Maximising Health and Safety Through CAFM
15/07/21 | Rebecca Drewett
Learn why CAFM software can relieve the burden of managing the health and safety of your teams and make the overall compliance of your facilities much more straightforward.
Among the many responsibilities that FMs take ownership of in their day-to-day activities, protecting the health and safety of everyone on site is one of the most pressing.
Ensuring that engineers, contractors and other workers have all the information and resources necessary to complete takes safely is a big burden for FM professionals. A burden that only grows when you consider the high proportion of lone workers operating in the sector (especially post COVID-19) and the fact that FM tasks are continuously evolving and, in many cases, growing in complexity with each passing year.
Plus, as much as we hear about health and safety, that doesn’t mean that employees necessarily feel convinced over their wellbeing. In fact, recent research conducted by building technology firm Honeywell has indicated that 71% of UK workers don’t feel completely safe in their employer’s buildings.
This highlights that more must be done by the FM sector to reassure workers that all required safety measures are being applied in their places of work, as well as to confirm to management that they aren’t at risk of large fines and reprimands for failing to achieve compliance across their facilities.
As tasks become more convoluted and the regulations behind them more comprehensive, it is near-impossible to guarantee total compliance without a capable CAFM software solution in place. Here, we will outline how CAFM systems can heighten health and safety throughout your facilities, keeping your people safe and your company compliant.
Health and safety compliance challenges facing companies
Within the FM industry, there is a wide range of challenges that can hurt a company’s ability to stay on top of their health and safety obligations – leaving them open to potential breaches, audit failures and heavy fines. We’ve pinpointed some of the most common of these below:
Prevalence of lone workers
In the FM sector, it is not uncommon for individual engineers to be conducting maintenance works and repairs alone, without direct supervision by colleagues or supervisors. This work can be conducted in any location inside or outside a building, at any time of day, and therefore pose a problem if the worker in question suffers an accident while completing a task.
Environmental or social hazards that a lone worker could face may include:
Slips, trips and falls
Strains while handling, lifting or carrying
Being struck by a moving object
Falls from height
Without a means to immediately notify someone that an accident has taken place, the lone worker’s condition may worsen significantly during the wait, hurting their overall prognosis.
Plus, if their employer cannot provide a clear, comprehensive trail of forms such as completed risk assessments, or prove that the worker in question had all resources they needed to perform the task safely available to them, it may result in the company receiving hefty fines and punishment due to this breach of health and safety.
Policy and procedure management
The nature of FM means that workers will often be spread far and wide across a site, making it challenging to get all the necessary policy and procedure documents they need to perform the role they are tasked with.
However, difficulty reaching workers is no excuse for non-compliance – your teams need the right resources to work safely, or your company stands to pay the price.
When you consider the potential scope of responsibilities for FM engineers, this need to communicate relevant safety procedures only heightens. Workers must have sight of everything they need to complete their task safely and compliantly, which may include:
Building regulations and documentation
List of products that should or shouldn’t be used
If works require planning permission
Times of day certain tasks may be performed
Processes for notifying relevant on-site contacts
Dynamic, task-specific risks
The work environments for FM professionals are regularly changing, and consequently this changes the level of risk they face from one job to the next. As such, having static resources and directions for managing certain tasks is problematic, as the guidance might be out-of-date in a matter of weeks or months.
Failure to identify and control site-specific or task-specific risks on a consistent basis not only puts the wellbeing of those responsible for fulfilling tasks at risk, but can increase the likelihood that your processes are non-compliant. That means that if anything goes wrong, you could be forced to pay significant fines.
Handling COSHH products
With many of the services FM teams provide involving the use of COSHH (Control of Substances Hazardous to Health) products, it is critical that companies make their workers aware of what substances they may be exposed to, and how to handle these safely to minimise any risks to their health.
Staff who are exposed to COSHH products without proper knowledge, training, PPE, tools or in unsafe conditions are at risk of significant harm. In addition, some of these products will have the potential to cause irreparable damage to the fabric of a building, fixtures and other property, which in turn can incur substantial repair costs.
How CAFM software keeps health and safety under control
With these prevailing problems in mind, how can CAFM software make a meaningful difference in protecting the health and safety of workers and achieving complete compliance across your company?
Fundamentally, analogue solutions and paper records are not only incredibly time-consuming and open to human error, but they are near-impossible to keep and quickly access. A CAFM system in comparison gives you complete visibility over all records and allows you to track all relevant information from start to finish.
Specifically, in relation to health and safety, CAFM enables you to:
Attach relevant manuals, policies and procedures to specific assets
When establishing asset registers for your building, you can attach any relevant documentation to each asset that will be beneficial to your engineers to have available when they are performing maintenance or repairs on it.
This means that, instead of carrying around physical manuals or having to hold all information in their heads, engineers can see all instructions and safety procedures for their task at the click of a button. This enables them to complete their task safely and compliantly, minimising the risk of accidents occurring.
Receive instant notifications if accidents occur
To reduce the chances of accidents involving lone workers going unrecognised or unreported for extended periods of time, a mobile CAFM solution will enable them to send out an alert if something has happened, so they can receive immediate assistance from their colleagues.
Even better, by allowing FM teams to track the movements and activity of all active workers both on and off-site, companies can be quickly alerted if anything unforeseen occurs preventing the worker from fulfilling their task in the window expected of them.
Create, update and track safety checklists
As part of your PPM schedules assigned to assets throughout your facilities, you can input various conditions and checkpoints that must be fulfilled to ensure the task is conducted safely according to the legislation it is connected to (e.g. SFG20).
By having these checklists in place you can confirm that your engineers are performing all necessary safety measures for every job, and maintain a completely accurate, comprehensive audit trail to show regulators if you are inspected. This helps guarantee you are not at risk of non-compliance, protecting your company from the fines this can lead to.
Lock target SLAs, Tasks and PPM schedules
For tasks where there is a risk of non-compliance, a sophisticated CAFM solution will be able to lock down tasks and PPM schedules to ensure they can’t be signed off or completed until the necessary compliance work has been fulfilled.
If certificates are required, this will keep tasks live until they’re marked as having the correct documentation. This layer of protection ensures that crucial health and safety measures can’t be overlooked by engineers during the course of their day, providing reassurance that their health is being protected and that you will not be liable for any omissions.
All compliance-centric information in one place
From here, you can keep everything related to your building and asset compliance in plain sight at all times, with all regulations, permit classes, checklists and certificates accessible in a few clicks. This means there is no need for this data to go missing or fall out of date, so you are always on top of your company’s health and safety obligations.
Oversee and manage your inventory of hazardous substances
From their purchase and initial storage through to their eventual usage and disposal, every step in the use of COSHH products must be documented and the people involved properly trained to handle it.
Through your CAFM solution, you will be able to manage all of this information from one location, as well as indicate that only people with the correct certifications can handle certain materials, preventing any safety breaches or failure to work compliantly.
Follow-up on staff training and certifications
Over time company-wide H&S certificates or staff accreditations may expire, and if these are allowed to lapse then this could leave you liable upon inspection.
Employing a CAFM system can ensure that you are given plenty of notice and updates when a particular certificate is close to expiry, or if an employee needs to complete training or undergo any other process to renew their accreditations to perform various tasks.
Create follow-up tasks, management alerts, asset replacements and more
Every facility has to follow the compliance requirements and/or regulations of the industry it operates within, and it is vital that these are fulfilled thoroughly.
So, when compliance work has been carried out, an effective CAFM system should be able to issue follow-up tasks, alerts, asset replacements or decommissions and more to guarantee that all obligations are fulfilled. Our software can even issue certifications on the job, giving you total peace of mind that all tasks are completed in accordance with the regulations you are bound by.
Keep compliance under control with Concept Evolution
The continued safety and wellbeing of your employees is one of a company’s biggest responsibilities, and one that should never be taken lightly.
As tasks grow in complexity and the regulations underlying them become increasingly elaborate, attempting to manage this manually can lead to avoidable accidents and your business being left liable to substantial fines.
By incorporating future-proof CAFM software, such as our own Concept Evolution system, you can gain complete peace of mind over your compliance to health and safety requirements, protecting your company from negative consequences and making a meaningful difference to the wellbeing of your staff during their day-to-day routines.
To learn more about the incredible capabilities of Concept Evolution across the spectrum of FM duties, get in touch with our team today.
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