With the Health & Safety Executive reporting over 65,000 non-fatal and 123 fatal deaths in the UK in 2020/21 there is clearly a need for improvement, particularly in the Construction and Manufacturing sectors – which accounted for almost half the total number. Categorising the recurring factors of such accidents, University of Bristol states the top 10 issues and recommends actions in areas such as Safety Management Systems, Operational Culture and Risk Assessments.
A new software solution from Elecosoft will help companies address many of these factors and boost safety for workers who face risk on maintenance and operational tasks. The new digital Permit to Work module in Elecosoft’s ShireSystem, provides businesses with more control and insight over safety-critical operations such as working at height, where there were 29 deaths in the period.
HSE summarises “A permit-to-work is a documented procedure that authorises certain people to carry out specific work within a specified time frame. It sets out the precautions required to complete the work safely, based on a risk assessment.” Work permits can be used before, during and after a worker carries our duties where they are exposed to risk from issues such as extreme heat or cold, electric shock, confined spaces or working at height.
Businesses traditionally use paper, email and spreadsheets to record and track Permits to Work. This makes it difficult to apply company-wide processes and track performance consistently. It is also very resource intensive, paperwork can get lost or destroyed in harsh environments and so management struggle to meet their compliance commitments.
“We introduced a Permit to Work module in our ShireSystem service to enhance protection for workers and enable businesses to avoid risk of death or injury and so maintain their reputation,” says Gary Marsden, Global Product Manager for ShireSystem at Elecosoft.
The digitalisation of a Permit To Work enhances safety by standardising all the important factors for work permits, such as competence, procedures and communications by making data available at all points of the workflow – from scheduling and preparing through to completion. Using central recording and a digital audit trail means that the system saves time for managers, who can see at a glance that teams are following procedures. As a result, businesses can reduce risk of personal injury as well as damage to property and the maximising or production up-time.
“Feedback from customers is incredibly exciting, with digitalisation providing the flexibility to match permits to specific workflows and Governance, Risk and Compliance procedures that further enhance compliance and HSE alignment in ways that paperwork or more manual based systems could not achieve. Which in turn boosts confidence that new ways of managing risk can help turn the corner towards a safer workplace.” adds Marsden.
Elecosoft developed the new module as an add-on to its ShireSystem software, a Computerised Maintenance Management System (CMMS) and Computer Aided Facilities Management (CAFM) system. ShireSystem is used globally in the manufacturing, construction, aviation, healthcare and the food and drink sectors.