1.   Introduction

Traditional paper-based methods of health and safety management are increasingly time-consuming and inefficient. Such systems rely on manual reporting for every stage of the reporting requirements: from recording the information at root level, submitting it to the appropriate person or department, compiling and processing the safety information, and analysing and monitoring performance and incidents. This has been compounded in recent years by the growth of companies – both globally, as well as the expansion of their internal structures (many companies now are “in partnership” with suppliers, and as such their policies and procedures extend down the supply chain) – and the increased levels of health and safety regulations and legislation, necessitating the creation of more detailed and comprehensive records, and the retention thereof for longer periods.

2.   An Outline of Manual Reporting Systems

A typical paper-based health and safety system works along the following lines: A worker is injured. The line manager completes a paper based incident report, manually – either immediately, or (more likely) at a later date. This “later date” might be days, or more, after the event, depending on the seriousness of the event. The line manager passes this document to an administrator, who manually, inputs the data into an electronic format (e.g., a spread-sheet). This information is passed to a safety officer, or other specific manager, who analyses the information with a view to identifying the cause of the incident. Corrective action is taken, and preventative measures put into place. These preventative measures are relayed to the line manager, or other personally at root level. The report or information is later collated and inputted into a data base containing details of all incidents occurring in a recent time-frame – such as the previous month, 6-months, or year. This database is used to generate reports on a timely basis, in compliance with regulatory requirements (e.g. OSHA Form 300, OHSA form 300A and RIDDOR).

3.   Drawbacks

Such systems are inefficient, time consuming and waste resources. In particular:

  • They comprise a series of manual tasks performed by a multitude of personnel at various levels. This is a waste of personnel time and effort.
  • They allow for time-lapses between the occurrence of the incident, and its reporting at a central level, and its later inclusion into a compliant reporting system. This can give rise to inaccuracies about the event.
  • They generate lapses between the occurrence of the event and the application of any corrective action and preventative measures. This can lead to the reoccurrence of injury.
  • Drawn-out, time-consuming systems have the effect of discouraging workers and managers from reporting less serious incidents and near misses. However, it is the identification of near-misses which in particular can lead to a safer work environment, by taking steps to remove potential hazards.

In a nutshell, manual reporting safety systems, inherent in so many companies, are no longer effective for large companies with multiple sites.

4.   Automating HSE Management with Centralised Software Systems

The goal behind regulations and policies such as those of OSHA is not to ensure that incidents are recorded and reports generated; it is to ensure corrective and preventative measures are taken to create a safer working environment. This should be the end-goal of a company’s health and safety system. Specialized safety reporting software can free up time and efficiency, allowing managers to focus on implementing corrective and preventative measures, and thereby creating not only a safer, but also a more efficient, work environment. Specifically:

  • An effective software system can speed up and streamline the recording process by:
  • Enabling workers, their line managers, or other persons, to access a centralised reporting system themselves, and input data in real-time (or near as).
  • Formatting the information asked of the person in accordance with the company’s specific policy requirements, and can also include fields which are mapped directly to regulatory body requirements (such as the OSHA).
  • Recording the status of the incident – whether it was a near-miss, minor incident, restricted work, resulted in hospitalization etc. This is particularly beneficial for recording near-misses, without wasting employee time.
  • Enabling pictures or other documents / files to be attached to the report
  • Allowing reports to be submitted electronically from the field on mobile devices including for example iPads, iPhones, Android & Windows Tablets.
  • Allowing reports to be submitted in multiple languages.
  • Asking detailed and wide-ranging questions of the employer, requiring short responses, so as to minimise delivery time, but to ensure that all pertinent details are recorded
  • Being duplicated and sent electronically to all other personnel required to input additional data or to take reactive steps
  • Notifying every party to the reporting process when action on their part is required
  • Prompting parties if action is not taken, or appropriate data is not submitted
  • Software can also produce at-a-glance real-time data for personnel tasked with analysing trends and performance in their health and safety systems.
  • Centralised systems mean that firm-wide reports are collated and can be integrated into general data, enabling managers to integrate firm-wide policies and standards.
  • With the availability of real-time information, and easily-accessible and easily-read reports on a firm-wide basis, Health and Safety management will ultimately progress from focusing on historical data and analysis, to being fully proactive and preventative, improving an organisations performance..
  • Report templates can be customized to address all compliance safety reporting requirements, e.g. by automatically completing OSHA 300, OSHA 300A and RIDDOR forms as soon as a report is logged.
  • Some systems enable organizations to identify the causes of safety incidents, and trigger the initiation of workflows that include corrective and preventative actions based on the type, severity and location of the event.

5.   Overall

Safety programs need to be responsive and insightful if they are to have the effect of reducing risks and claims and ultimately improving performance and preventing future incidents from occurring. Relying on paper-based systems promotes delay, wasted resources, and often inaccuracy in the reporting system. They can also result in delays in identifying the causes of events, increasing the risk for employees of further incident from a reoccurrence of that event.

CMO is a world leader in the provision of health and safety software solutions, across a multitude of industries. Our modules include: Incident management, audit management; risk management; compliance management, action management, training & competence, crisis management and permits and approvals. Our systems are flexible, cost-effective allowing organisations to automate HSE management improving performance and creating a proactive safety culture giving organisations a competitive edge on national and global scale. If you would like a no obligation discussion with a Consultant to see how you can improve performance by automating HSE management, please email or Contact CMO.


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