What Should I Look For in a Safety Management System | EcoOnline US

What Should I Look For in a Safety Management System

Written by Ryan LeClaire

Published August 15, 2023

When most organizations begin looking for a safety management system, they are often looking for something that will help them achieve industry compliance to a certain standard, like ISO 45001.  
That’s a great goal, but we would like to invite you to think even bigger.

Ask yourself, “What is the tool that will help us build the right type of EHS culture from top to bottom AND maintain that culture indefinitely? 

This is an important mindset to have because your safety management system is not something that you simply use once a year in the weeks leading up to an inspection. It needs to be something that can be woven into your everyday culture and relied on to make future high-level decisions. 

With that in mind, here are a few of the must-haves for your safety management system or occupational health management system. 


Front-line Mobile Friendliness 

For any EHS system to be truly effective, it doesn’t just need some mobile capability. It needs mobile-friendliness so that it’s embraced by your front-line users. 

These are the people that will be using the system to do things like:  

  • Flag hazards 
  • Carry out inspections 
  • Report incidents 
  • Identify opportunities 

This means your mobile app needs to be incredibly simple to use so that your frontline users can carry out safety activities in a few quick taps. 

It’s incredibly hard to earn employee buy-in for a solution if that solution is perceived as more work or a cumbersome extra step. Everything needs to be simple and intuitive. Something as simple as having to sign in every time they want to do anything can be seen as an extra step. 

On the other hand, if you give them a Single Sign On (SSO) solution that can replace bothersome clipboards, tickets and other pieces of paper, or spreadsheets, your team will embrace the solution right away. 

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Safe and Simple Document Storing/ Sharing 

Documentation is crucial to maintaining your OHS culture and ISO compliance. But what does that really mean?  

  • Employee training and certification documents need to be centrally available and up-to-date 
  • Policies and procedures need to be available to everyone, without any version control issues 
  • Equipment and machinery manuals, permits, and maintenance records need to live in an accessible central hub 
  • High-level data reports need to be available for stakeholders and other interested parties 

It’s also important that all of this exists behind a secure network to protect privacy and confidentiality. 

You should never have to scramble to find documentation for an inspection. Everything you need should be readily accessible and up-to-date at all times. 

woman in a yellow construction hat wearing a checkered shirt and a toolbelt, looking at an iPad in a manufacturing facility

Realtime Data and Actionable Insights  

Stale and missing data can be one of the biggest problems with a paper or spreadsheet-based safety management system. 

Simply put, it’s hard for an organization's stakeholders and decision-makers to know the exact state of their EHS efforts if there is a stack of tickets and inspections on a supervisor’s desk that have yet to be processed. Or if the crucial data lives inside of a series of spreadsheets that only one or two employees truly understand. 

When you digitize and modernize your safety management system or occupational health management system, you’re getting rid of all that paperweight. Your data will be propagated from the front-line users to their supervisors, to your management team in real-time. And this information should be viewable in simple and easy-to-read dashboards so that your EHS team can see the exact state of your EHS culture at all times. 

This real-time data means that your EHS team can spot trends as they’re happening, and minor issues can be resolved before they become major problems. At the same time, your EHS team should be able to easily convert the data from these dashboards into insightful presentations for the upper management team or C-suite. They can generate reports that help tell the story behind the numbers and help you make informed recommendations about where the opportunities to improve could lie. 

A Safety Management System Built By EHS Leaders For EHS Teams 

Some EHS teams may be tempted to use something that is pretty close or close enough to what they need. They may opt for something like Microsoft SharePoint for their safety management system. Trust us when we say this will be more problematic than you may realize. 

Abraham Maslow once said, “If the only tool you have is a hammer, you tend to see every problem as a nail.” If your company is using SharePoint to manage things like your IT infrastructure or human resources, it’s very easy to say, “We’re using SharePoint with our document workflow process. It’s worked well. We’ve already spent X thousand dollars, and another few hundred thousand dollars customizing it…Why can’t we just use it for everything we do?” 

When it comes to EHS, you could get something like SharePoint to work. But you will be the one doing all the work. 

You need something that was purpose-built with the EHS in mind. You don’t want to spend weeks or months customizing something to work for your needs. You want something designed with your exact needs in mind. 

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Author Ryan LeClaire

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