Daniel McDermott and Deirdre O’Sullivan work in Maynooth University health and safety office. They provide health and safety support to a large campus of over 15,000 students and 1,200 staff, spread between two campuses on a 100-acre site.
…”They have recently implemented iProtectU EHS health and safety software on site, which is revolutionising the way they manage safety on a day-to-day basis”…
states the Irish Health and Safety Review in a feature on how iProtectU software has provided transformational change.
… “Collaborative engagement with of our customers is essential to delivering user experience, fully integrated tools, control, and relevance of information. It has been a real pleasure working with the team at Maynooth University. Our partnerships with leading international schools, colleges and universities such as Maynooth University accelerates the delivery of new features, without collaboration this would be almost impossible to deliver effectively. ” …
states Wayne Beck Managing Director at iProtectU.
For the full feature by MARGARET KIRBY please visit the Health and Safety Review
Maynooth University has rolled out an all-encompassing software system, which enables a centralised location for all health and safety records, as well as a more efficient and collaborative approach to chemical risk assessments.
Daniel McDermott and Deirdre O’Sullivan work in Maynooth University health and safety office. They provide health and safety support to a large campus of over 15,000 students and 1,200 staff, spread between two campuses on a 100-acre site. They have recently implemented new safety software on site, which is revolutionising the way the way they manage safety on a day-to-day basis.
Coming from a manufacturing and healthcare background, Deirdre has been working as the assistant safety officer in the university since September 2020. When she first started, she realised there was scope to improve how safety documentation, training records and risk assessments were managed, to make them more accessible to everyone on site.
“At the start, I would get frequent calls from employees looking for certain safety documents or forms, and although we had a webpage with safety information, we knew it could be improved so it was easier to navigate and to update”, she explains.
Continuing on this, Daniel, who has experience across a wide range of sectors, explains that their move towards a more automated system was also helped by the uptake of online technology during the pandemic. In his role as safety officer for the university for the last ten months, he praises the initiative taken by Deirdre in identifying this opportunity for improvement, which has got great buy-in from the leadership team.
“Our experience during Covid-19 made the use of online platforms more normalised, and this new software has brought the management of safety on the campus to a whole new level”, he says.
SOFTWARE SELECTION PROCESS
Talking about how they started the process, Deirdre explains they researched different software options with a number of suppliers to get an idea of what was available. They next scoped out what their requirements were for the software, which included the facility to identify, plan and schedule employee training, complete, record and track risk assessments, manage safety documents, including safety statements and manage data on assets on the campus. They also wanted it to be aligned with the requirements of a management system. The project went out to tender, and the successful supplier was iProtectU.
Both Daniel and Deirdre are extremely complementary of iProtectU and in particular Sally Beck, the compliance director who has been their primary contact, and has worked with them from the conception stage, guiding them through the process. This has involved regular meetings, discussions and reviews to ensure the software is specifically tailored to the needs of the university.
“It is a great example of collaboration and teamwork”, explains Daniel. “We have involved key personnel from the campus, who have the experience, knowledge and skills in their work area and they have worked with the supplier to develop a software solution that suits what we need”.
Looking at the software which they have purchased, it is all-encompassing and has the capability to manage a multitude of health and safety functions. This includes reporting incidents, incident management, hazard reporting, display screen equipment assessments, risk assessments, method statements, asset management, auditing, event safety management, supplier management, permit to work systems and more.
“The system has a lot of functionality, and rather than trying to do everything at once, we were advised to start off with one area first, so we have started with the risk assessment section, focusing on chemical risk assessments”, says Daniel.
The chemistry and biology departments were involved in this, as these are the work areas where chemical storage, use and disposal are concentrated. Working with their colleagues, including Ria Walsh and Austin Power, they provided their knowledge and expertise on the work practices and chemicals used.
Their goal was to tailor the online risk assessment template, to ensure it was compliant with the legal requirements for chemical risk assessments, but also that it was intuitive for the user to input information to, easy to understand and could facilitate more than one chemical being risk-assessed at a time.
CHEMICAL RISK ASSESSMENT TEMPLATE
Talking through the steps involved, Deirdre explains a huge body of work went into developing the risk assessment template, in particular around enabling hazard pictograms to be displayed, so the reader could quickly see what the main hazards were. “The first stage is uploading information from the Safety Data Sheet (SDS), which centres around the hazards, precautions, personal protective equipment and some other key information” she says. This only needs to be done once, unless there are changes to the SDS, as then it is in the system and can be used for other risk assessments.
The next steps involve answering yes or no to five mandatory questions with regard to control measures e.g., fire controls, transport of chemicals, storage, compliance with SDS controls and training for exposed persons. The risk is assessed using an easy to understand two-factor risk matrix of likelihood (probability) and severity (consequence).
An excellent feature in the risk matrix is that the current risk rating (low, medium or high) reflects the risks and actions at the time of the assessment, but a forecast rating is also applied when actions are set at the time of the assessment. When these are completed, the current risk will reflect the forecast, which is a very efficient and time saving feature for the risk assessor.
The chemical risk assessment template can be printed out if needed, and used at the person’s workstation, or it can be electronically completed using a laptop or tablet beside the workstation. A great benefit of this system, is the most recent version of the risk assessment is immediately available and accessible to anyone using that chemical(s) or completing the task risk assessed. Updates and reviews are also simplified, as they are made electronically, and previous versions are stored, so changes from one update to the next can be tracked.
Having viewed an example of a completed risk assessment with Deirdre and Daniel, the layout and clarity of the online and printed document is excellent. It is visually appealing to the user, with clear hazard pictograms in colour with the name of the hazard printed beside it e.g., corrosive.
Images of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) are also shown under the PPE section e.g., gloves, eye protection, lab coat. Workplace exposure limits are stated e.g., 5 ppm over an eight-hour period, and there is a free text box for the user to input any existing control measures e.g., dilute in a fume hood. Overall, it appears very user-friendly for the risk assessor, and for those viewing the risk assessment.
How is the implementation and rollout of the software on the campus going? Both Deirdre and Daniel unanimously agree that their supplier has a “great willingness to change and to work with the university”, since they started using the software in May. Currently up to 1,200 staff have access to the platform and “we are phasing it in and trying to educate people slowly”, explains Daniel, who adds that iProtectU have already done a lot of training with their technical department.
“What is helpful is that people can see the benefits, and it means we are in a more comfortable position now during audits or inspections, as all of the documentation is easily accessible and up to date”, he comments.
With the experience of chemical risk assessments now well-established, the safety department is in the process of rolling out further modules, including the training, display screen equipment and asset management tools. They already have their health and safety induction, manual handling theory and fire safety theory training available online. They intend to use the tool to aid them with their display screen equipment assessments for site-based and remote work stations, and are delighted they can also use QR codes to link asset management on the campus with audits.
“The software has allowed a more collaborative and team-based approach to safety” says Daniel, who notes that it is also suitable for environmental management. Deirdre is equally pleased with it and anticipates further training on the different modules will be delivered during 2023. From speaking to them both, it is apparent they are confident this software is a key component in their transition to the next level in safety for the university.
If you would like more information contact:
Maynooth University Health and safety office on email@example.com,