If you’re a safety manager, it sometimes might feel as though the world is conspiring against you.
Now that crushing lockdowns are in the rear view, and supply chain woes are easing up, things can finally go back to normal.
But then the experienced workers you counted on retired, or left the industry, or just disappeared.
It’s not that bad. We’ve got enough work that we can just hire newer workers and train them. They’ll be cheaper too.
Except wages are rising at their fastest pace since the Federal Reserve Bank started tracking them in 1997 – a 6.2 percent average increase in just one year. Even worse, inexperienced workers are much more likely to be injured: nearly half of all workers injured on the job have less than a year of experience.
Maybe we can tempt a couple of our retired workers back, show the new kids the ropes.
Not a bad thought, except that “boomerang workers” (those that return to a job after resigning) earn about 25 percent more when they return.
There’s a lot of pent-up demand for what we do, and plus the infrastructure bill is going to have things going like gangbusters. We’ll do what we have to do, hire who we need to hire. We’ll be making enough money that it’ll be worth it.
Except now there is a threatened recession (many think there already is one). Hiring intentions fell to their lowest level since 2011, while job cuts have jumped 68 percent from September 2021.
At least OSHA has eased up a little over the past few years, and there are a lot fewer inspections. As long as I continue to keep my staff safe, I don’t have to worry so much about compliance.
Don’t count on it. Between the House and the Senate, OSHA is poised to receive at least a 10 percent increase in operating budget in 2023, while President Biden’s proposed budget calls for a staggering 49 percent increase in OSHA’s Standards and Guidance Division. In addition, OSHA has ramped up staffing initiatives, hiring 400 new employees in one month, including inspectors and whistleblower investigators.
I give up. What can be done?
Chin up! We’ve got the prescription for a lot of what ails you, simply in the form of a field safety inspection tool that helps you do more with less.
With digital field inspection software, inexperienced workers are steered in their tasks. Preloaded maps get them to the right place without guesswork. Step-by-step instructions lead them through what they need to do, with checklists for follow-along ease of use, and conditional fields only shown if they’re relevant.
Reference photos are included within the field inspection app to give the novice worker guidance in the field. And finally, once a task is done, the worker adds a photo to a record, and a manager hundreds of miles away can take a look to make sure everything looks as it should, reducing the likelihood of required do-overs.
With field safety inspection software, your workers don’t have to return to the office to upload, do data entry, or laboriously create reports from the data. In addition, as one of Fulcrum’s clients noted, report writing went from comprising about two-thirds of the inspection process to nearly zero – a huge bonus when it comes to compiling the information you need to keep on the good side of OSHA or any other regulator.
And as an offshoot of the less time benefit noted above, companies using a digital field safety inspection tool find they save enough time that they need fewer people to do the same (or more!) work. A Fulcrum client that performed pillar inspections for a utility discovered that with Fulcrum, it was able to increase its inspection rate by one-third with a staff reduction of one-third – in other words, getting 33 percent more work using 33 percent fewer employees!
As the adage goes, save time to save money. When you are saving time doing inspections and data collection in the field, a return on your software investment costs can be incredibly quick. For example, when one of our clients digitized its safety program, it realized the full cost of an annual subscription in one month’s time, using Fulcrum for only one application! The client enthusiastically moved onto other use cases, recognizing that there was no limit to what time – and cost – savings could be achieved with Fulcrum.
The silver lining
While the news might be more doom-and-gloom than you thought you’d be a year ago, it’s not all bad. With the unprecedented hurdles facing safety managers, there’s never been a better time to make the case for moving to digital field safety inspections, saving time, money, and headaches, and leaving you better equipped to handle whatever new challenges come your way.