With unsafe working conditions causing thousands of workers deaths and injuries each year, alongside tens of thousands of safety violations, workplaces are rightfully regulated. For a wide range of industries, safety inspections are the frontline tool that make jobs, workers, and sites safer, as well as prevent OSHA fines, lawsuits, and even corporate criminal prosecutions.
But despite workplace safety inspections clearly preventing incidents, injuries, and deaths, implementing an effective, enterprise-wide safety management program is no easy task.
Facing current cross-sector labor shortages and higher wages in an unstable economy, companies are asking safety managers to do more with less, often leading them to hire people with limited safety and work experience.
When unskilled labor meets shrinking resources, however, it creates a vicious cycle that continually jeopardizes safety. Safety inspections often get framed as an annoying formality or time-wasting burden – a dangerous myopia that leads to accepting safety shortcuts, proliferating hazards across sites and jobs, and perpetuating a workforce culture that downplays safety.
New technologies, however, are revolutionizing the safety inspection process with affordable, powerful, and user-friendly digital platforms. These are tools are specifically designed to manage safety inspection programs more efficiently, regardless of size or sector– and in a way that improves wider business outcomes – so that workers or inspectors aren’t pushed to take shortcuts that compromise safety.
As more companies look to digitize their safety programs, an essential question emerges: where to start?
In this blog, we’ll look at why implementing safety management software is easier than you think and how doing it can radically improve safety and business outcomes across your entire organization, even if its implementation is only gradual.
Key pointers to remember before starting
If you’re starting from scratch, it may be overwhelming to do a full-scale safety management software implementation. But if you’re hesitating, there’s a few things to keep in mind.
First, the wider stakes involved. While inspections start from the premise of ensuring safety, their importance quickly widens to encompass broader business outcomes like company reputation, insurance coverage, profit margins, and more. Even the costs of a commonplace concussion, for example, very quickly add up: assuming a 5% profit margin, a concussion will cost a company over $114,000 in direct and indirect costs and require over $2.3 million of additional sales to cover them – a shocking figure for most, if not all, companies.
Secondly, starting a digital inspection program is easier than you think. Leading safety management software providers like Fulcrum are the epitome of cutting-edge technology that’s user-friendly and plug-and-play, great for small to medium-sized companies that may not have the resources or experience to best tackle these challenges.
Finally, there’s incredible value in getting started right away because of the immediate benefits to your safety program right out of the box, even if you’re not sure what the full extent of what you need.
In other words, you don’t have to undertake a massive overhaul of your safety management program all at once to see real results. Integrating safety field inspection software can be approached piecemeal, implementing as few as one singular inspection process to begin with, so you can prove the ROI and effectiveness of using tech for safety and fuel greater appetite for modernization.
Field safety inspection software provides the strongest starting point for any safety program. Deployable directly out-of-the-box across teams and processes, field safety inspection software connects the right information to the right people at the right time, delivering the consistent and seamless communication you need to establish and manage a rigorous, data-driven safety inspection program that keeps everyone safe.
Besides being easier than you think, going digital and integrating software into your safety inspection program offers some truly great advantages from the get-go, including the following are major benefits.
Better safety inspection records
Thinking they’re cutting costs and saving resources, companies with more traditional or informal approaches to inspections – that is, using paper and spreadsheets– will also perpetuate all of their downsides: transcription errors or lost forms that lead to inaccurate data collection, information gaps that disconnect teams and slow down remediation, time wasted compiling data for circulation to stakeholders, and more – all of which hinder efforts to identify safety issues and comply accordingly.
For their part, digital platforms help establish strict step-by-step protocols and repeatable processes, cloud-connected and accessible to all in real-time, which foster the consistency to produce safer work and better inspections.
If carefully and consistently followed, SOPs are much more likely to produce safe results. Safety managers using digital platforms can easily create and share customizable checklists that describe and standardize detailed instructions to safely guide any manner of task, worker, or project. This way, safety measures can be incorporated directly into task execution rather than as an afterthought, ensuring safety from the start. This reduces overall inspection and remediation time, as well as the time and cost of rework. Similarly, inspectors can be given strict SOPs to make sure that what they are inspecting is both safe and compliant.
Standardizing the same cloud-connected information across your organization, a digital SOP becomes the record of choice from which your entire workforce can perform tasks consistently and accurately, and the key to improving safety outcomes.
With these easy-to-follow SOPs, new and inexperienced employees have very clear instructions for how to perform a task and that guide them to required safety standards, regardless of their experience or role.
Onboarding is made easy when, first, managers can create custom SOP checklists for new hires using drop-down menus with step-by-step instructions and, second, when every employee can quickly access and follow SOPs directly on their mobile devices. By showing only the necessary steps based on the immediate task at hand, new hires avoid cognitive overload and confusion, correctly and safety executing the job every time.
Value-added multimedia and geolocation
Paper-and-spreadsheet inspection systems can’t include value-added multimedia asset that are critical to creating a complete picture of safety incidents. Digital platforms, on the other hand, allow you to easily upload photos and videos to any records you create. This means that not only can workers be guided by audio-visual material depicting safe procedures added to SOPs, they can also share multimedia with supervisors to check their work or show on-site conditions. Inspectors can then access and reference these assets when checking sites for safety and compliance. And with every digital record also automatically geotagged, you immediately know where remediation teams need to be dispatched, further strengthening and streamlining compliance.
Better analysis, insights, and decisions
Digital inspection software supplies you with a constant stream of safety data, always updated and accessible on mobile devices. Ready availability of all your incident reports and inspections records streamlines the information management for better decision-making.
When aggregated into dashboards, your accurate, timely data can be analyzed to make inspection or remediation decisions on the fly or, with the higher visibility it affords, see trends, and identify the root causes of emerging safety issues.
This one-stop view of the whole inspection process, alongside its individual parts, lets managers develop insights that further drives safety outcomes, like showing you where your team needs additional training to prevent future hazards. By consolidating organization-wide safety data and reporting, digital platforms empower a safety program that’s constantly evolving and improving.
Easier – and more complete – OSHA compliance
When SOPs can be customized to account for OSHA regulations before work even begins, digitization makes compliance easy. Work sites are safer, of course, but you are also assured your OSHA data is complete, accurate, and automatically available if it needs to be relayed at a moment’s notice.
Safety software can generate on-demand reports to meet OSHA’s reporting requirements on a scheduled basis as well as instantly created ad hoc to comply with OSHA requirements. For example, immediately after a serious injury, OSHA will launch a rapid response investigation to discover what safety procedures were in place, what training had been provided, and whether there were safety shortfalls that led to the incident. They will also likely want to review additional SOPs, safety documents, and raw data, all of which can be accessed on the spot by a cloud-connected safety platform that serves as a repository of your entire safety history.
Broader community reporting
Digital inspection platforms improve safety by broadening its reporting to your entire workforce. Accessing QR code technology on their devices, every employee can report safety issues or violations they witness or experience in the regular course of his or her day. Automation ensures that safety managers are notified right away so they can immediately kick off remediation.
By making it easier for everyone to report safety issues, platforms uproot the entrenched misconception that reporting on colleagues is “snitching” and redefine reporting as a proactive commitment rather than a reactive liability. Over time, this transforms safety into a shared, collective responsibility and creates an ongoing, lasting culture that equates safety with employee wellbeing – and business success.
More effective remediation and follow-ups
With all of your data updated and cloud-connected, real-time notifications and alerts keep decision-makers always in the loop about emerging safety problems, whether during actual work or inspections.
Such speed and visibility allow security managers to immediately create and assign remediation tasks, monitor their progress, and plan follow-up actions before any downstream safety hazards cause or worsen inefficiencies, injuries, or added costs and delays.
By closing the information gaps between issue identification and reporting, digital tools facilitate not just the timely remediation that ensures safety from individual hazards, but also the collaborative teamwork that is the bedrock of a robust safety program.
Making data multi-use
Beyond advanced dashboards, all of your inspection data can also be integrated into an array of back-end applications, including business intelligence (BI) platforms. Multi-use data allows leadership to connect the dots across the entire company and identify broader trends as they relate to safety and compliance. From this enterprise-wide, single-pane perspective, managers can focus on optimizing safety processes that also lead to better business outcomes, such as reducing accidents, or lowering insurance rates.
Efficient, instant report generation
Producing reports that demonstrate safety measures, inspections results, and program effectiveness is often an everyday part of a safety manager’s job. And digital platforms, having quickly and reliably collected your safety and inspection information, further streamline report generation by being able to instantly create a variety of reports in different formats – all without the need to transcribe data from paper to spreadsheet, spreadsheet to report, a data re-entry process that is time-consuming and susceptible to errors.
Timely, accurate reports can be produced and shared on the spot for any number or type of stakeholder – manager, client, or regulatory body–- to help monitor remediation efforts, prove the compliance of safety measures, and audit the overall effectiveness of your safety program.
Every journey starts with one step
Change isn’t just coming – it’s already here. According to McKinsey, the three most important technology trends currently disrupting businesses across all sectors are automation, connectivity, and cloud computing.
So before you get too far behind the digital curve or take shortcuts that compromise safety, remember that you don’t have to commit to massive reconstruction of your safety program overnight to see measurable results. Integrating Fulcrum’s field safety inspection software with your safety program helps you take a differentiated approach as you modernize, where you can easily start with even just one inspection process to demonstrate the return on investment and effectiveness of using digital field safety technology.
Ready to take the first step towards digital transformation of your safety program? Try Fulcrum free for 30 days and discover for yourself how a digital field safety inspection platform can reduce accident risk, improve performance, increase compliance, and prove the effectiveness of your safety program – sign up today!