Abstract

Environmental safety and health (ES&H) compliance is strongly regulated by the Government. Most companies that have to deal with these regulations are forced to grapple with volumes of Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) documentation and in some cases, the International Organization for Standards (ISO) if they sell their products abroad. This includes understanding the regulations as well as having to refer to various parts, sometimes on a daily basis. Being compliant with these regulations is further complicated by numerous reports, many of which overlap and are due to the Government at different times during the year.

The problem is that ES&H professionals and managers spend an inordinate amount of time digging through regulations and filing reports rather than focusing on the ES&H job. By automating this process, the ES&H professional can spend more time out in the field implementing ES&H programs and less time ensuring compliance documentation is filed on time and wasting time manually digging through regulations. Examples include, having Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDSs) available on computer at sites requiring employee review, managing the document flow through the review process using computers, integrating engineering drawings and other documents using computers, and managing and tracking all of the training requirements using computers required for OSHA EPA and ISO compliance.

This paper addresses computer technology in solving ES&H-related issues. State-of-the-art hardware architectures including client-server and Computer Output to Laser Disk (COLD) are presented. Solutions are presented for various systems sizes.

Introduction

This paper covers many aspects regarding today's information superhighway. Initially, for those who may not be as computer literate, a discussion on choosing a personal or portable computer is presented. This includes an assessment of today's technology and where the technology appears to be going. This followed by a discussion of the Internet and current uses and warnings. The last section presents a discussion of technologies that assist safety professionals in managing the paper chase.

Choosing the Right PC-The On-Ramp to the Superhighway I have observed the information highway go from the Model A to the Lambourghini. That is, I have seen the personal computer go from a huge two-person lift to a wafer-thin subnotebook that actually fits into a briefcase with room to store things other than computer parts. While I have finally gotten on the Information Superhighway On-Ramp. as I now have a portable computer at my current job (courtesy of my company), I am a far cry from the super-fast, triple-twist non-interlaced Liquid Crystal Display (LCD) "Lambourghini" subnotebooks that are being used today.

I have researched portable/personal computers and their attributes and have made several conclusions. What you will find in this section is an attempt to provide a methodology for selecting a portable/personal computer depending on individual needs and a brief look into the future of computers in the workplace.

Getting Started

In choosing a portable/personal computer today, you must play a game of give and take in the area of attributes and functionality. The more options you pick the better and faster for desktops and the bigger and heavier the portable computer gets. Some of the attributes include weight, keyboard size, screen, pointing device, processor, memory, hard drive, speed, expandability, disk drives, etc. See Table 1 for a list of tips for buying a portable/personal computer.

The best place to start is usually the guts of the computer. the processor, memory, and the hard drive. How fast do you want the computer to run? How much Random Access Memory (RAM) do you think you will need?

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