Posted: 16 Jul. 2019 5 min. read

Switch on a smarter approach to HSE

Part of the HSE management – Comply, improve, excel series

Many organisations continue to face challenges executing effective Health, Safety and Environmental (HSE) programmes, despite the widespread availability of digital systems intended to bring structured, user friendly and robust replacements for error prone ‘pen and paper’ approaches.


"Few organisations have explored the potential impact of today’s more innovative technologies on HSE"

There is a strong case for reinvention of the way businesses achieve HSE outcomes. Many incumbent digital solutions were born in a time when the ambition was to replicate paper forms in digital format. Since this period of earlier adoption, the world around us has since progressed at an astonishing rate. Few organisations have explored the potential impact of today’s more innovative technologies on HSE – where a wholesale redesign is possible, rather than a simple ‘digitisation’ exercise (think of the leap to automated passenger recognition via CCTV rather than simply having a ‘digital boarding pass’ on your phone).

There are a number of clear examples where application of the right technology could free up time burned completing ‘HSE processes’, redistributing that effort to focus on managing an organisation’s most pressing HSE risks.

"A need for documentary, rather than documented evidence"

The recent publication of ISO 45001, the first globally recognised standard for health and safety management (replacing BS EN OHSAS 18001), brought a subtle but key change;– a need for documentary, rather than documented evidence – paving the way for organisations to demonstrate compliance beyond the constraints of the written word; video, photographs and audio will be pervasive forms of communication in the HSE management system of tomorrow.

Technology products that leverage ‘non-written’ media will be front and centre of the paradigm shift in HSE management. Solutions that are within our reach today include:

  • Integration of multiple data systems to automate previously cumbersome efforts to collate incident investigation information; such as CCTV footage, training history, operational data, and past relevant incidents.
  • The use of video analytics to automate observation based auditing (such as behavioural based safety audits). Managers will be able to measure compliance levels ‘round the clock’ in place of the snapshot previously provided by a single auditor. Real time results enable managers to measure the impact of their instructions; i.e. "did my start-of shift safety briefing help reduce the number of non-compliant actions compared to yesterday?"
  • Location tagged photos to report hazards and trigger notification to managers who enter a defined ‘geofence’; i.e., walking within ‘X metres’ of the reported hazard, allowing prompt action – reducing the reliance on computer access to ‘search’ for issues.

Making use of available technology to achieve HSE outcomes can help bridge the long-standing gap between business expectations and employee engagement levels on the topic; bringing simplification to users, reduce processing time and help make the outputs more impactful.

Are you ready for change?


  • Where have you already used technology in your HSE arrangements, and are those systems in good health (being used pervasively, and producing good quality data)? If you use multiple systems, is there a "single truth" dataset used by all?
  • Do those systems meet the needs of the operators; presenting information when and where it’s needed, in a format that’s easy to interact with?
  • Where you have deployed digital systems, does this positively support employee engagement across all levels, or does the use of technology exclude the engagement of ‘non-computer-based’ colleagues?

Confidence to succeed responsibly

Many of the most impactful opportunities facing businesses today require vision and confidence as they largely don’t exist as ‘off the shelf’ solutions. Technology is advancing rapidly and digitising processes in a business saves time and resources which can be allocated elsewhere in your business. In our current world, where HSE is an ever increasing importance for companies, technology can reduce the likelihood of incidents and in turn increase productivity and general morale for the company.

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