What Is HS&E?
Today’s business world is one of constantly increasing complexity, with ever greater risks to personnel, property, equipment, and the environment, alongside ever-growing governmental and industry regulation. Naturally, many companies are, as a result, investing more in the field of Health, Safety, and Environment (HS&E). HS&E systems are those which aim to create a work environment that is safe for employees and the public, eco-friendly, and in compliance with any laws and regulations pertinent to a company’s field of operations. Relevant considerations include occupational safety and health; accident prevention; policy and practice oversight and revision; reduced use, reuse, and recycling of resources; and general environmental friendliness, among others. Among HS&E systems, there are two main categories: paper-based and electronic. This article will explain the basic features of HS&E and take a look at the significant advantages of shifting your company’s HS&E system to an electronic one.
Standard Features of an HS&E System
Some common features of an HS&E system are listed below:
- The setting of HS&E goals and the subsequent drafting, revision, implementation and communication of policies, with the aim of keeping up with (or exceeding) corporate standards and complying with pertinent regulation. This process would involve all levels of management and staff, both as a whole and according to division.
- The definition, documentation, and communication of roles, responsibilities, and accountabilities related to HS&E. This entails both in-house interrelationships as well liaising with external bodies, such as trade associations or regulatory bodies. A strong HS&E program will ensure that staff is supplied with the necessary information, training and resources to maintain effective HS&E practices.
- Continual risk evaluation and management. This includes the identification and minimization of specific hazards, both acute and chronic, and the acquisition, preparation and allocation of the requisite documentation needed for HS&E compliance.
- Setting a timetable and milestones for HS&E implementation, while simultaneously developing contingency plans. Monitoring the progress and efficacy of policies and measures implemented, and holding periodic audits and reviews with an aim to hold relevant staff accountable and determine non-compliance, at the individual, divisional or companywide level. Documenting said audits for instructive and reference purposes, and distributing them to the relevant parties. Such documentation can include incident analysis reports, citations, customer and regulator feedback forms, and risk management analysis reports.
So Why Go Electronic?
As evidenced by the above list, a robust HS&E system naturally entails a great deal of documentation of all kinds, both in terms of outside documentation used for reference and planning (e.g. governmental regulatory codes), as well as in-house documentation produced to establish, implement and review HS&E processes. Apart from the sheer volume of basic documentation, many forms and reports will also undergo endless drafts, revisions and customizations, producing a yet longer paper trail. With this in mind, going electronic with your company’s HS&E is the logical choice, as it can spare you from drowning in a sea of paperwork.
First and foremost, an electronic HS&E system instantly eliminates a massive amount of paper documentation, which as a result both cuts down on the associated costs and hassles of physical paper printing, storage and filing. At the same time, electronic documents are immensely easier to tweak, as your business and industry reality changes in real time, without starting over from scratch. For instance, stock forms (whether in-house or external) are limitlessly customizable in electronic format, to accommodate the specific needs of your company, whether in terms of management, training, audits, etc. What is more, an electronic HS&E system allows for the seamless importation and integration of external documentation, as well as the sharing of in-house documentation with outside bodies without any need to ship paperwork and the hassles this entails, such as shipping costs, security and the liability of lost documentation.
In addition, electronic HS&E systems make all files available to anyone authorized to access them, whether via desktop computer, laptop, tablet or smartphone, be it Android or Apple. The digital format also allows for the storage of images or other non-textual files alongside documentation, such as photos documenting incidents of non-compliance or training procedures. What is more, digital signatures are a cinch to collect and append to forms without the need to seek out the relevant party in person.
A final key advantage of electronic versus paper-based HS&E is the heightened security it offers. Rather than the physical lock and key of the traditional filing cabinet, your company can benefit from the security and redundancy of digital storage, under various encryption protocols, as well as real-time backups to keep track of updates and changes. Furthermore, you can audit any emendations made to documentation, in case of errors or even abuse. Finally, companies can choose to store documentation in the Cloud or in-house under their own proprietary firewalls – or both.
OFS PRO is a field service management system by WebCreek that combines electronic field ticketing, electronic HS&E, asset tracking, employee time tracking, proposal management and invoicing all in one integrated package. Contact us today to find out more about how we can help make your service enterprise more efficient and profitable.