What are OSH electronic tools?
The development of information and communication technologies leads to an increasing number of interactive networking tools (e-tools), and the area of health and safety at work is not indifferent to these changes. Many stakeholders in OSH have already shown an interest in new technologies and opportunities that e-tools offer, and in recent years many new OSH solutions have been developed. The need to find an uncomplicated, easy way to ensure compliance and to foster a culture of safety at work is an important driver of the development of e-tools – especially in small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).
An e-tool is a program that works over the Internet, on a computer, phone, tablet, or other electronic devices. The prefix “e” – “electronic” – distinguishes these tools from traditional paper tools or publications.
E-tools are interactive. The user enters the information in the form of knowledge (e.g. by supplementing the relevant fields or boxes with data) or the results of measurements of environmental parameters (e.g. measurement of noise or light levels made with a smartphone). Based on such data, the tool presents you with information tailored to your needs (e.g. guideing you through the decision-making process). Such an “e-tool” is therefore different from a static, passive instrument such as traditional datasheets, checklists or e-guides.
OSH e-tools should support organisations (especially SMEs, as they are the ones most in need of such tools) and/or provide them with access to specific resources to help them manage their occupational risks. E-tools can be developed for a variety of purposes – they can be very general and respond to the needs of a diverse audience or more specific and tailored to specific users. For example:
- support ing the implementation of OSH legislation (by the main OSH body, which can meet legal obligations through e-tools);
- helping to promote a culture of prevention (for awareness-raising and information purposes);
- (e.g. e-learning).
For organizations and individual users of OSH e-tools:
- empower SMEs that can independently prevent OSH risks within an organisation;
- simplify business (electronic data is easier to transmit and analyse than on paper);
- help identify hazards and risks in the workplace;
- simplify the risk assessment process;
- illustrate potential solutions to OSH problems;
- support the implementation of preventive measures in the workplace;
- are easy to use, interactive and widely available.
The use of electronic tools can be monitored, which is not possible with paper tools. You can also get feedback on the effectiveness and functionality of the e-tool. Furthermore, the results of the use of e-tools (e.g. statistics) can be used as design indicators and anonymous data can be made available to monitor the performance of OSH policies.
E-tools can be used by intermediaries and decision-makers as tools to raise awareness (e.g. when used in campaigns). They can also mobilise stakeholders (e.g. social partners, inspectorates).
Electronic tools are attractive to young people (employees, students) and can reach a diverse audience as they are distributed online (on the Internet and social media).