Carleton University has launched a new online tool for reporting and tracking hazards and injuries across campus, more intricately linking health and safety initiatives with facility management.
A few years ago, Environmental Health and Safety (EHS), a core department within Facilities Management and Planning, undertook a benchmarking exercise and found an increasing need for good data to help identify trends and support management decisions related to prevention.
What materialized was CU WorkSafe, a customized health and safety software system that integrates data from human resources, the security department and two facility systems: space management and Maximo. It opens up communication between faculty, students, staff, human resources and visitors, in turn improving risk reduction strategies.
“Tying this health and safety change initiative into our facility’s structure reinforces how critical the facility role is to health and safety,” says Nancy Delcellier, director of the EHS department. “Staff has access to the data so it relates directly to what they do on a day-to-day basis.”
A Good Catch
In hindsight, it’s easier to see the red flags leading up to an incident. Allowing for more dynamic intervention through this kind of system, one that promotes information exchange among everyone on campus, is one way EHS says it can adapt to its ever-changing environment.
From potential slip, trip and fall hazards resulting from uneven ground, clutter (poor housekeeping) and icy surfaces to fire hazards, like blocked exit passages, missing signage and unsafe extension cords, reported near-misses are immediately stored in a large database for in-depth analysis. EHS is then able to find a solution to reduce future injuries.
Laboratories are also unique environments with hazards, like spills and strange odours, which could lead to potential exposure. Anyone who witnesses these hazards can report them using their single sign on credentials, while third party facility service providers can access a guest portal to alert EHS.
The system, produced by Cority (formally Medgate) incorporates almost 40,000 users who can instantly report and attach photos to help EHS locate the danger. A built-in notification system advises managers and supervisors that a injury or hazard requires their attention.
“Part of the system’s strengths is it has tremendous data capabilities to generate reports and pull metrics and trends,” says Delcellier. “Before the program, a student or staff member experiencing a near miss would complete a printed-out form.”
Online forms followed, but were difficult to analyze and connect all the data. This new system links all the data, helping to pinpoint areas needing the most attention. For example, if five reports identify slippery areas on a particular part of campus, EHS can better understand what service providers need to focus on right away.
With the good catch, accident and injury component of CU WorkSafe underway, an inspection and audit module will be launching soon. It is perhaps the most beneficial to facilities’ operations, according to Delcellier, and will link any deficiencies directly to the FMP facilities work order system. This includes everything from joint health and safety inspections to annual certification of fume hoods.
“There are always challenges when introducing any change initiative; however, the opportunity to bring so many players together to focus on health and safety has had a tremendous ripple effect across the organization,” Delcellier adds. “Various stakeholders are becoming more attuned to the needs of various departments.”
She is also finding that some supervisors hadn’t been fully aware of their responsibilities under legislation to investigate an incident, resolve it or propose solutions.
“Because the software is based on workflows and directs you through the process, we’re finding supervisors are gaining knowledge they may not have fully understood, so health and safety awareness is growing across the campus,” she says. “For facilities that may not be as integrated as ours, I think the solution will have a profound change on them.”