By Sunny Tan, Head of HSSE & Quality in C&W Services Singapore

Facility managers are constantly looking for smart ways to determine ahead of time any potential faults or defects. There’s a lot of expectation around the potential for predictive technology to meet those needs and take safety at work sites to the next level. The industry is keenly interested in predictive technology for its ability to enhance business continuity, and thus contribute to the overall safety of the site.

Man & Machine

Predictive technology helps wean facilities off relying on site personnel to react and respond to any incidents on site. Some of these incidents can impact business continuity greatly, inconveniencing occupants and tenants. It is no wonder that the facilities management industry is in a hurry to find a smart way to automate maintenance procedures, and in doing so to minimise the number of man hours and actual physical labour deployed on site.

C&W Services recently pushed out a safety app to its site staff recently to gamify safety training. It has been found to be a good way to engage site technicians and facility managers regularly on safety procedures, a good reminder on safety issues, identifying gaps in learning and re-training personnel on safety issues.

The market is also starting to debate the advantages of taking technology one step further; to collect data from regular site safety inspections, analyse trends and glean insights from these sight observations to guide safety programmes at facilities with the aim of mitigating down time substantially to ensure that clients work in a safe and healthy work environment. This is particularly useful for critical environments such as data centres, laboratories, oil refineries.

Professional Framework

Still, there are limits to the amount of risk a site can minimise through technology. Accidents continue to plague the built environment precisely because facility maintenance requires a minimum number of technicians to be on-site. It is one thing to have Workplace Health and Safety standards in place. It is another to influence the way site technicians and staff think about safety and comply with these guidelines in every situation on every site.

C&W Services recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Singapore Institution of Safety Officers this week in a bid to raise the level of professionalism amongst safety professional. It is the Institute’s first agreement with a facilities & engineering firm and provides a formal framework from which to enhance the level of safety competencies amongst its facilities and engineering safety staff.

Transforming Mindsets

Fundamentally the framework focuses on tackling the issue of safety from a multi-pronged approach, not just from a technical competence perspective. Site professionals with the right safety mindset look beyond the nuts and bolts of maintaining a facility. They think about transforming safety policies into real safety, as well as being fully aware of their physical or mental limitations. Safety-minded staff know not to put themselves and others in an unsafe situation and ensure that problem are reported from the get-go.

A site staff with the right mindset is cognizant of wider organisational goals and will encourage his or her team to be on the lookout for safety hazards as they are working. It might be as simple as spotting a ladder leaning up by an elevator and making a judgement call on the possible risks to passers-by and making a swift decision to alert a team member to remove it. Such behaviour is founded on a site staff putting clients first above everything else.

Sunny Tan is the Head of HSSE & Quality in C&W Services Singapore.