The National Examination Board in Occupational Safety and Health (NEBOSH) trains 35,000 candidates each year over 500 vocationally-related qualifications for today’s health and safety professionals. A popular area with students in recent years has been the adoption of safety software and technology in health and safety and its potential. We’ve noticed this because we’re often contacted with requests for data and evidence to back up various hypotheses.

Paper’s legacy hangs heavy over health and safety compliance. It’s a reassuring medium; it gives people peace of mind and it’s hard to argue non-compliance when faced with a mountain of paper and ring-binders that are bursting at the seams. It’s the same reason companies still send junk mail – paper and print are trusted.

However, software has touched every part of our professional and personal lives, making us work better, faster and easier, and it won’t be long before NEBOSH students stop contacting us looking to frame the technology situation in the health and safety sector. The answer will be too obvious for the question to be asked.

One only has to visit the Health and Safety for Beginners forums and search “technology” to see how much enquiry there is into safety management software to reveal a level of conversation now that we wouldn’t have seen maybe five years ago.

We wrote recently on how health and safety management software has become all but essential to achieving OHSAS 18001. The central tenet to this international standard is strong policies and procedures – a paper trail that quickly gets out of hand in mid-size to large companies, making safety management software for administering these policies and procedures almost a ‘standard in a box’.

Action tracking is an area where software-based health and safety management systems excel, as per this thread. Health and safety compliance requires tracking corrective and improvement actions from the likes of external/internal audits, customer inspections, internal inspections, observations or investigations. Who has the resources to create and manage something like that manually?

Safety management software can take care of almost all the cumbersome paperwork involved, in a central location (and not in a filing cabinet!). Automatic reporting, visibility of organisation-wide incidents via a user-specific dashboard, a comprehensive set of tools for documenting, reporting, investigating and, finally, providing everyone involved with key information of what actions need to be taken immediately. It’s time for paper to make like a tree and…