Today, I counted 20 years as an EH&S professional and looking back over these years I have to admit, without a doubt, that technology has transformed the way we approach EH&S.
Everything now has an e in front of what it used to be. We have SDS e-Binder, we have e-Manifest, we have everything electronically stored and accessed whenever and from anywhere we want. Mobility has transformed to the better our ability to do with ease everyday tasks.
Where does EH&S fit into this? For me, access to SDS and GHS information on the fly improves safety. Being able to track my containers and perform actions such as updating container locations and quantities in real-time, and even reconcile my inventory in the lab or anywhere on the go makes my workday efficient and more productive. Collecting, storing and disposing of lab packs and waste drums, doing inspections and audits from the palm of my hand makes me feel in full control of my schedule and priorities.
I have come to the conclusion that mobility, or more precisely Mobile Applications and EH&S, work very well together. The benefits far outweigh any costs. Do we need to consider what stands true for must-have features of an EH&S mobile application? Indeed we do. For starters, there are a lot of different mobile operating system platforms for mobile devices – Android, iOS, Windows 10- and a mobile application needs to support all of these platforms. Since different people in the same organization coud use different types of devices, we need to be able to freely choose any of these platforms and get the same experience and results.
Another must-have is simplicity. I am in the field doing important work and I need to have a simple, intuitive tool in my hands. I just need the most common tasks and features available to me, nothing more and nothing less. What is very important, at least to me, but I am sure that all agree, is to not lose my work progress simply because my mobile device is out of network (Wi-Fi / GSM) coverage.
Last but not least, being able to use my smartphone and tablet to read barcodes. Barcodes you say? Yes, traditional barcodes or QR codes are your best friend in tandem with your mobile device since the camera of the device can be used to read the barcode and cross-reference it to other information. In a “barcoded” environment, the sheer speed of executing tasks with your mobile device is really breathtaking. Accuracy increases dramatically as well.
I know that the majority of EH&S professionals can relate to most, if not all, of the above.
What do you think? Are all these relevant to you also? Let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org