Workforce compliance management is one of the most important and, sadly, the most under-resourced business functions in many Australian businesses. If you're still relying on spreadsheets and a filing cabinet, read on.
The following is a fictionalised recount of an Australian workplace injury,
It was not until a new casual warehouse staffer was injured by a forklift that Melissa, QHSE Manager at a 150-person Australian manufacturing business, seriously considered improving her workforce compliance management systems.
17-year old Tom, the injured worker, was working his eighth shift when he walked out from behind a large stack of pallets and was struck in the leg by a gas-powered forklift truck. The tyne punctured his leg and broke the bone just above his left ankle.
Wayne, the Operator of the forklift truck, was in a rush to finish loading the truck in the loading bay, as there was a line-up of trucks in waiting. Wayne, a highly experienced and usually very cautious Operator, was traveling too fast and did not see Tom until too late.
Tom had signed the Employee Handbook, been shown around the site by the Warehouse Manager and he knew there were forklifts operating on-premise, but this was the effective extent of his training. Wayne's Forklift License had expired 4 days before the incident, and would have been picked up by Melissa during her bi-monthly qualification audit at the end of the week.
Tom spent hours in surgery and months in recovery. SafeWork inspectors found the business, Melissa, the Warehouse Manager, and Wayne to be responsible parties and therefore liable for fines and possible prosecution.
The shortfalls of traditional compliance management systems
When Melissa was promoted to QHSE Manager, she inherited a system created by her predecessor to manage expiring qualifications, inductions, etc. It was a combination of spreadsheets, signed paper records in 2 large filing cabinets, and some scanned copies of documentation stored in an employee folder on the company intranet.
Whenever a new employee starts, Melissa ensures the person signs the Employee Handbook and provides evidence of licenses and certificates, which she uploads into their employee folder, being sure to follow file naming conventions (Name, Qualification, Expiry Date). She then manually adds the Name, Qualification and Expiry Dates to her spreadsheets. Twice a month, she checks her spreadsheet for qualifications that expired during the last fortnight and books in training accordingly.
As diligent as Melissa is, there are faults in her current system that are gaps in her workforce compliance. In the rare occasion of a workplace injury like Tom's, this system may not just be insufficient, but partially responsible for the accident. In short, these faults can be boiled down to the following:
- The spreadsheets must be checked manually and expiring dates falling between checks can be missed.
- Double data entry (intranet and then spreadsheet) in a frustrating, manual task.
- If Melissa mis-types an expiry date, only she can find and replace the error. If she saves an errant version and saves to the intranet, the system falls apart.
- Only Melissa understands this workflow and this can be a problem if she is on Leave or resigns.
- If the local network is corrupted, the files can be lost.
- Generating compliance reports for the Operations Manager is a manual, time-consuming task. Depending on the frequency of reporting, this task can become inefficient.
How Compliance Fox can help
Following Tom's injury, Melissa was alerted to the faults in her system and decided to seek a new software system to manage this task. She recognised she needs a system that:
- Saves her time via automating the checking process.
- Generates real-time reports, accessible by permitted people at any time.
- Eliminates double data entry and securely stores the records on the cloud.
- Distributes the burden of sourcing worker compliance records, but allows her to maintain quality and control over the process.
Ideally, the system would also integrate with their payroll software and work on mobile devices.
Hey, what do you know? She stumbled across Compliance Fox!
Stories like Melissa's are exactly why we created Compliance Fox. We love helping protect workforces and managers from injury, penalties, and lost productivity with our software, which centralises, simplifies and automates workforce compliance management.
Want to learn more about our software? Take our Product Tour here.