The Ottawa Business Journal recently announced the winners of The Ottawa Network and Smart & Biggar sponsored annual Bootstrap Awards, and Rillea Technologies was thrilled to receive the SAAS (Software as a Service) award for its cloud-based software, SDS RiskAssist.
What is SDS RiskAssist?
SDS RiskAssist is cloud-based software that not only hosts WHMIS safety data sheets online, but that reads SDS content to automatically extract, organize and flag crucial chemical hazard information. It is currently being used by municipalities, medical and dental clinics, automotive shops, educational institutions, manufacturers and service organizations.
Rillea Technologies was founded in 2016 by chemical engineers Lisa & Rob Hallsworth in an attempt to change behaviour around the management of chemicals. Chemical-related collateral damage to workers and the environment is a liability faced by most organizations around the world. And it is not a small liability - the current annual cost of occupational disease in Canada is estimated at $50 billion!
Based on their combined 60 years of experience in the chemical industry, Rillea’s founders could see that much of the reason for the lack of employer oversight with chemicals was due to the overwhelming number of chemicals being used in workplaces, the complexity of the associated regulations and the belief that “someone”, “somewhere” would read and act on the Safety Data Sheets.
How Can SDS RiskAssist Change Behaviour?
From Rob’s extensive executive experience he knew that for behaviour change to take root the barriers to doing the right thing must be removed. Once removed employees can see soon, certain and positive outcomes. The biggest barrier to effective chemical safety was the time required to read the safety data sheets – 80 hours for a small organization with 100 products. The next biggest barrier was to understand the hazards found in the sheet and match those hazards to the applicable control regulation. The final barrier was training employees to protect themselves.
With SDS RiskAssist, Rillea Technologies developed software that reads Safety Data Sheets for you (recently 1,000 sheets were read in 18 minutes - 2,500 times faster than a human). Regulatory guidance can be automatically matched to the data sheet and a one page, 100-word summary produced for employee use (a client reduced information presented to individual employees by 99%).
To the delight of Rillea’s team, several customers have used the insight from SDS RiskAssist to eliminated 1/3 of their chemical inventory, with the bulk of the eliminated chemicals being the most hazardous to employees. This means lower inventory cost, less need for engineering and administrative controls, reduced use of personal protective equipment and fewer hours required for training. Best of all, the exposure to these chemicals for workers and the environment has been eliminated. SDS RiskAssist gave these employers easy access to information that allowed them to take action that resulted in soon, certain and positive results!
Why Was Bootstrapping Important?
Bootstrapping this business was important to Rillea due to the time and patience required for product development. Being able to avoid the pressure that can often come from investors or the stress of making payroll allowed a laser-like focus on customer needs. The addition of Hiten Jadeja, a software engineer, as a third partner allowed all work on SDS RiskAssist to take place in-house. Having few resources also spurred automation of tasks, which also simplified Rillea’s SAAS offering for end-users.
The Ottawa Network’s Bootstrap SAAS Awards consider entrepreneurs who can demonstrate that their company uses Software as a Service to provide a product that has customer uptake and enthusiasm as shown in number of customers and/or growth. SDS RiskAssist is now being used in over 100 workplaces to manage more than 12,000 chemicals. For Rillea’s team this award represents a very important milestone in achieving one of their core objectives, which was to create a successful product that can result in positive change of behaviour!