responses by March 2, 2018, to appg@workingatheight.info or Working At Height APPG, 32-34 Great Peter Street, London, SW1P 2DB.

Contact us now for more information about how to make your organisation safer and more efficient.

Could greener energy yield a ‘safety dividend’?

The UK energy system ended last year on a high note. According to the National Grid, 2017 was the greenest year ever for electricity in the country. Renewable energy sources provided more power than coal for around 90% of the year.

This is clearly great news for those concerned about climate change. But increasing the UK’s reliance on renewable energy may have another, less obvious advantage, linked to safety.

Coal, oil and gas are all hard to get out of the ground. They can catch fire or explode when handled. And they are major sources of air pollution. This all means they can have a significant impact on health.

Coal, for instance, is thought to cause 100,000 deaths per trillion kilowatt-hours of electricity, which is about the amount that Russia consumed in 2014. For the same amount of electricity, oil kills around 36,000 people. Natural gas results in 4,000 deaths.

The death rates from renewable energy, meanwhile, are comparatively small. Rooftop solar panels, which are made in pristine lab conditions and have practically no pollution or maintenance risks during operation, have a mortality rate of 440 per trillion kilowatt-hours.

Wind power is even safer, with a mortality rate of just 150 per trillion kilowatt-hours. Naturally, these figures should not discourage renewable energy companies from striving to improve safety.

But it is also clear that simply switching from fossil fuels to wind and solar could cut energy sector-related deaths by two or three orders of magnitude, which is a major achievement.

The key, of course, will be for the wind and solar industries to maintain or improve their safety records wherever possible. This won’t happen automatically.

On the contrary, even though wind and solar are inherently safer than coal, oil or gas, the fact that renewable energy sectors are growing rapidly means special emphasis needs to be placed on keeping safety standards high while scaling up production.

Part of this will need to be through improved training and policies. Part of it will be through the application of technologies ranging from drone-based inspections to personal protective safety equipment management systems, such as Papertrail.

Provided renewables firms make sure this remains a priority, the move to clean energy could deliver a safety dividend as well as better deal on climate.

Contact us now for more information about how to make your wind business safer.

Include smart PPE management in your 2018 budget

It’s that time of year when most company leaders start to ponder the year ahead. You think about objectives, worry over targets and start to juggle budgets. That last part is never easy, particularly since 2018 will likely be another belt-tightening year for many companies.

When it comes to personal protective equipment (PPE), the task is doubly difficult. This material costs money but does not generate revenues. Instead, it’s primary role is risk mitigation: making sure your business does not suffer an expensive catastrophe.

Putting a price on an unforeseen event is almost impossible, so the chances are you will invest enough to make sure you meet legal and best-practice guidelines, and leave it at that. But this year you might want to throw smart PPE management into the mix, too.

Naturally, implementing a PPE management platform carries a cost. But unlike PPE itself, a smart management system can yield a measurable return on investment. XI Training, for example, has cut PPE administration times by 60% after bringing in Papertrail.

And administrative savings are just the start. According to Cleo Cabuz, vice president of engineering and chief technology officer for Honeywell Industrial Safety, 2018 will be the year that smart PPE takes off.

“In future, by using retrofitted wireless data transfer technology, everything from eyewear to hardhats could become connected, while further innovations in wearable sensors could make it possible to monitor any parameter that affects a worker’s health,” Cabuz says.

Part of that evolution will involve having platforms that can store information about each PPE item, along with its work history and future—a kind of digital passport, if you like.

That kind of platform exists today, and could already be delivering benefits to your business in terms of reduced cost, improved efficiency and better safety. Why not make 2018 the year you introduce it into your organisation?

Contact us now for more information about how to make your business safer and more efficient.

Elevating wind turbine lift maintenance

Could smart tracking systems give wind turbine elevator maintenance a lift? This might seem like a trivial question, but it’s not. Lift availability is an important health and safety topic for the wind industry. And on reflection, it’s hardly surprising.

In 2015, according to the US National Renewable Energy Laboratory, the average hub height for offshore wind turbines was around 90 metres, which is about as tall as the Statue of Liberty (or a bit shorter than Big Ben, for readers this side of the pond).

As you can imagine, having to climb up stairs this height is an exhausting affair, particularly within the confines of a turbine tower. That is why turbine towers come equipped with lifts.

According to a G+ Global Offshore Wind report from March 2017, “lifts are ‘usually available’; however, where unavailability occurs it can have a dramatic impact upon work packages, and its effects can be chronic both for physical health and morale.”

Clearly, if a lift isn’t working then it would be pointless and possibly dangerous to try to use it. But lifts aren’t always unavailable because of a fault. G+ says: “Another common reason for unavailability is the lift being overdue for its statutory inspection.”

With the availability of platforms such as Papertrail, specifically designed to track inspections, it seems remarkable that wind farm operators could hamper productivity and compromise health and safety because of an inspection oversight.

And let’s be clear about the risks here. Says G+: “The impact of climbing activities on health, safety and well-being is considered to be significant, and effects can be direct or indirect. Direct effects include immediate and delayed musculoskeletal strain.

“Issues have included several older technicians suffering from knee muscle strain and pain and these effects have been reported on incident/injury forms.”

It is important to stress that offshore wind technicians work in environments where every care is usually taken to ensure health and safety.

In 2016, for example, there were only nine emergency response or medical evacuation incidents in the whole of the UK offshore sector. Everyone in the industry will be hoping to keep this level as low as possible.

All we are saying is that, in this day and age, missing lift inspections shouldn’t be a factor.

Contact us now for more information about how to make your renewable energy business safer and more efficient.