Embracing technology trends to enhance workplace health and safety
After two years of COVID-19 restrictions, more New Zealand workplaces are opening up at the Orange traffic light setting. As a result, the public and private sector has been encouraged to ‘up its game’ when it comes to on-site visitor, employee and contractor management. Auckland-based Kevin McAfee, head of HealthSafe, is encouraging organisations around Aotearoa to implement software that will protect people, mitigate risk and meet their health and safety obligations. McAfee said this is important at a time when more New Zealanders are returning to physical places of work and study, and medical facilities look for more efficient ways to operate. McAfee said that while New Zealand businesses and public entities have come a long way with their health and safety practices, more needs to be done to minimise and manage risk.
“A simple step which IT staff and HR managers can take right now is to re-evaluate their visitor and contractor management systems. The last thing New Zealand businesses need after a challenging couple of years is to overlook risk management or lapse on their health and safety compliance. It’s the crucial time to make sure all systems are optimised to protect businesses and their people,” McAfee said.
McAfee said that local organisations should look to trends coming out of countries like the US, UK and Australia in order to make improvements to their health and safety management. The trends are being applied across a range of industries, ranging from banks to schools, to hospitals and large corporations. The trends include the rise in smartphone technology, QR readers and Bluetooth technology in helping companies manage their health and safety requirements and comply with health and safety legislation. A large number of businesses are going contactless, reducing the number of physical touchpoints and maximising new technologies.
There is also a transition away from swipe and ID cards and a move towards Bluetooth technology and apps for sign-ins. Businesses are also facilitating real-time data and visibility; a central dashboard is critical to providing managers with real-time visibility of everyone onsite at any point in time. Bluetooth technology is being used in offices and onsite to ensure safety through mustering those onsite in times of emergency. Banks are also using Bluetooth beacons to give real-time visibility into the occupancy of office space so employees can see what spaces are available to choose from, and facilitate collaboration between co-workers, partners and guests. Bluetooth technology also helps to track visitors and set user-defined areas and access at education facilities such as universities. Alerts and notifications are activated if students enter areas they are not supposed to access.
Visitor, employee and contractor check-in can automate the attendance-taking process and be integrated with HR data. Integrated visitor management systems have also been introduced in hospitals and schools where contact tracing and onsite visitor management is crucial.
“These international trends set the standard for us here in New Zealand. Now is the time for organisations to mitigate risk and ensure they can offer the most efficient solutions for site access, inductions, permits and emergency features in the workplace. These are small measures which can have a big impact — they save lives, reputation and businesses,” McAfee said.
McAfee witnessed first-hand the challenges of health and safety management in the aftermath of the 2011 Christchurch earthquake. With businesses facing specific challenges around contractor governance, and health and safety, McAfee knew there must be a more efficient way. As a result, McAfee took the problem in his own hands and founded HealthSafe in 2015. “Working for a large retail company in Christchurch at that time, there were gaps in identifying who was onsite at the time of the quake. It quickly became obvious that without any real-time data or records, many businesses affected by the earthquake were struggling to identify staff, visitors and contractors onsite during the quake,” McAfee said.
McAfee is driven to provide software solutions for employee, visitor and contractor management, an integrated risk management system and people onboarding processes to help organisations simplify their health and safety processes and keep their employees safe.
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