The University of Strathclyde is renowned as a leading technological university with excellent teaching and research as well as strong links with business and industry. Situated in the heart of Glasgow city centre, it has more than 20,000 students and 3,500 members of staff from over 100 countries.
Universities are unique institutions, almost like many different organisations working under one umbrella. Keeping a large, busy campus and those on it safe and secure provides a distinct challenge.
An institution of the size of the University of Strathclyde experiences all kinds of risks. The University wanted to improve the existing reporting systems around three of these, security, student welfare and health and safety. The existing reporting systems in each of these areas, were disconnected and difficult to interrogate. While some reporting did take place on in-house systems, the health and safety incidents were logged via paper forms which were laborious and time consuming.
Senior managers wanted direct and instant insight into all these important areas to make sure the University was managing these risks effectively and could act quickly to mitigate the impact of any incidents. With the current systems, any reports had to be collated manually, a slow and resource-heavy process.
“We were looking for a system that would provide instant reporting across all three of these streams,” says Sarah Carroll, Specialist Health and Safety Manager at the University of Strathclyde. “We needed something that allows any incidents or near-misses to be reported easily and quickly, capturing them centrally to make sure nothing is overlooked. We wanted to take a much more informed and proactive approach to managing these risks. We also needed a system that provided instant access to incident management reports.
When we did our research to find a partner to work with, Alcumus emerged as the best fit. They understood exactly what we needed and had the flexibility to create a tailored solution to fully meet our brief.”
Working successfully through Covid-19
The Covid-19 pandemic had a huge impact on higher education, with staff and students forced to switch to remote learning. It starkly highlighted the need for universities, like Strathclyde, to have close scrutiny over any possible risks to health and safety.
The contract with Alcumus to produce the three new, integrated apps, known internally as Strathclyde Incident Reporting and Investigation System (SIRIS), was signed in August 2020 and was launched in early 2022. The whole project has been managed virtually, which has created its own challenges, but these have been successfully overcome and the lack of face-to-face contact has not hindered a strong relationship being built.
“Through this whole process our Project Manager, Tony Wilson, has been amazing,” says Sarah. “He has had endless patience, supporting us through every step of the journey. He has always been there whenever we needed help, clearly explaining what we need to do and providing useful suggestions for creating a system that works for us.”
Going live and beyond
This project has highlighted to Sarah and her team the need to effectively communicate their processes to staff, students and anyone else who uses the university, so everyone is clear how they can flag an incident. They also needed to provide training to all 250 account users to ensure consistent incident management across the university. The launch of SIRIS was co-ordinated with internal communications and training to make sure everyone is clear about the importance of safety on campus and knows how they can play their part.
“I’m really excited about the launch of SIRIS. It will be interesting to see through the utilisation of trends analysis tools whether the system changes the organisations reporting trends. I believe the superior insights we’ll be able to gather will help us tackle any incidents much faster and allow us to develop smarter, more proactive approaches. In Alcumus, we’ve found a partner who understands us and what we need. I’m confident they have the capability to help us effectively manage any risks we face now and in the future.”
Alcumus is now supporting almost 20 universities across the UK with their EHSQ management, including Staffordshire University, Herriot-Watt University and The University of Sheffield Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC).
While the need to manage risk is widely recognised within businesses, it is also just as important and a growing priority in the academic world, with many colleges and Universities rethinking how they look at risk. Contact us for further information and to book a demo.