In an increasingly digitized world, using a paper-based occupational health and safety (OHS) management system has become less than ideal. The latest OHS software makes it simpler and faster than ever to find important inspection reports, risk assessments and audits when you need them. If you’ve had enough of dealing with mountains of paper and decided to make the change to OHS software, you may find yourself confronted with a bewildering array of choices. Which OHS software should you choose?
In this article, we’ll offer ten tips that should help you choose the right OHS software for your business or organization.
The 10 tips for choosing the right OHS software are:
- Look at Build versus Buy
- Look for evidence of customer success
- Look at mobile capabilities
- Consider data protection
- Choose transparent pricing
- Look for ongoing support
- Investigate integration
- Check for GDPR compliance
- Look at the on-boarding journey
- Always request a demo
Let’s get right to it!
Tip 1. Look at Build versus Buy
Our first tip for choosing the right OHS software is to familiarize yourself with the differences between building your own in-house OHS management software and paying for a cloud-based OHS system. The best solution for your organization will depend on a variety of factors such as the number of employees, the amount of data and the resources you have available.
Key differences between building and buying OHS software
Developing and managing your own in-house software requires skilled staff and ongoing resources that far exceed anything required by cloud-based OHS software solutions. With cloud-based OHS software, you simply pay for what you need; you can always pay more if your data requirements increase in the future. In-house software can require further investment if your organisation’s OHS data storage requirements increase down the line.
Cloud-based OHS software is popular with businesses such as start-ups who have limited data needs and restricted cash flow. You start out with a fixed monthly price and have no up-front investment. On the other hand, developing OHS software in-house requires a significant up-front investment in terms of both hardware and personnel.
In-house OHS software may quickly cease to be sufficient for your data needs as your company grows. This isn’t an issue with cloud-based software as you can simply rent more storage space and scale up your OHS management software capabilities as and when required.
Understanding these key differences between building and maintaining in-house OHS management software and paying for a cloud-based service can help your organization find the best solution for its needs.
Tip 2. Look for evidence of customer success
The second tip when choosing the right OHS software is to look for signs that the company behind the software has attained high levels of customer service and success. A winning company should be incredibly proud of their customer service record and will have no qualms about putting you in contact with their satisfied clients. To gauge customer success, you could look at the following areas:
Have clients provided written or video testimonials about their experience using the OHS software?
- Company history
Does the company have experience of working with businesses of all sizes across a wide range of industries?
Would other firms recommend or refer the OHS software to you?
Has the company received any industry awards for its customer service?
A reputable company should have a proven track record of helping clients implement their OHS software and should be experienced in terms of onboarding new firms and responding to any system queries they may have.
Tip 3. Look at mobile capabilities
When choosing the right OHS software for your business, it is very important to look at the mobile capabilities on offer. One of the main benefits of moving away from paper files and unwieldy spreadsheets to a software-based OHS management system is that it allows staff to input, manage and review data on the go, whether they are on-site or off-site. The best OHS software solutions offer strong mobile capabilities, such as mobile apps, to help your organization implement its OHS plans.
Leading OHS software solutions have their own mobile app that offers unbeatable advantages compared with software that lacks mobile capabilities. Mobile OHS management apps will greatly simplify your employees’ work and enable them to do the following tasks with ease:
- Report hazards, incidents, and injuries on the go
- Make risk assessments
- Work with simple open workflows
- Receive automated reminders
- Access dashboard reports
Mobile-capable OHS software management greatly enhances your employee’s participation in your health and safety work. Giving them an easy-to-use app with a clear, simple and intuitive interface makes it more likely that risks and incidents will be reported accurately and in a timely manner. This helps makes your business safer, reduces costs, improves efficiency and ensures that you comply with all regulations.
Tip 4. Consider data protection
Whether you want to migrate your OHS software to a new provider or are implementing a software solution for the first time, you’ll want to study data protection very carefully. Always do due diligence and ensure that the software provider is being as upfront and honest with you as possible.
Look for evidence that the company takes data protection seriously. Investigate what technology or precautions are in place to guard against the risk of data loss or theft.
Tip 5. Choose transparent pricing
No matter what stage of the purchasing journey you are at, you should always look for transparent pricing. Some OHS software providers will have secret or hidden costs such as calculating the price based on the number of admins you have. Look out for hidden costs such as these and be on your guard.
Tip 6. Look for ongoing support
Like any software, no OHS software is perfect and can always be improved. When choosing the right OHS software for your company, you’ll want to look carefully at the level of ongoing support that is offered. Choose software that comes with regular updates and improvements after you make the initial investment.
To find out more about ongoing support, here are a few options to try:
Read the white paper
Reputable OHS software should have a professionally crafted white paper or technical document that fully outlines the nature of the ongoing support on offer.
Testimonials or referrals
Asking about ongoing support is a key topic when you are following the second tip about looking for evidence of customer success. Ask firms that are using the software whether the OHS software is regularly updated and whether they have been satisfied or dissatisfied with the level of ongoing support on offer.
Tip 7. Investigate integration
An important tip for choosing the right OHS software for your organization is to look at how well it integrates with systems you already have in place. It is important for all departments, such as Human Resources and Accounting, to be able to use the software and implement it effectively with their existing hardware and resources.
Leading OHS software providers consistently strive to make integration as simple as possible for their clients. They are experienced in working with a variety of in-house systems such as personal databases, Human Resource, financial systems and many more. They will often offer additional support staff to help with any assistance during the initial set-up period.
Tip 8. Check for GDPR compliance
Now that GDPR has come into force, it is critically important that any OHS software you choose helps you comply with all GDPR regulations. Your HR departments and IT staff are likely already up to speed with this, so it is essential that any OHS software you invest in covers this important area too.
GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) is the new EU regulation for data protection that came into force on 25 May 2018. It matters for any organization that works with and across EU countries and applies even if you are only collecting OHS data for use in your own department. GDPR helps give people more control over their personal data and makes businesses accountable for what they do with the data they collect.
How does GDPR relate to safety data?
Your OHS management system will store a vast amount of personal data including peoples’ names and home addresses. You may also have individual risk assessments for people on work experience or expectant or new mothers. If you have a vehicle fleet, your OHS data almost certainly contains the home address of your drivers. All of this data is affected by GDPR rules.
Whether you still record everything on paper forms or are using Word or Excel to create reports, assessments, and checklists, GDPR still applies to all personal data, so any OHS software you choose should adhere to the six principals of GDPR:
- Personal data shall be processed lawfully, fairly and in a transparent manner
- Personal data shall be collected for specified, explicit and legitimate purposes and not further processed in a manner incompatible with the initial purposes
- Personal data shall be adequate, relevant and limited to what is necessary for processing requirements
- Personal data shall be accurate and kept up to date
- Personal data shall be kept in an identifiable form only as long as is necessary for its intended purposes
- Personal data shall be processed in a secure manner that protects against unauthorized or unlawful access, accidental loss, destruction or damage
If you are in the process of choosing the right OHS software, ask the provider how their software complies with GDPR. Ensure that you understand how to set the correct access levels so that people can only see relevant personal data. For example, your managers wouldn’t need access to the training records of people across their entire organization, only the people within their department. Your organization must be able to prove that it is compliant, so only invest in software that helps you achieve this goal.
Tip 9. Look at the on-boarding journey
Implementing any new software solution can be daunting, especially if you are trying to choose the right OHS software. You and your staff need to learn how to use the new software and this inevitably involves organization-wide training. Many of your staff will need ongoing support as they become accustomed to the software. This process is known as the ‘on-boarding journey’ and it’s worth looking into before you make a final decision about which OHS software to use.
To find out more, look for testimonials from other firms, or even try to contact them directly if you can. They may be able to tell you how they found the on-boarding process with a particular company and whether they felt well supported as they started using the new OHS software.
Most reputable OHS software providers will offer a breakdown of what you can expect from the on-boarding journey with their software. They should outline the following areas:
- The types of support your staff can expect to receive.
- Which staff members will be assigned to you (such as a Customer Support Manager)
- Details of any ongoing support such as weekly webinars
- The software training process
- A typical timeline with milestones when implementing the OHS software
This should give your organization an overview of what to expect from the on-boarding process and how long it should take. Most firms adopt a ‘Train the trainer’ approach where they train up a number of your employees who then train their colleagues to use the new software.
Tip 10. Always request a demo
Overall, one of the best tips for choosing the right OHS software is to request a demo. This will give you first-hand experience of the software interface and its functions besides showing you examples of how it could be used to tackle issues in your organization.
These ten tips should help you choose the right OHS software for your company, business or organisation. While OHS software offers many advantages over traditional paper-based systems, a wide range of solutions are available so taking the time to find the most suitable one is essential. These tips should provide a helpful checklist that you can use to find the best option. Good luck!