Tag: Modern Safety

The most-read Modern Safety blog posts of the year

What a ride. This was a year of change for all of us here at Field ID and Modern Safety. Looking back, it’s hard to believe how much we’ve accomplished and all that our team has been through together in the last 12 months. And reading over our most popular blog posts is a humbling yet rewarding experience for us, so we just had to pull a list and close out the year with a bit of a Modern Safety review.

If you take a glance at last year’s most-read Modern Safety blog posts, you’ll notice this year we’ve tried to keep a steady stream of helpful blog posts and how to’s mixed in with interesting news from the safety and technology spaces. We have always heard many questions from safety professionals who need simple advice on things like devices, safety best practices and other challenges that come with effective safety management. In 2013, we truly wanted to step up and provide some answers through Modern Safety. From the list below, it seems this approach was appreciated… or at least well-read. Read More

The Year in Modern Safety

What a year. If we could express what 2012 meant to our team as simply as possible, that would be the phrase.

We had an amazing year here at Field ID and Modern Safety. We launched Field ID apps for the most popular iOS and Android devices, celebrated the opportunity to help many new users and organizations simplify safety and compliance processes, and generally had a great time working on a number of new projects. And our whole team was honoured to see our co-founders, Somen Mondal and Shaun Ricci, earn recognition as winners of the Ontario Ernst & Young Entrepreneur Of The Year award in the “emerging entrepreneur” category.

If you follow our Facebook page or Twitter feed, you probably know we like to make a year memorable outside of business hours with team events like baseball games, ping pong tournaments, and special events as simple as getting together after work for dinner and drinks. In the office or out, 2012 has been a year to remember.

So before the New Year begins, we’re looking back at some highlights from this one… Read More

Modern Safety: An amazing year in review

It’s been a great year in the safety management and inspection software field, and we’re looking forward to what 2012 has in store. At Field ID and Modern Safety, we’ve had a lot to celebrate in the past 12 months, and we’re extremely excited about what we’re planning for the next 12 (stay tuned). But none of it would be possible without Field ID users, readers and friends.

At the end of the year, we like to take a moment to review and share some highlights. We’ve made several Field ID announcements in 2011, and we’ve also contributed articles and interviews to many industry publications. Today, we’re reviewing some of the most-read posts at Modern Safety. Granted, some of these posts have been around longer than others and have gathered more views over time, but it’s fun to consider which posts people found most interesting.

Here are the Top 15 most-read Modern Safety posts from 2011:

  1. New OSHA enforcement guidance for personal protective equipment in general industry
  2. Robocop and the future of safety compliance
  3. Motorola ES400 review
  4. Ladder safety: Going above and beyond OSHA regulations
  5. New Feature: Inspector / customer sign-off
  6. A new breed of rugged mobile handhelds?
  7. New Field ID feature: Mobile upload/download
  8. RFID tags for all your safety inspection needs
  9. NFC (RFID) used for check-ins via posters – future of safety check-ins?
  10. Safety compliance, inspections and the iPad 2
  11. Staying safe at the top of the CN Tower
  12. Elevator safety and inspection – public or private
  13. Blackberry Playbook device preview: Future field service device?
  14. Identification is the first step in safety – QR codes coming to NYC building permits
  15. Safety managers: The responsibilities of leaders

The most read posts, however, don’t tell the full story about what readers found most interesting at Modern Safety. It turns out that many of our readers like to browse posts that are ‘tagged’ by subject. Based on the words tagging each post, it seems the following subjects were most popular or useful to Modern Safety readers.

Here are the Top 15 Topics on Modern Safety in 2011:

  1. Fall protection
  2. Scaffolding safety
  3. Rugged handhelds
  4. Lockout/Tagout and Lockout/Tagout Safety
  5. iPad
  6. iPhone
  7. Confined Space
  8. PDA inspections
  9. RFID
  10. Forklift safety
  11. Safety inspections
  12. Android
  13. Amusement park safety
  14. Traceability
  15. Software as a Service (SAAS)

From the team at Field ID, thank you for joining us at the Modern Safety blog in 2011, and have a safe and Happy New Year!


Ontario to Conduct Mine Safety Inspection Blitz

The Government of Ontario will be targeting mine ventilation hazards with a safety inspection blitz in the months of October and November.  You can read the official announcement made this week on the Ontario Ministry of Labour website here.  This Initiative is all part of a strategy that Ontario launched back in 2008 called “Safe at Work Ontario”.

These safety blitz’s are very important to workplace safety.  From 2005 to 2009 there were 176 work deaths related to respiratory illnesses in the mining industry.  Clearly the Government of Ontario put the Safe at Work Ontario program in place to help get this number down to zero.

What are They Looking For?

(Taken directly from the Ontario website)
Inspectors will target underground mines that use diesel equipment. This includes:
  • – Mines with large fleets of diesel equipment operating in the underground environment
  • – Recently reopened or new mines operating diesel equipment
  • – Mines where previous ventilation concerns were observed, and
  • – Mines with a poor health and safety compliance history.
Inspectors will check on two types of equipment:
  • – Ventilation systems used to deliver fresh air to underground mines, and
  • – Diesel equipment used for underground transportation of workers and materials and blasting of rock.

Preparing for a Blitz

Organizations can prepare for a blitz by implementing modern safety techniques and performing their own inspections on a regular basis before OSHA or the Ministry of Labour comes on site.  It is easy to draw comparisons to accounting practices and preparing for an accounting audit by the government.  Knowing that there may be an audit at any time forces organizations to have their financial information in tip top shape at all times.  Safety data should be treated in the exact same way.  The current blitz focuses on ventilation systems for mines that run a lot of diesel equipment.  Having monthly safety inspections done internally with a dashboard that rolls up to the CEO or Director of Safety showing missed inspections for instance can make the preparation for an external audit a breeze.

Our Safety News and How to Automate it

This may come as a shock to our readers, but I am not a journalist by nature.  I didn’t grow up dreaming of becoming a writer.  So, although I really enjoy blogging, I do get writers block from time to time.  To help inspire me when I write a blog I try to keep plugged in to news by automating how I get it.  Reading safety magazines that come once a month just don’t do it for me.  Through both reading blogs and Google Alerts, I can get safety news on my own terms.  These blogs and news alerts are good for all types of news and for me, revolve around basically three things I am passionate about:

  • – Software start-ups and software sales
  • – Mobile anything
  • – Safety

To get inspired I will often skim the safety news and find something that I have an opinion about, and feel I can contribute to.  Today when I went through this process what stuck out to me that had not stuck out in the past is this:  There is a LOT of OSHA activity happening and being written about.  I thought I would share how I get this news.

Some Technology I Use

When you get used to consuming news real time, newspapers and magazines really start to seem outdated.  To keep tabs on safety compliance and OSHA news I primarily use:

  • Google alerts
  • – RSS feeds of my favorite blogs
  • – Twitter

A lot of Small Fines/Infractions

When not consuming news on a daily basis, you miss stuff.  One thing that is easily missed is all of the little OSHA fines and infractions that happen all the time.  When there is a big workplace disaster, everyone hears about it.  The recent BP oil spill and Chile mining incidents are two examples of workplace safety news that goes mainstream.  A lot of other safety news that does not bubble up to front page news (whether negative or positive) is available.  When taking a look at my Google Alerts for OSHA on  March 25th, 2011, I had 25 Google News Alerts.  Only a couple of those were repeats ( same story reported twice).  Many of those stories were about OSHA fines ( I suspect because they are public information).  Some example headlines include “Judge upholds $7K OSHA fine against Wal-Mart in 2008 death of NY worker” and “US Department of Labor’s OSHA cites US Postal Service”.  These are just a few examples of safety news that I would have surely missed if I did not automate how I consume information I am interested in.

Keeping on top of all of this news can be challenging.  Safety compliance itself is challenging.  We can always benefit from automating these tasks.  Whether that automation is how we digest safety news and learn or automating safety inspections, automation can be a big help.

Why You Need to Take Safety Compliance into Your Own Hands

If it were up to me (aka. If I had some sort of divine power), I would make it so that no one ever made a mistake when operating heavy machinery. If I was Mother Nature, I would make sure that everyone had this surprisingly perfect knowledge of how to operate powerful machinery. OK, maybe not perfect, but at very least everyone would know how to avoid hurting people.

Unfortunately, this is impossible. Why am I all of a sudden so altruistic? I’m not. I witnessed my first car accident this week. To answer some basic questions, no, no one was hurt. No I was not behind the wheel, and no I was not the one who was hit. But I could have been.

The situation: I was crossing the street on a rainy Monday, saw the walking light turn green and started to cross the street when the person standing beside me stopped me. For a split second, my thoughts went “Oh my goodness, this crazy person is holding me back. I’m going to be late for work and probably robbed.” But no. The moment he stopped me, a car made a right turn, while its driver was looking left and BOOM, it hits the girl who was crossing the street in front of me. If I had crossed the street, it would have been me.

There are actually two direct causes to why this accident happened. The obvious reason is the driver. She was careless to not look both ways.  The more complicated cause would be the fact that the rules of the road are not perfect. While a driver is making a right turn, they tend to keep an eye on incoming traffic, rather than what’s in front of them. This is a perfect example of why you should be taking safety into your own hands: the rules don’t always cover every possible hazardous situation.

In every industry, there are safety rules and regulations. Sometimes, it is simply a set of inspections that must be done periodically. While these rules may seem enough to be compliant, how you go about following them is your choice. Performing inspections when necessary is the most basic step of being safety compliant. However, these rules have not been perfected.

How you perform your inspections, maintain records, or keep track of your equipment can not only help you be compliant, but also take safety compliance to the next level. It can help you perfect the system for everyone involved. You can help prevent accidents and ensure safety, even if the regulations don’t cover it all.  Paper based safety inspections, is the token example of something that just works and keeps you compliant, but can also allow hazardous situations to fall through the cracks of an imperfect system.

Using a digitized system to perform your inspections and maintain your records is the first step of taking safety compliance to the next level. Not only does it keep you compliant, but it also keeps all you ahead of the game. Having a digital system prevents the loss of data, therefore allowing you to have the most up-to-date inspection records without losing records in an endless road of filing cabinets. Unfortunately, rules and regulations don’t cover this possibility, but will still hold you responsible for any accidents caused by a loss of records. So why take the risk?

Performing your inspections digitally also allows you to complete inspections in a timely fashion. This way, your customers can continue with their daily duties and you can avoid overspending your man-power with a paper-and-pen system. By saving them time, your inspectors can be more accurate during an inspection and avoid a mistake due to a time limit.

With digital methods, you can take safety compliance into your own hands, and ensure that your customer, your inspectors and your company can all rest assured. Even though the rules and regulations may not cover all possible situations, you can sleep calmly at night knowing you have taken the safety inspection system one step further and stayed ahead of the game.

Safety Ethics: How to Refuse Unsafe Work

Safety Compliance
Refuse Unsafe Work

Safety is the most important part of making it through your work day. If you’re in a work environment of physical labour, or where your life could easily be risked, odds are you have felt uncomfortable on more than one occasion. Whether it was that crane teetering a little too freely above your head, or spotting a co-worker skipping out on essential steps of safety compliance just to cut corners; the majority of these people could have avoided these situations by following a few steps, brought to you by the Ontario Occupational Health and Safety Act.

The first rule of workplace safety that you should always remember is: You can legally refuse to work in an unsafe environment. Safety compliance is the responsibility of every boss. If your boss is asking you to perform an unsafe task or work in an unsafe environment, you can refuse by saying you are exercising your right under the Occupational Health and Safety Act and you refuse to perform the unsafe task. At this point, your employer is not allowed to order you to complete the unsafe task nor discipline you for not completing it. You do not have to complete the task until the safety matter has been dealt with.

The following is a flow chart of how most safety compliance issues normally work. The process wastes a lot of valuable time and engages a third party which is even more time-consuming. Avoiding this process altogether is the best solution, obviously. Staying compliant with safety standards would eliminate any risk at your workplace, and workers can avoid the uncomfortable situations of refusing work from their employers.

The work refusal process
courtesy www.worksmartontario.gov.on.ca

Using modern safety compliance tools is the most current way that companies are staying safe. As an employer, an employee, and inspector or distributor, it is your responsibility to ensure safety at the workplace by making sure you stay up-to-date with modern safety advances.

For more information, visit Field ID and see what we have in store for you.

4 Great Online Safety Compliance Resources

Here at Field ID, we try to make our blog and website a great source of not only product information, but also safety information overall.  We offer views and opinions on safety inspections, safety compliance and safety in general.  To provide this information, I am constantly scouring the web to educate myself and stay up-to-date on the latest in safety trends and news.  I wanted to share 4 places on the Internet that I use to learn about safety news (besides our own blog of course!).  One comment I can make about all the sites below, is that they have all done an amazing job of adopting social media, a sure sign of modern safety!

National Safety Council

Or better known as the NSC, the national safety council is a US-based organization that focuses on safety awareness from workplace safety to safety-at-home (full disclosure, Field ID is a member).  The website has a wealth of safety information from videos to white papers.

The American Society of Safety Engineers

Follow them on Twitter or become a fan of the ASSE Facebook page! If you are a safety professional, the ASSE is a professional development powerhouse.  The ASSE website is the public face of an organization that develops standards and allows safety professionals to earn credits for courses taken through the organization.  Being Canadian, I should also note we have a similar active organization called the Canadian Society of Safety Engineers.

Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety

I will let you in on a little secret, when I was in my 2nd year of computer science I worked on the CCOHS website during a summer break.  I had no idea back then that I would end up so involved in safety and co-found a software company that created a product for safety inspections.  That being said, I can confirm that the CCOSH certainly is a hard working group of people committed to safety everyday.  They offer the site in French and also have an amazing safety Q & A section called OSH Answers.  Although focused on Canada, the information found through OSH Answers applies to much of North America.

Occupational Safety and Health Administration

I can’t tell you how many times I have typed in the name of a piece of equipment followed by OSHA into a search engine to get information on the compliance requirements for that equipment.  OSHA is the regulatory body in the United States that oversees workplace safety laws and enforcement.  From inspections, to audits, to fines and awareness, OSHA covers it all.  Their website is a wealth of news and information for everything related to safety, and specifically safety compliance.

A Backwards Look at Paperless Solutions for Modern Safety

So we’ve all seen shows like Twilight Zone, X-Files, Fringe, and all those other crazy sci-fi shows making fictional claims about alternate universes. This week, I’d like to take part in that fictional claim and discuss the possibility, that maybe, somewhere out there, is a world where paperless solutions never happened, for modern safety, or any other industry. Or at least imagine it. Take a trip down imaginary lane.

A World without Paperless Solutions

What exactly would the world be like without a paperless solution for documentation. Before we go into modern safety specifics, let’s think about what the general world would be like. The rather obvious problem, would be a loss of data. If the world moved backwards on paperless solutions, simple tasks like applying for a credit card, would be a snail mail paper trail between you and the bank. By the end of it all, you would have stacks of information piled up on paper. The internet would be non-existent. The world would revert back to paper letters that took weeks to get from one place to another. So as far as I can tell, basically this alternate universe would be one big mess. But family letters and credit card applications are a rather small matter. What does lack of paperless solutions mean for modern safety?

What does Lack of Paperless Solutions mean for Modern Safety?

It’s actually rather simple. Without a paperless solution, the modern safety world would cease to exist. Imagine a single piece of equipment, inspected annually. Ok, not a big deal, an annual inspection generally means that if a piece of equipment has been in service for 5 years, then there would only be 5 documents on them. They can’t be too hard to find, right? Ok, I’ll give you that, if it was one piece of equipment, yes it would be quite easy to track. But honestly, who uses only one piece of equipment. Safety Inspection companies have thousands of assets, if every piece of equipment has been in service for 5 years: worse case scenario, you have to sort through 4999 documents to find the right one. Best case scenario, it’s on the top of the pile: Consider yourself the luckiest person in the world, if its the best case scenario.

Ok, let’s say you have an amazing organizational system. It’s all in one room, filed alphabetically and sorted by product type and inspection type, making it perfectly easy to find. How about in 10 years when the amount of assets have doubled? What if there’s a fire? a flood? Or a crazy cat gets in the room? It’s all gone, you have no backup, no way of knowing if the equipment you’re using to guarantee your safety, has actually been inspected or is it just broken and actually waiting to be repaired. Wouldn’t it be great if in this alternate universe, all the data was digital, under secure digital lock and key, and thousands of miles away from the crazy cat that broke into the filing cabinet?

Many People Say…

Many of our inquirers say that their paper-based system is working perfectly fine for them. Paper is working out great and they’ve used it for a long time with no problems. That maybe true but to employ the people and spend the time in organizing and updating the paper-based system, is disastrous, time-consuming, and a waste of money. If you also add in the possibility of losing all the data and being liable for this loss, it becomes impossible to conclude that a paper-based system is best.

If you ask me, the alternate universe I’ve just painted a picture of, sounds ridiculously backwards and unrealistic. It makes me glad that our universe has progressed the way it has. If this alternate universe exists, I wouldn’t want to be a part of it. Do you?

A Lesson from Iceland – How to Eliminate Safety Guesswork with Inspection Software

I was recently in Iceland for a quick 3 day trip.  Iceland truly is unique and is filled with friendly people, good food, and a lot of natural wonders.  There are two things that really stood out when it came to Iceland.

  1. The Sun:  the sun just never goes down at this time of year.  It’s a completely unusual to me to be out at 1AM in the morning and there be sunshine outside.
  2. Safety Standards:  Of course, I have to tie this back to safety.  Although, I wasn’t actively looking for safety related pictures, I couldn’t help snap these pictures:

Basically, this wouldn’t (or at least shouldn’t) happen in North America.  I am definitely not used to seeing something like this.  I am always used to seeing someone securely fastened and wearing a fall-protection harness.  This had me thinking: Iceland obviously has different safety standards than North America.  If I were dropped into an Icelandic job site, how would I properly manage safety?  How would I know what is required to ensure compliance?  How would I know how to inspect, say for example, a harness?

The Problem: The Guesswork with Safety Standards

This type of guesswork is what people face everyday.  People are dropped into a job site and told they need to inspect a piece of equipment with little or no proper knowledge of how to do it.  Even if they were trained, the inspection process is complicated and riddled with complications that make the process confusing.  The safety inspection process is not easy.  People face multiple jurisdictions that face different safety standards.  There are differences in safety processes between different cities of the same country.  Owning and operating a crane in the California is different than owning and operating a crane in New York.

All of the different standards in how to inspect a piece of equipment make the entire process cryptic and difficult.  It brings a great deal of guesswork into the process.

Eliminate Safety Guesswork: Digitize your Safety Inspection Process

The first step in managing safety over multiple jurisdictions is to remove the guesswork in doing an inspection.  The problem with multiple safety jurisdictions is that people doing inspections need to know, in the simplest way possible, how to actually do that inspection.  When someone doesn’t know if the inspection being conducted meets the required safety requirements you risk being incompliant, and worse, having an unsafe work environment.

Think of digitizing your safety standards as providing your inspection team with an inspection wizard.  A tool that walks you through the steps of doing an inspection so they don’t have to worry about what standards they are following. They just have to worry about following each of the carefully laid out steps.

Whether you are a multi-national organization or a company that has a single job site, taking the guesswork out of the compliance process increases safety and decreases risk.  You are giving your safety team the assurance that they are performing the inspection correctly within their jurisdiction.  Modern Safety is all about eliminating safety guesswork, digitizing the process with technology is a great way to do it.