Part of your asbestos management plan should be knowing how to keep your asbestos related data secure. There are many reasons for this. Much like collecting and managing asbestos related data, these reasons all come back to keeping your workplace safe for your employees and compliant with asbestos regulations.
It’s also a lot easier than you think. As asbestos management technology gets more sophisticated, better data security measures make themselves available (and easier to use). In this article, we’ll go through all of the important questions relating to asbestos related data security, as well as how Octfolio can help.
Best practices for keeping asbestos related data safe and secure
The best part of keeping asbestos related data secure is that the principles are the same as they would be for any kind of sensitive data, making the process a lot easier. Here are some steps that you must take in order to keep your asbestos related data secure:
Keep regular backups
The best way to anticipate any data threats is to have contingencies in place for the worst case scenario. Backups are important because you can easily recover them in the event that you need to roll back your system for any reason, from something as complicated as a cyber attack to something as simple as a power surge.
It’s important to have both digital backups on the cloud, and physical backups using devices such as an external hard drive. That way, you’ll have a backup ready to go as soon as you need it.
Have security protocols for all of your employees to follow
Cyber security starts with you – but it doesn’t end there. In order for your data to be secure, your staff need to follow your lead. Therefore, you need to brief your staff on security protocols; such as how to set up their accounts (i.e. strong passwords), how to interact with your IT systems, and how to use and manage their hardware such as laptops, phones and tablets.
Have systems in place for when you are outside of the office
Remote working is here, and it’s not going away. There will be instances where you and your staff will need to operate your business outside of the office, and you need to be prepared for that. Make sure that any devices your employees are using outside of the office have safeguards ready, from passwords and two factor verification to remote shutdown and locking if necessary.
Be aware of how visitors interact with your system
When you are managing asbestos, you need to provide qualified asbestos assessors with access to your register and your records so that they have the information they need to conduct themselves in your workspace.
As a result, you need to make sure that your system is set up so that they can access the information that they need without compromising your data security. This involves testing your security system and having different access levels for different people in place.
Consolidate your software
Don’t use several programs to do what a single program can do effectively. If there is a piece of software that can store all of your asbestos data, update it, back it up and perform every other function that you would need to in order to successfully manage asbestos, then you are better off using that instead of multiple pieces of software.
The reason for this is that, from a security standpoint, it is a lot easier to manage and keep track of the security of a single program instead of trying to assess vulnerabilities for various pieces of software.
What kinds of asbestos data do you need to keep secure?
Typically, the most important asbestos data that you need to keep secure are the details in your asbestos register, which records all of the asbestos containing materials (ACMs) in your workplace, including;
- The date they were identified
- The type of ACM
- The friability of the ACM
- The condition of the ACM
- The location of the ACM (and its accessibility)
These records need to be kept up-to-date, and they must also be made readily available for any qualified professionals that are going to perform work in your building that could lead to an encounter with asbestos containing materials; from specific asbestos inspections to construction, renovation or demolition.
Who is responsible for keeping asbestos data secure?
While this work is usually delegated to an IT department, the one with the legal responsibility to ensure that asbestos data is kept secure is the one responsible for all asbestos management in a business.
However, the person in a business responsible for asbestos management changes depending on which state you are in.
In Victoria and Western Australia, asbestos management responsibilities fall on the owner of the commercial building. However; New South Wales, Queensland, ACT, Tasmania, Northern Territory and South Australia follow the Federal Model Work Health and Safety legislation introduced in 2011 (current amendments dated 14 April 2022, as of this article’s writing). For more information, you can read the Model Work Health and Safety Act from the Safe Work Australia website.
Why do you need to keep asbestos data secure?
There are three reasons that you need to keep asbestos data secure from both external threats and system errors;
- To make sure that the data can’t be stolen and exploited by those with malicious intent
- To maintain the integrity of your asbestos registers – as inaccurate registers not only make your business non compliant, but they also pose a health hazard to your staff
- To retain control over your asbestos management procedures – as incorrect registers or staff members receiving the wrong information can cause people to conduct themself in and unsafe manner and compromise your asbestos safety measures
When should you consider implementing data security measures for your asbestos related data?
Similarly to how asbestos registers need to be revised and updated every few months, your asbestos data security measures need to be examined and revised on a regular basis. Vulnerabilities and improvements will make themselves known as your system operates; and you need to make sure that you are both prepared and equipped to act on them and make your system more secure.
Where should you go for asbestos related data protection?
Octfolio is a software solution that has all of the tools you need to protect your asbestos data. You can find out more about our measures to ensure the data security of our clients here.