Most of us should be able to expect to get home in one piece after work. Unfortunately, accidents happen – though the work-related fatality rate in Australia has decreased by 49 percent from a peak of over 300 in 2007, statistics from Safe Work Australia found $ 46.2 billion was lost to partial incapacity, $ 6.5 billion was lost to long absences, and $ 4.1 billion was lost to fatalities as a result of work-related injuries and diseases in 2012-13.
Aiming to help companies tackle the issue of workplace safety is Perth-based company Tap into Safety.
The startup was founded by Susanne and Geoff Bahn in 2014 after their decades spent looking at health and safety in the workplace from different angles: Susanne worked for more than a decade in consultancy and for nine years researching, while Geoff spent 18 years as a management trainer improving productivity and safety processes.
From these combined experiences, the cofounders saw the need for a new workplace safety solution in the space that went beyond the simple induction presentation and quiz sheet.
“I did years of research looking at how adults learn and how can we improve the safety induction and make sure it’s actually delivering behavioural change rather than just compliance,” Susanne explained.
“More mature organisations these days are wanting to move beyond compliance; they don’t just want to tick the box, they actually want to stop injury, and an induction doesn’t do it because it doesn’t really teach anything.”
Seeing this, the Bahns began work on developing Tap into Safety. The process took around 18 months, but such was the demand for the solution that they had clients on board and using it before version one was properly finished, Susanne said.
“Because I’d spent 10 years at the university doing the research and because I’d spent a lot of time out in the field, I’d published results widely, so clients were following me and my research and looking to us as an authority in the space,” Susanne explained.
Tap into Safety’s hazard insights tool works by having the startup take 360 degree photos of a company’s high-risk work areas and gamifying the task ahead, having employees play a hazard spotting game while immersed in their own work environment. They are also taken through training and control measures, delivered via audio and video, with the results of all this then delivered to managers through a reporting dashboard.
The team had begun developing Tap into Safety with a focus on mining companies. Given mining operations are often in regional or remote areas with limited reception or internet, the application was initially developed as an offline solution before the startup began to see a larger opportunity in the construction sector.
Given the fact that much large-scale construction work is city-based and the likes of training and induction sessions are held at a base with a wifi connection rather than in the field, the startup scrapped the app and moved to develop a mobile website.
This came in hand with the decision to move from a development agency to hiring an in-house development team – incidentally, the agency Tap into Safety had been using was going through some difficulties and laying off staff, so the startup picked them up.
The team then a year ago identified an opportunity to move into the mental health space and developed a new tool, All of Me, to help companies monitor the mental health of their staff; according to Safe Work Australia, mental stress is a “mechanism” of 5.8 percent of work-related incidents.
“Organisations fly blind a bit in terms of mental health because they don’t have knowledge of staff who are experiencing a mental health issue because of all the privacy around it, which makes total sense. The question then is, how can we give organisations data without causing an infringement of privacy on the individual, so the organisations can actually put in place supports that are more tailored and supportive of people before they go down that really slippery road of having a stress claim?” Susanne explained.
“All of Me has been developed to give information to organisations, but also make sure it’s completely de-identified and anonymous, so that we can stop it, because we know 20 percent of people are experiencing a mental health issue right now.”
Based on research, the All of Me platform incorporates animated videos giving users ‘refresher’ training on issues that impact mental health in the workplace, a one click help connection facility, and predictive analytics to show staff in early mental health decline.
“We put in place a whole series of analytics at the front through a questionnaire so organisations can then trend on the data and look at staff in terms of age, location, or roles, so they can look at which groups of staff are at risk and what kinds of support that particular group might need,” Susanne explained.
According to Susanne, mining companies are interested in the mental health solution, while the bulk of customers using the hazard insights tool are in the construction sector.
The startup late last year raised $ 750,000 in funding from Dorado Capital, which has also backed Townsville-founded workplace safety startup Safety Culture, to accelerate its growth. In particular, Tap into Safety will this year be looking to bed down its growth on the east coast of Australia with a business development manager working across Sydney and Melbourne, while also exploring international expansion.
In choosing an investment partner, Susanne said Tap into Safety was focused on finding smart money.
“Your investment partner has to be someone you can work with…we weren’t just after money because you can get money from anybody and they don’t actually help with the business. Dorado has principals behind it who are really clever guys with great networks, and who have built highly successful businesses before, and we were looking for them to help us scale and grow,” Susanne said.
“You’ve got to get on with investors as well. You’ve got to like your investors because you’re going to work with them, you’ve got to see them at a board meeting every single month, you’ve got to talk to each other.”
With the funding on board, Susanne said Tap into Safety’s 2018 will be focused on growing its customer base, adding to a list which already boasts the likes of Lendlease and Samsung C&T.
Image: Susanne Bahn and Geoff Bahn. Source: Supplied.