EHS Software: Complete Buyer’s Guide For 2021

Jonathan Stolk

From FMCG to aviation, EHS software is popular with many organizations and for a good number of reasons. If you want to find out what it is and how it saves you time as well as helps to bolster your workplace safety, keep reading. 

In this article, you will discover what this type of software does for your business and how it works. We’ll also list the top considerations when deciding which EHS solution package is the best fit for your organization. Among these and many other topics, we will also talk about the cost to the business and any potential issues you may face while using one of these platforms. 

What is EHS Software? 

To give it its full title, Environmental Health and Safety software (EHS software for short) provides a centralized place for your company’s safety program management. Using a single application, you can keep track of and prove your government regulatory compliance, manage important health and safety data, and realize continuous improvement.

These platforms connect your workforce by providing a single space in which to store essential documents, key EHS performance metrics, information on tasks, and more. All of this makes it much easier to keep track of corrective actions and how well the measures and systems you have in place are working. 

What Does EHS Software Do? 

EHS software acts as a central hub that stores health and safety data, manages tasks, and gives you real-time visibility on safety, regulation, and compliance. The software collates the data and presents it visually to keep you up-to-date with the important metrics you need to know about on-site safety. 

Anyone with access to the platform can upload data at any time, and it is saved in the cloud in the relevant area of the app. This information could relate to safety incidents, near misses,  behavioral safety, workplace hazards, or any other area of health and safety.

An EHS software platform also automates your workflows, notifying the relevant employees when they have a task due. They can, for example, send an alert when tasks remain incomplete or metrics reach a certain threshold, prompting action from the relevant parties. 

EHS Platforms Help You Keep Track of Compliance

Safety leaders typically analyze and monitor the rules and regulations to assess which standards apply to the business specifically. Then, they work with management to create a set of procedures and protocols for the organization that will ensure the safety of all staff and compliance with the requirements. The result is a company manual that all workers should read, digest, and adhere to. 

But we live in a world where people rarely have the time and patience to read a safety manual. And, what is worse, rules and regulations change so often that it’s almost too much overhead to keep a printed manual up to date. This is where an EHS solution plays a key role. With it, you can make your safety manual dynamic. Whether it’s a Marine Safety Management System or a Construction Site Safety Manual, employees can access it in the cloud and you do not need to print multiple copies to share around. 

The software also comes into action for implementing your safety policy. You can schedule training and track workers’ progress through such a platform. In addition, it is also the place to log your standard operating procedures (SOPs) that will help bring your policy into reality. 

Finally, there is data, insights, and complete visibility on your safety performance. So, when the moment comes to report to government officials and prove compliance, you can compile the data from the software and display relevant details and statistics. 

What Are the Benefits of EHS Software?

Using EHS software brings a number of benefits, especially for first-time users. The most important reasons to adopt this type of solution are: 

  • Paperless processes — You don’t have to walk around with printed checklists that office workers have to copy manually to digital files. Bad handwriting and lost forms stop being an issue.
  • Centralization — You can store everything you need for safety management in one place. This saves time, simplifies your tasks, and helps ensure no one misses any crucial opportunities to diminish risk. You don’t lose vital information when an employee leaves the business, because everything is logged on the software. 
  • Worker Engagement — Involving employees in the processes and having them update the software with their data shows them you are committed to safety in the workplace. This can improve morale and productivity as a result. It also keeps safety at the forefront of their thinking, leading to a safer working environment. 
  • Save Money — By investing in safety, you can save your business money. For example, one of our customers at Capptions, Ardagh Group, cut the time to conduct audits by four, directly reducing labor costs and allowing the safety team to spend their time more efficiently.
  • Make Auditing Easy — By automating your regulatory compliance, you don’t need to spend a frantic few weeks trying to draw together all the relevant information in time for an audit. 
  • Real-Time Monitoring — Because your dashboard constantly updates to give you the latest information, you know as soon as an issue arises. With traditional monthly or quarterly reporting, you might not realize until you run the data. This software keeps you on top of your risk profile and allows you to remedy problems before they lead to an incident. Automated notifications and alerts allow you to respond straight away. 
  • Simplify Reporting — Rather than having to spend time collating reports from numerous sources, your EHS system creates them on your behalf from the information uploaded. 

Uses of EHS Software

Now that you know what EHS software is and how it can save you money, let’s see what you can do with it. Here are the most common use cases:

  • Audits

The software records all the information you need to prepare for audits. It is easy to find the validity of your certification, your response to incidents, your policies. The software centralizes all the important information and standardizes your reporting. 

  • Complaints management

You have one central place to track and manage customer complaints, as well as to create follow-ups that ensure you deal with issues quickly and effectively. 

  • Corporate policy management

This keeps your corporate policy easily accessible by all workers. There is no excuse for anyone not knowing the correct safety measures to take in certain situations.

  • Equipment checklists

You can easily keep track of the state of repair of equipment before and after each use. This ensures you do not risk using broken, faulty, and potentially dangerous tools in the course of the working day. 

  • Incident reporting

By quickly and accurately reporting incidents in the workplace, you can help to prevent them from happening again. The software logs the incident and helps you work through the process of investigating and rectifying the hazard. The fact that the EHS platform is often available on portable devices allows you to report the incident as soon as you witness it which helps a speedy response as well as being fresh in your mind when you recall the details. This means you can be more accurate. 

  • Last-minute risk assessments (LMRA)

Help to prevent accidents happening in the workplace by employees logging risk in the software just before they begin work. 

  • LOTO: Lock-out tag-out

You can make sure that all workers have access to the important information they need. This includes a full inventory of equipment that requires LOTO procedures to maintain, as well as the comprehensive process for each piece of relevant machinery. 

  • Manuals

Keep all documentation and manuals that you need for your business in one central location. 

  • Quality inspections

This feature uses the data you and your colleagues’ input to track your safety compliance. You can find one central location for the results of the inspections and the suggested actions to correct any issues. It also helps you keep track of your efforts to improve your systems.  

  • Risk assessments

Complies with ISO 14001’s obligations to create risk assessments. It also helps you work to mitigate risks before they cause workplace incidents. 

  • Safety checklists

Organizing safety procedures into checklists, which are accessible through the software, means that there is less chance of cutting corners and missing vital steps to ensure safety.  

  • Standard operating procedures

Helps you create, track, and tweak your processes to help keep the workplace safe and efficient. Having these procedures in the software, constantly available for reference, and kept up to date ensures everyone is aware of their responsibilities. 

  • Task risk assessments (TRA) and job safety assessments (JSA)

Each task or role comes with its own risks, and having these specific assessments available at all times helps prepare workers thoroughly for staying safe in the workplace.

  • Toolbox talks

You can keep a library of toolbox talks on the EHS solution that you can refer to ahead of the daily safety briefing. This means that you can prepare more easily to take on a specific relevant topic.

  • Walk around checklists for management

When management representatives head onto the site to observe the day-to-day processes, a checklist can help them easily tweak and adjust safety procedures based on what they see. 

  • Work permits

You should be able to access your work permits immediately if required and your EHS system keeps them safe and centralized. 

  • Workplace inspections

Keep track of the inspections that have taken place, as well as their recommendations and the progress of any follow-up tasks. 

  • COVID-19 protocols & checks

In order to have everyone follow the Covid-protocol, day-to-day checklists, should-I-stay-home-today  self-assessment must be managed and tracked from a central cock-pit.   

  • Workplace instructions

Make sure that everyone knows how to perform the task at hand in the safest and most effective way possible.

Does Your Business Need EHS Software? 

Many start-ups begin with Excel but move on to a professional application as they scale, due to the huge benefits it brings to safety management. If you are currently using Excel or something similar for safety management, it is worth considering stepping up to EHS software. 

Spreadsheet software might be great for accounting, but it cannot handle the complicated data analysis of specific Environmental Health and Safety software. It also compartmentalizes EHS management, which can be dangerous — viewing it as a whole instead allows you to gain a truer picture of where you are as a business. In addition, collaborating on a spreadsheet is difficult and can lead to many different versions of the same data set, skewing your results. EHS platform is designed for easy cloud-based collaboration on safety matters. 

If you are still wondering whether health and safety software is for you, ask yourself these questions:

  • Are you committed to lowering risks as a business?
  • Do you want to reduce the amount you are spending on legal costs and accident claims?
  • Would mobile reporting on-site help you take swift action to remedy risks?
  • Could you save significant time having all the metrics you need in one place?
  • Do you need easy collaboration between multiple co-workers on safety reporting?
  • Is it becoming difficult to manage deadlines and workflow? 
  • Do you spend too much time as a business producing reports?

If the answer to any of the above is ‘yes’, your business could benefit from EHS management software.


Explore Capptions EHS Software Risk-Free

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How Much Does EHS Software Cost? 

Trying to pinpoint a specific EHS software cost is impossible. Different systems suit different organizations and carry different price points. 

The program you opt for has to be a payoff between the features your business requires and the available budget you have for buying and licensing the system. When setting that budget, you should consider the savings that come with a powerful and comprehensive Health and Safety platform — from reduced legal costs and accident payouts to productivity increase and improved safety culture in the workplace.

The ROI of EHS Software

Using data from users to whom we provide Capptions EHS software, we have calculated a ROI of EHS systems to be 55%. This is based on a number of factors including the time you save inspecting and auditing your workplace using the software. It also takes into account the costs of the resources needed for manual record keeping. 

Even with an investment for tablets for the inspectors and training to use the system, the savings you make by centralizing your safety information and storing all your important safety data in the cloud is quite extraordinary. 

Having everything you need accessible anytime anywhere is convenient, secure, and much more cost-effective. It eliminates unnecessary journeys between destinations to deliver paper copies of reports and inspections. This also makes Health and Safety platforms a more environmentally friendly option, too.

Using such software vastly cuts the amount of time your workforce takes dealing with the admin of safety and increases their knowledge and understanding of your processes. This makes your workplace safer and more efficient at the same time. 

Then, there is the indirect ROI of an elevated safety culture. When staff believes management cares about their safety, they enjoy boosted morale. As the company culture improves, there is more buy-in to the safety messages too, as they begin to make more sense to workers. 

What Should You Look For in an EHS Software Solution?  

Every company has different requirements for an EHS management software solution, but there are certain key features that you should look for in order for it to complete the tasks you need it to. 

  • Document Management — Every document you need is stored in the cloud, ensuring that nothing is forgotten, lost, or outdated. There is a digital trail for all important documentation and everyone has the latest versions at hand at all times. 
  • Reporting & Dashboards — The software provides a visual representation of the data you need to know about. It can also run reports to show progress within minutes; something that would take you hours to do manually. 
  • Tasks and Workflow — When someone completes a task, the software immediately informs the relevant people about the next job in the flow. This ensures there are now snare-ups in the process and nothing is missed.
  • Alerts — If there is a missed task, an incident is reported or your data passes a critical threshold, the software alerts the relevant parties and they can remedy the situation immediately. 

In addition to these key requirements, you might also need the following:

  • Audit & Inspection — The software collates all the relevant data and evidence you need to comply with the EHS audit.
  • Incident Management — You can quickly file reports on incidents, including all the relevant information that you need to work out the causes and remedies. 
  • Industrial Hygiene — You can track hazardous inventory, create a sampling plan, ensure industrial hygiene training is up-to-date, and more with a software solution.  
  • Change Management — Ensure that staff is up to date with the latest requirements and workflow changes.
  • Compliance Management — Easily check to see that you are compliant with all relevant regulations for your sector.  
  • Chemical Management — The software allows you to keep an up-to-date list of inventory, as well as stay current with new regulations and labeling concerns.  
  • Corrective Action — Generate action plans for incidents that are easily accessible for all staff. 
  • Training Management — Ensure that everyone has undertaken the training they need to comply with the law and set alerts when refresher courses are due.
  • Performance Metrics — Quantify the success of your EHS policies with measurable reporting. 
  • Risk Management — Uncover and nullify risks in the workplace by monitoring the data updated consistently in the app.  
  • Ergonomics — Online training, monitoring, and assessment tools help you manage your ergonomics solutions. 
  • Safety Meetings — Make sure all attendees at safety meetings have the latest data and information on best practices they need to make well-informed and effective decisions. 
  • On-demand Training — Build a database of eLearning resources that employees can access when they want. 
  • Air Emissions — Track real-time data to identify trends and make sure you are compliant with the latest regulations on air emissions and your environmental impact.  
  • Water Quality — Monitor water quality management collaboratively by collating all data and tracking key metrics.
  • Waste Compliance — You can track storage times, shipping documents, reporting, and compliance within the EHS management app. 

Custom Vs Off-The-Shelf EHS Software

You might be tempted to build your own EHS safety management system, and there are many reasons why this might work for you. When is it better to create a customer management system? When to opt for off-the-shelf EHS solutions? 

Here are some considerations to help you decide: 

Custom SoftwareOff-The-Shelf Software
TimeYou need to develop from scratch, which could take years.You can have it up and running instantly.
CostExpensive to pay for staff to build and maintain.Big initial outlay, but cost-effective in the long term.
Training and SupportHas to be offered in-house, usually meaning you must employ a team for this function.Usually provided by the manufacturer as part of the licensing.
FeaturesIncludes all the features you need. However, you may need to develop new features over time, which may be timely to build.You can choose the software that best fits your company, but you may not find an exact fit.
UpdatesUpdates must be developed in-house.Included in the purchase. 
IntegrationDesigned to integrate with your custom systems. Supports third-party systems.
Economy of ScaleTakes a lot of work to increase capacity.Designed to grow with your business.

Potential Issues and Challenges

One significant issue when implementing an EHS management system is that it means a major change in the way the business works. This can be scary for many people within the company as it means large-scale retraining and getting used to different systems. Of course, the benefits outweigh the downsides, but this is a hurdle QHSE professionals must leap over to introduce the software into the business. 

There may be a challenge with justifying the cost of the software. Despite the well-documented potential return-on-investment, it can seem like a large outlay for a business that is keen to keep its margins as high as possible.

Finally, there may be additional software that you also need to run in order for the software to work effectively. You should talk to the representative of the company whose software you buy to find out what other apps you need before implementing their EHS management software. 

Checklist: How to Choose the Right EHS Software

Picking the right EHS software is challenging, simply because there are a growing number of solutions. We hope this checklist can help narrow down to the ideal package for you.

☐ What do the stakeholders need?

You need to think about the stakeholders and their needs. Here are the stakeholders you might need to consider:

  • Frontline
    • Field users
    • Operators
    • Team leaders
    • QHSE coordinators
  • Back-office
    • Compliance officers
    • Team managers
    • Operations management
    • Quality management
  • Board
    • Directors: lawfully bound to be compliant
    • IT: SSO and security
    • HR 
  • Clients
    • How do your industry standards affect your clients and what do they need to know about your procedures?
    • Do they need to be able to trace back the protocols to your organization?
  • Suppliers
    • Should suppliers’ own EHS solution integrate with yours or should it be the same? 
  • Government / Auditors
    • Are there reporting requirements to which we have to comply?
    • What action points came from previous inspections and audits?

You should ask such stakeholders what would make their lives easier in terms of EHS software. Once you have feedback, you will have a better idea of the system that will work best for you. 

☐ Is it easy to use?

Another consideration is that many of these stakeholders will need to input and source data from the software. One company’s product may look easy to use for you, but can everyone use it? What if they are not as used to complex business software as you? Think about the user experience of the products you look at.

☐ Does it work on mobile devices?

It should be mobile-friendly in order to make it a worthwhile purchase. If a worker has to trek to another site to make an incident report, you miss out on the time saving, efficiency and ability to quickly and accurately recall what happened. A good EHS system will have an easy-to-use app that anyone can update wherever they are. 

☐ Is it scalable?

In addition, you should look at whether the off-the-shelf software you buy can grow and scale with your firm. Ask yourself:

  • As I roll the first use cases out among a limited number of users, how easy is it to add new users?
  • As I roll the top 3 use cases out on one site or in one team, how easy is it to add another site, team, business line, or country?
  • As my top 3 use cases are implemented, how easy is it to add a 4th and a 5th, etc?

☐  Is it customizable?

Check whether it allows you to truly customize its features for your needs. You don’t want to have to keep returning to the manufacturer any time you want to make any adjustments. Before buying, find out how much freedom you get to configure the software up to your own standards without the need for the software vendor to step up (and charge you).

☐  How long does it take to implement? How much does implementation cost?

To avoid nasty surprises, it’s best to study the implementation process before you sign up for the solution. Check if there are additional fees, how long the adoption of the software takes, and look for any potential integration issues.

The less you depend on your EHS software provider, the better. 

☐ How much does it truly cost?

Be wary of the greatly varying pricing structures you’ll find in the market. It’s best to list every price component into a comprehensive comparison matrix:

  • One-off set-up costs
  • License / subscription costs
    • Per user
    • Per site
    • Per unit of data in the system
  • Cost of maintenance and future versions
  • Configuration cost
  • Customization cost
  • Integration cost
  • Cost of training 
  • Support costs (Is support included?)

Why Choose Capptions? 

We have only been in the game since 2015, but we don’t think this is a disadvantage. On the contrary, being a young company helps us find truly modern solutions for your EHS reporting issues. Here are the reasons to choose Capptions:

  • Accessibility  

Our platform is specifically designed for you to gain access on whatever device you use. iPhone or Android, desktop, tablet, or phone, you can update our software easily. 

  • Scalability

We purposefully designed the software to grow with your business. This is through using platforms such as Amazon and Google, with global reach. You can always add new users and more capabilities as your business needs grow.

  • Try Before You Buy

We run a limited free plan that lets you get used to what we have to offer. This helps work out whether all stakeholders will be able to use the full package if you choose to go ahead. Once you are happy with the way Capptions works, simply upgrade using a credit card in no time at all. 

  • Compatible

Capptions is compatible with all modern business software. You can share your EHS data with your CRM or business intelligence systems, and they can securely share data with the EHS system.

  • Templates

You can develop your own templates, or access a large range of professional templates in the marketplace. Whatever suits your needs the best. 

  • Customizable

Capptions is like a collection of LEGO bricks. You can build your own EHS system from the parts we provide you with. You don’t have to fit your systems into an established structure. You can structure the software to work with your systems and make them more efficient. You get the benefits of a custom solution, but with the training and support of an off-the-shelf version. 

  • Proven

Capptions has worked with business heavyweights such as Bosch and BP, providing EHS solutions for them in the past few years. 

Conclusion

Buying EHS software is a long and, sometimes, difficult journey. In the end, there is no one solution for all companies and use cases. That’s why first and the most important step in the purchasing process is to clarify your organization’s specific needs. What do you want your EHS solution to do? 

Then you can simply begin to contact the different vendors, read their online reviews, and benchmark them against your checklist. Better yet, try the ones that offer free versions to get a feel of what it would truly be like to operate a particular EHS platform. If you’re currently searching for a provider, we invite you to try Capptions free.


References and Further Reading

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