Driving Friction and Cost out of the Health and Safety Process

Plan-Do-Check Act Cycle

If it’s easy, it gets done! And it costs less too.

Any management process that is difficult to do is a potential victim of low engagement and performance. But it also means there will be a higher "frictional" cost;  this can then be a further barrier to organisational engagement.

In the case of a Health and Safety process it’s going to result in:-

  • Less Compliance
  • Less Defensibility
  • Less Engagement
  • More Cost

It doesn't help the often-held belief that Health and Safety is an area of cost with no “obvious” ROI (although that view can shift when a serious incident occurs, and suddenly the consequences can become all too uncomfortably real).

It’s an activity and cost the business has to incur to stay compliant (unless it has the mindset, “we care about our people and want them to go home safe every day”).

And that cost is only exasperated if the management process has high levels of friction in its operation and consequently low levels of performance.

Health and Safety is prone to friction

Let's be honest; it is a complicated, multi-faceted process.

It comprises several different tasks that need to be carried out regularly across all of the areas of the operation, items, assets, resources and activities.

The requirement for a robust audit trail adds a further level of record-keeping activity.

It also needs engagement across the business if it is to work well, and this can be less forthcoming if the tasks add a “burden” to an existing workload.

And just trying to administer all of this can be a cottage industry, let alone being able to "get out in front" and manage your risks proactively.

External Consultants are sometimes seen as a "work transfer" solution, but if they aren't in the business all the time, many activities still need to be done, which can experience the same friction.

So how can you take the friction out of the Health and Safety process?

One of the ways is to remove the number of process steps – how can I input the minimum number of actions for the maximum output? Digitisation has a big part to play.

One of our long-standing clients manages 50+ locations in 11 countries with 1200+ staff. They have embedded our management system with high levels of local site engagement, managed by the UK-based H&S Manager, who has real-time data of all their safety monitoring and incident activity across their footprint. He also receives alerts when something “doesn’t happen” again in real-time.

The H&S Manager leverages our management system to undertake every part of their H&S process and places himself in a position where he is focused on the management of the process and not the administration.

As well as a highly streamlined process, they are virtually paperless, supporting their ESG goals.

Let's look at Risk Assessments as an example; they are the core of Safety, and the Control Measures' continuous operation protects all concerned.

This is best achieved by the proactive monitoring of those Risk Assessments (to ensure the control measures are operative) and therefore understanding how the business is performing so that shortfalls and performance issues can be managed ( a fundamental of PDCA and HS(G)65).

So as the proactive monitoring takes place, what if that one action could also achieve the outcomes:

  • Date stamped record – Audit Trail & Claims Defensibility.
  • Compliance Score of the Control Measure performance – Audit Trail, Lead Metric Performance Data, Business Engagement and Alignment.
  • Identify and Record Corrective Action – Visibility of issues, Task Assignment and Corrective Action.
  • Management Alert on pre-identified shortfalls –  Visibility, Management Control and intervention, Engagement/Alignment.

All are achieved on a tablet, without any paper and instantly reportable anywhere in the world. Imagine that any Checklists, Accident Reports, Near Misses notifications could all be carried out the same?

How much frictional cost can be driven out of the H&S process?

It can be challenging to establish what frictional cost benefit can be gained, however, a retrospective view (we used to do this and now we don't) can provide insight.

The following is a cost/benefit analysis by another client who had to justify each item of expense to a new owner, in this case, our system licence; "if we don’t spend money on this, it will cost us this".

This client had c 250 employees, and their licence cost was c £5000 pa. The costs they would then incur if they weren’t utilising a “digital” risk management system are shown below:-



 Training delivery - alternative cost


 Management Time: Workflow, Audit Trail, Management Reporting


 Business Travel (site inspections)


 Insurance Cost benefit

 £5,000 -£7,500

 Inhouse IT costs

 £4,200 - £8,400


 £44,200 - £52,300


Whenever we talk to clients about the cost/benefit ratio, it is normally between 8 and 12 times the licence costs.

Another way we look at the cost/benefit is by the number of employees, where anecdotally (there are variables such as the number of locations and the current format of their existing H&S Management System), this falls in a range of between £150 and £225 per employee (per annum).

And if it's easier, it gets done!

One of the significant benefits of any easier process will be higher levels of Employee Engagement. And when safety becomes an activity that everyone participates in, then there can be significant benefits to any organisation. If you’re unfamiliar with the Gallup Q12 and the benefits of a highly engaged workforce, read more here.

If you would like to understand more about digitising Health and Safety read our insight: Is digitisation a game changer for Health and Safety

If you want to find out exactly how this could benefit your organisation, book a call with one of our team.

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