Safety and Technology
As safety professionals, we are victims of technology too. As I stated in my previous post, 10 things that I learned about Safety, just as much as we need to know about safety, we need to know about technology too.
The technology I speak of is not only about the new machines we use in manufacturing, but it is also the ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) system.
What is ERP you ask? ERP was not a gunfighter at the O.K. Corral.
Technology that affects today's safety professional is the desktop computer. It has allowed one person to do the work of a room full of people.
Has replaced this:
So now you as a safety person are expected to be just as efficient. So how do you do that? Technology. Making your training available via the Internet and your company's Intranet.
Intranet? What's that? Think of an Intranet like your company's private Internet. More on Intranets here. Remember my last post, I said "Documentation, documentation, documentation?" Posting your safety program on the Internet or Intranet is documentation. It is also now a "Written Safety Program."
So what Technology Tools do I Need?
Office Program Suites:At the very least, you need to know an Office Program Suite. This consists of word processor (like MS Word), a spreadsheet program (like MS Excel), and a presentation program (like MS Power Point). I personally switched to Macs (Apple computers) and will not go back to Windows. I use Macs at work and home. I do have to give Microsoft credit, nothing out there beats MS Word. I use MS Office for Mac.
Apple's iWork is a close second. Open Office, is a free Office Program Suite, Sun Microsystems has a more robust version of Open Office called Star Office that is only costs about $80. There are many more like Corel's WordPerfect Office , IBM's Lotus Notes, and many more. A good list can be found here:
There are also great templates and template software for business cards labels, etc. at Avery (link here). The templates are mostly in MS Word (.doc) format.
Microsoft Office Templates (link here) offers free templates to download for resumes, spreadsheets, documents, calendars, presentations, brochures, certificates, labels, business cards, and more for Microsoft Office. I have found some safety templates here and some great presentation templates for training.
Image Programs:Next you need a good digital picture tool (program). On Windows, I used Irfanview (link here). This is the best image program and it is FREE! Probably the only complaint that people have switching to a Mac is that there is no program like Irfanview for the Mac.
For Macs I use a couple programs to do what Irfanview alone does. I use iResize to resize many images at the same time. I use Batch R-Name (which appears to be no longer available) to do batch renaming of files.
MS has a free program that is called "Paint." For Mac I use a great program that is like Paint on steroids called Skitch (info here).
A note on image programs: These are a very powerful tools. My main tool for inspections and accident investigations is a digital camera. "The camera remembers." What this means is that if my mind forgets, even if I take notes, a picture is like being back at the scene. The camera shows what's wrong and what's right. You can zoom in to see details that you may have missed, even look for things in different spectrums of light.
Advanced Tools:I use Adobe's Creative Suites (CS4 and CS5.5). These include Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, Acrobat, Flash Professional, Flash Builder, Dreamweaver, Fireworks, Premiere, After Effects, Audition, Bridge, Media Encoder, plus more depending on what version you have. I use Photoshop (for image manipulation) and Dreamweaver (for building websites) the most.
A note on Acrobat: Adobe Acrobat Pro (link here) is a very good tool. I would categorize this as a Basic Tool. The Windows version includes Adobe LiveCycle (link here) which is a powerful tool for creating, distributing, and compiling forms.
I also use TextWrangler which is the free version of BBBEdit which is a code editor. A windows alternative is Notepad++ (which I have never used).
I could write a whole book on this subject. Please leave comments and share tools that you use.