The Business Case for Moving to Electronic Documentation
- Lori Schroth (Concurrent Technologies Corp.) | Brandon J. Hody (Concurrent Technologies Corp.)
- Document ID
- American Society of Safety Engineers
- Professional Safety
- Publication Date
- October 2020
- Document Type
- Journal Paper
- 39 - 47
- 2020. American Society of Safety Professionals
- 3 in the last 30 days
- 3 since 2007
- Show more detail
The adoption and acceptance of electronic documentation in the workplace is on the rise, which may impact safety and health programs and processes.
Research shows electronic documentation ensures better compliance with OSH standards and document retention requirements, and electronic documents provide organizations with options that paper documentation cannot.
Understanding the benefits of electronic documentation, and the shortcomings and economic implications of paper-based documentation can help companies make informed decisions regarding OSH documentation management.
This article outlines a 10-step approach to successfully transition from paper to electronic documentation. Organizations can follow the process to reduce obstacles to implementing an electronically based documentation system and drive culture change.
A documentation management system (DMS) impacts the management and execution of OSH programs and processes (e.g., risk management, safety reporting, sustainability, compliance; Ma & Bolton, 2019), as well as the ability to retain, control, review and route OSH documentation (e.g., safety plans, OSH training records, work permits, lists of hazardous chemicals, audit reports, OSH evaluations). Consider the DMS as the hub to an OSH program, centralizing documents and data, enhancing control over processes, and facilitating access to information (Sussman, 2017; Ysaguirre, 2016). A DMS can be paper or electronically based, or a hybrid of the two. Today, countless companies use paper-based documentation systems simply because that is the way they kept documents historically. However, these systems have many disadvantages. After recognizing the disadvantages of a paper-based system and evaluating organizational documentation and recordkeeping needs for the OSH program, firms should consider migrating to an electronically based documentation system to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of OSH processes, comply with regulations and drive down financial costs.
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