When it comes to safety, hindsight is often 20/20.
Even if employees detect and report workplace hazards, trends or patterns don't emerge until weeks or months later when reports are run.
At best, that puts companies in a perpetual state of putting out fires. At worst, they're only able to see risks and hazards after an accident happens.
The ability to capture and analyze real-time employee observations, then, is the key to a safer workplace.
Barriers to timely employee reporting
Under 29 CFR 1904, employers are required to maintain records of serious injuries and illnesses. Many employers also keep logs of near miss/close calls, vehicle inspection forms, and other employee observations.
The problem is that these observations are rarely captured in real-time. When employees identify a hazard, they're usually in the middle of work -- meaning stopping to fill out a lengthy reporting form is inconvenient. In other cases, employees simply don't know what or how to report. And despite anti-retaliation laws, some employees fail to report incidents or observations for fear of repercussions.
Software can increase real-time reporting
Some of these challenges can be addressed through ongoing training. Safety leaders should review employees' rights and responsibilities, including the right to report a work-related injury, illness, or safety violation without fear of retaliation. Employers should also review the types of incidents that should be reported and how to fill out company forms.
To overcome other reporting obstacles, companies should consider using mobile reporting software. This technology enables employees to upload real-time observations, images, and video from any kiosk or mobile device -- even offline. It takes less than 30 seconds for employees to fill out a report, requires no special knowledge, and can be done anonymously.
Analyzing employee observations
Of course, getting employees to report their observations is only half the battle. Another challenge is how to analyze observation data in a timely fashion. Paper forms have to be painstakingly entered into spreadsheets, and manually compiled into reports. While you might glance at individual observations when they're entered, it's impossible to get a clear picture of trends and patterns until you run a report at the end of a period. By then, it's often too late.
Instead, employers can harness the power of EHS software to turn employee observations into real-time safety knowledge. When employees report an observation, it immediately goes into a centralized database. From there, employers can view observations in dynamic dashboards. They can also drill down on trends at specific locations or specific types of incidents.
Using safety dashboards in Perillon, EHS and executives can analyze incident trends in real time.
In all, real-time employee observations can help employers proactively prevent accidents and lower risks. Mobile reporting software enables employers to capture better observations and get a complete picture of their risk profile.