The Data Revolution: Are You Up To Speed?

Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) professionals often find it challenging to justify the purchase of new software systems


In today’s data-driven world, it is vital for companies to be able to generate OHS data to ensure that the organisational goals of promoting a healthier and safer workforce can be achieved.

Management, OHS managers, and OHS professionals alike can derive great benefit from these systems and this article will provide some insight into how this can be done.


Some of the key management issues and concerns that are common across companies and can be used as a checklist in helping to determine your business needs are:

How can I turn data from disparate desktop and paper-based systems into valid business information, that can be used to make informed business decisions?

Can I identify workforce productivity trends and costs?
How do I manage lost time in the workplace?
Can I ensure employees are medically fit to perform their jobs?
How can I ensure compliance to Department of Labour regulations?
Can I provide consistent OHS programmes across all sites and locations in the organisation?
Am I able to protect the confidentiality of personal health information?
Can I support proactive health and safety practices?
Disparate systems

One of the greatest detriments to effective data management in any department, whether HR, finance or OHS, is the use of disparate systems. For example, within many companies and government agencies, health and safety data is not managed within a single repository but instead is spread independently across OHS functions and many separate computer and even paper-based systems.

These systems are often isolated from, or duplicated by, each other and are inefficient and redundant to use or rollup. When medical, industrial hygiene and safety personnel use independent systems to provide collective reports to management, the data provided is inconsistent and fragmented. As a result, trends which impact the bottomline are invisible or at best difficult to identify. If not corrected, disparate OHS systems will only continue to drain resources and negatively impact productivity.

ERP solutions

The business challenges related to OHS can all be addressed through a centralised and integrated OHS software application. The software should provide integration with the organisation’s HR system as well as between OHS functional areas (medical, safety, etc.). Optional integration with the HR system allows for efficient, seamless transfer of employee data to OHS, while integration between functional areas allows medical, safety, and HR to “talk” to one another, share information and report findings collaboratively, thereby eliminating redundancies.

An integrated health and safety software system is also an effective tool to help organisations streamline and standardise their OHS business processes across multiple sites and locations. This promotes data integrity and consistency in data analysis.

Robust management of data security

Organisations must comply with and adhere to very strict regulations on data privacy and security. A system with configurable and robust security options will allow you to control who has access to information on an enterprise, site, role, or individual basis. A solution and/or vendor that is compliant with formal and recognised standards for information security offers additional assurance that your data will be protected.

To find out more we caught up with the Managing Director of Med-e-Mass, the knowledgeable Gideon Brits.

What are the keys to delivering real-time solutions for customers with ever tightening margins?

Customers need to have a clear understanding of their business processes and this should be well documented and available to a vendor. A great amount of time and money can be saved if the business analysis phase can be shortened. Vendors can translate well-documented requirements into functional specifications, which in the end will provide huge savings to organisations.

In addition, customers should consider using a cloud-based solution. When using a dependable and reliable cloud service to host your data you can enjoy the benefits of not having a costly server that needs constant maintenance i.e. database backups, application installations or upgrades. The data sits safely and securely in the cloud and all that is needed is an Internet connection.

What are the essentials to ramp-up skills development within vital sections in the mining/associated heavy industry sectors?

Customer should consider online courses. Besides the cost savings associated with travel and accommodation, online courses can be completed at work or after hours. These are usually free of charge and more specific courses are very cost effective. Students watch short video lectures online and complete the assignments that are graded either automatically or by peers.

What have been some of the advancements in medicine over the last 10 years, and how has technology made it safer?

One of the most innovative advancements in healthcare has been the adoption of Electronic Patient Record (EPR) technology. South Africa has recently seen the introduction of an online EPR solution. This product was launched to meet the needs of practitioners by offering a simple yet cost effective way of implementing EPR. Since the application is online (and meets stringent security protocols), the cost associated with implementation is vastly reduced. Being an online solution also enables practitioners to access records securely from any location. All the features associated with an EPR are available on the online solution. Some features include:

Ability to make comprehensive patient notes
Automatic integration of laboratory and other reports
Uploading of images and drawings
Billing request creations
Access to treatment protocols
Action plan reminders
Communications – SMS/Email.
How has the fluctuations in the rand value affected your business?

Med-e-Mass owns all the source codes of its products. We are therefore not affected by rand/dollar exchange rates as all development is done in-house. The benefits to customers are that costs are kept stable. In addition, all costs are quoted in rands

What are the keys to a stable and predictable workforce as South Africa struggles to stay competitive in the mining realm?

The South African Mining and Industrial world is under serious pressure to contain labour costs amid a slump in income across the world. Several measures have been taken to prevent job losses and increase productivity, and every tool available to support needs to be utilised to assist the workforce to remain healthy and fit for work. Healthcare records, on the spot servicing by the healthcare team, and in time reporting and analysis of healthcare trends are crucial to increase productivity, efficient utilisation of the workforce, and enable a decrease in absenteeism. Electronic health records and data analysis of the wellness of the workforce is a must if you are serious about competitive mining.

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