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 3pm GMT on Thursday March 22. 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 3pm on the 22nd. I look forward to you joining us for what will undoubtedly be a really valuable interactive session.


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 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.

Shining a light on solar power safety

The wind industry is doing a great job of creating safe operating conditions in a frequently hostile and dangerous environment. There have been incidents, to be sure, but in general wind has a great safety record compared to other power sectors.

In part, this may be because it is hard to take safety for granted when you are working on a wind turbine. Up high above the ground, surrounded by moving parts, it makes sense to put safety first. Not all renewable energy workers operate in the face of such clear risks.

Take solar panel installers, for instance. Solar PV has got to be one of the safest forms of power generation you can imagine. It has no moving parts. It will not spill or burn. And if the sun isn’t shining it won’t even produce an electric current.

But that is not to say the sector is free from risk. In 2015, for example, a solar installer tragically died after falling through the roof of a barn in Preston, UK, while he was putting up panels.

His employer, Eco Generation, was fined £45,000 after it emerged the company had failed to provide vital safety equipment. “The court was told there were several measures Eco Generation could have taken to protect workers,” Installer Magazine reported.

As with many work-related incidents, it appears this was sadly a case of an accident that could have been avoided if the right safety culture had been in place.

There are many ways a business can improve safety, and one of the most basic, which will also help to improve business efficiency, is to have a smart tracking system in place so each technician goes to work with the right equipment, in the right condition.

The solar sector might seem like a low-risk industry, but as long as rooftops and high voltages are concerned it would pay to play it safe… and introduce the kinds of technologies that wind companies have been relying on for years.

Contact us now for more information about how to make your business a safer, more efficient place.

6 ways to make your workplace safer in 2018

Think - safety first! Workplace safety in 2018

Here’s one New Year’s resolution worth saving for January: what can you do to make your workplace safer? Improving health and safety at work is never a bad idea. And you don’t need to invest much to make it happen. Here are six simple things you should be doing.

  1. Train your people

Basic training can make all the difference when an emergency strikes. Make sure health and safety training is hard-baked into your business and use a tracking platform such as Papertrail to check that people have the knowledge they need.

  1. Inspect your workplace

Loose wires, crumbling infrastructure, blocked fire escapes… it is easy to overlook potential hazards, which is why regular safety inspections are key. Keep a note of your findings, and a schedule of inspection dates, using Papertrail.

  1. Investigate incidents

Get to the bottom of the issue when things go wrong, and bear in mind you may need to present paperwork to the authorities. Store all relevant information in a way that is easy to access.

  1. Maintain records

Inspections and certificates don’t mean much if you don’t keep track of them. Implement a tracking system so you have a 360-degree view of all safety-related matters at any point in time.

  1. Have a health and safety plan in place

Every workplace has its hazards, so know yours and think about what should happen in an emergency. Write it down and make sure your people know about the plan.

  1. Check your equipment

If your workers require personal protective equipment (PPE) then it is vital their kit is checked for safety and reliability. Many PPE manufacturers now make it easy to track inspections via industry-standard platforms such as Papertrail.

Contact us now for more information about how to make your workplace a safer, more efficient place.