New functionality in Papertrail: Checklists

Since 2013, Papertrail has been developing Inspection management systems for clients; to date over 5 million inspections have been carried out by our users using Papertrail, an achievement that we are proud of and a number that is growing ever larger each day!

We are not resting on our laurels and letting this grow ‘organically’, in fact, we are even more motivated to continue the development of the right features, in conjunction with our users and safety managers and inspectors, to use in their workplace.

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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.

A nightmare on spreadsheet

Running away from spreadsheet monster

Our latest customer case study has all the makings of a Hollywood blockbuster. There’s a faraway location (Sweden, to be precise). A bunch of plucky young adventurers, in the staff of top working-at-height training, products and consultancy firm C2 Vertical Safety.

And then there’s an evil antagonist: the spreadsheet. For inspection recordkeeping, “we tried different systems, but we always ended up coming back to the same spreadsheet nightmare,” says Martin Malmberg, C2’s direct business marketing director.

Like Grendel in the Anglo-Saxon poem Beowulf, the spreadsheet would come stalking during C2’s darkest moments: when the company carried out its annual midwinter stock-taking exercise.

Then, C2 had to practically shut down for a fortnight so staff could carry out equipment inspections and bring records up to date. But help came from the hand of a stranger from afar.

C2 happened to know a UK company called Lyon, which was using Papertrail to track its Industrial Rope Access Trade Association certifications. C2 was intrigued by the platform’s potential, and that’s how the story came to a happy ending.

“We tried it and fell in love instantly,” says Malmberg. “It’s very easy to learn and easy to use.”

The annual inspection is more efficient thanks to Papertrail. And Papertrail’s ease of deployment and use of the platform is important because C2 now sells the platform to its customers.

Over time, says Malmberg, C2 hopes to use Papertrail’s powerful reporting and analytics capabilities to remind clients when they should be scheduling training and equipment inspections or replacements. Needless to say, we’re looking forward to the sequel.

Read the full case study And contact us for more information 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.

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.

Questions about GDPR?

If you’re working in a European Union (EU) business and you haven’t heard about GDPR already, then you should have… and you will in 2018.

The General Data Protection Regulation is an instrument by which the European Parliament, the Council of the European Union and the European Commission intend to strengthen and unify data protection for all individuals within the EU.

It has been variously called “a game-changer” and “the biggest shake up in 20 years.”

But for companies that must comply with it by May 25 this year, the regulation, which gives citizens much greater control their personal data, is potentially a bit of a headache.

The key thrust of GDPR is that it allows citizens to better control their personally identifiable information (PII). The EU says the regulation will give citizens:

  • The right to know when their personal data has been hacked, since organisations will have to inform individuals promptly of serious data breaches, and will have to notify the relevant data protection authority.
  • A clearer right to erasure (or the ‘right to be forgotten’), so when an individual no longer wants their data processed and there is no legitimate reason to keep it, the data will be removed.
  • Easier access to their data, including providing more information on how that data is processed and ensuring that the information is available in a clear and understandable way.
  • A new right to data portability, making it easier to transmit personal data between service providers.

For companies, the challenge will be to identify all relevant PII and make sure it can be easily provided to an individual or deleted if needed. And this PII can include all information about staff and customer certifications.

If you hold this kind of information on spreadsheets or other traditional methods, complying with GDPR could be a problem because you have to track down and take into account every single copy of documents containing PII.

That is why you might want to consider moving to a central, cloud-based system such as Papertrail. With Papertrail, you store all relevant certification data in one place, and can access it quickly and easily from anywhere.

You also benefit from holding the data in a highly secure environment, where access is restricted to the administrators you choose. In theory, Papertrail covers most of the GDPR boxes you need to worry about… but by all means get in touch for more information.

Contact us now for more information about how to make your business more efficient and compliant, no matter where you are.

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.