As a safety professional, it’s your job to keep workplace incidents to a minimum. But if you’re not utilizing mobile apps for incident recording, you're missing out on a way to encourage reporting, conduct better investigations, and record incidents faster than with paper.
Mobile technology is making vast improvements to everyday life, and workplace safety management is no exception. With nearly 95% of Americans owning a cellphone of some kind, and 77% of them owning smartphones, there’s little excuse to not incorporate mobile technology into your safety program.
Here are three ways mobile technology can help your organization report incidents and injuries, which can be used to find trends and prevent future ones.
Incident recording is a safety manager’s best friend and the first tool to prevent further injuries. When you are alerted of an incident, you can look at what went wrong and how to improve your safety program so similar incidents don’t occur.
Even records of near misses and minor incidents give insight as to which safety procedures are working, and which need more evaluation. So having more incident records isn’t necessarily bad. It can actually make your job easier!
The more incident records you have, the more data there is for a better analysis of your safety program to pinpoint potential issues. Any safety professional would rather have 15 records of near miss incidents if it leads to preventing an OSHA recordable one.
Here’s where mobile technology comes in. It makes it so easy to record an incident, it encourages incident recording. Recording an incident could be as simple as opening an app on your smartphone and filling out a quick incident write-up. It’s not much harder than sending a text message!
If recording an incident isn’t easily accessible, workers may worry about wasting time filling out forms for minor incidents. You want to minimize any barriers that may prevent employees from recording incidents in order to maximize the safety data you can analyze.
It seems the immediate reaction whenever something occurs nowadays is to pull out the cellphone and start taking pictures. Often times a workplace injury is no different, and any photo evidence taken can provide good insight for the incident investigation.
Therefore, if you are going to collect photos taken by employees for your investigation, why not take out the middleman? Save yourself the time by allowing employees to directly upload photos from their mobile devices to a space where you can access them while conducting the incident investigation.
Mobile technology can even utilize the GPS location feature on smartphones to record the exact coordinates of where the incident occurred. With a simple click of a button, employees can pinpoint the incident location on a map and provide invaluable investigation data.
The easier it is to collect incident photos, the less likely you to miss out on critical information. This ensures you’ll have a view of the incident from every angle, and see the whole picture of what occurred and why.
But how does faster recording prevent incidents?
We already established you want as much detail as possible about why an incident occurred in order to implement measures to prevent it from happening again. But you’re not going to be able to see where safety procedures failed if the information on the incident is vague or non-descriptive.
Recording the details of an incident while they are fresh in the mind allows for more precise information, as memory becomes unreliable as time passes. Mobile technology saves employees the time of running to find the nearest computer (or worst, the nearest paper form) since they’ll likely have their mobile device on or near them at all times.
The initial incident report is always the most reliable, and the closer that initial report is to the time of the incident, the higher quality its information will be. High quality and detailed incident information ensures you will correctly identify the cause of the incident, and thus where improvements are truly needed to prevent future incidents.
It's also important to know that there is a direct correlation between how long it takes an incident to be reported and an increase in the cost of claims. The costs of worker compensation claims were found to rise the longer it took to report the claim. So not only will faster incident reporting help reduce incidents, it should cut the amount spent on claims of the few that still occur!
Don’t underestimate the power of mobile technology, but keep in mind it can only do so much on its own. It’s only when you incorporate mobile technology into a larger safety management system can you truly take advantage of all the benefits it has to offer.
You need a system that will hold all these incident records, and easily allow you to conduct in-depth incident investigations, calculate your Total Case Incident Rate (TCIR), and run reports to find underlying trends. Otherwise, you’re just going to have a flood of incident records. Mobile technology for recording incidents combined with a comprehensive incident management system is the key to preventing further workplace incidents.