Opportunities are huge for businesses that embrace technology to manage work health and safety (WHS) in the workplace, experts said at an Ai Group webinar last week. 

Those willing to take a carefully planned, staged approach to implement an online safety management system can expect business growth and enhanced compliance and efficiency. 

“If we can take businesses on a digital journey to identify gaps in their WHS systems, we can prevent those gaps from widening,” webinar host Annette Alexander, Ai Group’s Chief Safety Officer, said. 

Automated administration 

An online safety management system is a digital platform that helps organisations implement, manage and maintain health and safety protocols and procedures to meet compliance obligations and maximise resources. 

Ai Group’s Margo Grant, Senior Adviser - WHS Consulting Services, said: “The journey of going digital helps businesses assess what they have in place and gives them the opportunity to declutter and remove what is no longer relevant to their operations.” 

Once the system is up and running, record keeping, notifications and the like are automated. 

“It’s a massive assistance when you have a range of activities competing for your time and resources,” Ms Alexander said. 

“However, being digital won’t in itself make an online safety management system effective. It has to be used. 

“Just like any other safety management system, be it printed and in a folder somewhere that nobody accesses, an online system can be just as useless sitting on a server. If nobody accesses it, it wasn’t worth the effort documenting it.” 

Make it relevant 

Ai Group’s WHS consultants have partnered with Jo Kitney, Managing Director of the Kitney Toolkit, to help members implement online safety management systems that are relevant and embedded into their operations and workplace. 

Using Microsoft 365 software, Ai Group works closely with the client to develop a strategic project plan incorporating the WHS aspects of the digital transition.  

The plan helps to ensure that the health and safety risks of the business are carefully evaluated and communicated and the online safety management system is sucessfully implemented. 

“Throughout the journey, we assist the business with change management, helping to embed online systems by consultation and participation with the workforce,” Ms Grant said. 

When businesses use Microsoft 365, they own their entire online safety management system. 

“They’re not relying on an external provider for maintenance; they can just go in and make changes themselves,” Ms Kitney said. 

“They are their own administrators.” 

This is particularly helpful for members that are tech-savvy but lack time or WHS expertise to take the digital journey alone.     

The 5Ds   

The Kitney Toolkit uses a ‘5D’ model to help businesses implement online safety management systems. 

This staged approach enables expectations to be managed on the digital journey. 

Businesses are guided to: 

  • define what they need, thinking about the outcomes they want and how they will manage change and capture feedback; 
  • discover what’s important to their workplace; 
  • develop the system;
  • deploy the system and get it into use, either with a slow launch or a higher, full-scale launch and  
  • drive it within their organisation. 

“The better enabled we are, the smoother the adoption process and that increases and maximises efficiency and engagement,” Ms Kitney said 

“We can't expect amazing outcomes if we haven't done the groundwork beforehand.” 

Get on the digital bandwagon 

With support from Ai Group, organisations can completely refresh their safety management systems.  

“We develop the entire site for them, getting rid of outdated processes along the way,” Ms Grant said.  

“Workflows and automated processes that can be done through online safety management systems are the key to effectively working in workplace health and safety.”  

Every online journey is rewarding, Ms Grant says. 

“Once it all clicks into place and everyone starts to see how it works, they're like: ‘This is amazing’. It’s worth doing.” 

Ms Kitney agrees. 

“There's nothing greater than those lightbulb moments when engagement is happening,” she said. 

“Digital adoption is definitely a journey, so get on the digital bandwagon.” 

Click here to learn how Ai Group can support your business in implementing an online safety management system. 

Wendy Larter

Wendy Larter is Communications Manager at the Australian Industry Group. She has more than 20 years’ experience as a reporter, features writer, contributor and sub-editor for newspapers and magazines including The Courier-Mail in Brisbane and Metro, the News of the World, The Times and Elle in the UK.