For many companies, a drive to achieve zero accidents has had the opposite effect than intended: people are fearful to tell managers when something has gone wrong and sometimes penalised when reporting incidents. This is not the workplace culture that most companies intend to foster when they develop and implement reporting processes.
Matt Peaty, QSHEC Director at Salisbury Group, describes how the company tackled this problem by switching from a paper-based system to embrace mobile technology and in doing so, reduced administration time by over 50% and drove an upswing in near miss reporting.
“Like most FM companies, Salisbury Group had used a paper-based system to record safety and health incidents and near misses. Information was manually collated, analysed and processed. We would then turn the information into reports and manually review each of them for trends or recurrent problems.
When we reviewed our approach, we noticed that it was taking a long time to process incidents and also that we had a low number of near misses being reported. Even in the most safety-orientated organisations, near misses and accidents still occur. Human beings make mistakes and sometimes assets can malfunction and threaten safety and health.
We wanted to get an accurate picture of what was happening on our estates. Yet we did not want to dissuade people from taking the time to report near misses or incidents. So, we started by engaging with our staff base.
Firstly, we learned that when employees are given the right tools and trained in how to use them, they are more enabled to excel in their roles. Compiling paper reports was very time consuming and most employees disliked the process. Secondly, we learned that providing them with a simpler and quicker reporting tool would improve take up. The old system took almost 15 minutes to complete and we wanted to reduce it to less than two minutes. Finally, we learned that it was important to remove the possibility for employees to make mistakes during the reporting process. Previously, around 40% of reports had to be sent back to the originator because there was a mistake or a lack of necessary information filled in.
By fixing all of the above, we knew we would directly benefit our clients through a more positive and proactive safety and health culture on site.
With this mandate, we began researching the market. We looked at various options but the one that interested us most was a mobile-based application. The majority of our employees use tablets or mobiles in their day to day activities. We believed that if we chose the right system, we could achieve numerous benefits in one move.
We required an application that would not just work on multiple devices, but also without being connected to a mobile or wireless network. Our people work in some areas where there is no signal or a weak signal at best, so the ability to address this issues was of high importance. It was one of the defining features that led us to select a provider that offered us a highly flexible and easy-to-use platform, which could be customised by Salisbury Group to support our highly mobile and responsive business offering.
After a deep dive into the market, we commissioned LogIncident to develop a programme tailored to our specific requirements. This saw us replace the old system with a bespoke app.
The app itself is a fast and easy way to record, report and analyse incidents. A smart phone or device can capture information quickly and easily during or immediately following an incident. With our app, data is automatically sent from the device to a central database. It can then be analysed on a case by case basis. Managers are immediately made aware of an injury to a person.
We configured the app to let managers know who is logging the information, where the incident took place and what evidence is available to review, including photographs and videos. For us, the ease and ability to take photos of an incident on a smart phone was a large advantage over a paper-based system.
After testing the app, we introduced it in three phases. First, we installed it on our facilities managers’ device. Then, we rolled it out to our regional managers and engineers, and finally to other teams. We sent out introductory emails in advance, followed by soft copy manuals showing what each screen looked like, along with a list of FAQs. Fortunately, the system is intuitive and simple to use. Due to this, the implementation went very smoothly. Four weeks after running LogIncident in parallel with the existing system, we were no longer using paper to record incidents.
It was important to measure our success. A major reason for changing the system was to increase the number of incidents being reported. We believed that reducing cumbersome paperwork could lead to an upswing in reporting statistics. It did just that – with a big increase in the proactive reporting of near misses. The app is enabling us to identify more risks before they manifest into actual incidents.
We supplemented near miss reporting with a new category of ‘Positive intervention’. This option enables our staff to report when a risk has been identified yet would not be classified as a near miss. This new category encourages our staff to take an even more proactive approach to accident prevention. It has strengthened our drive to improve overall safety and health standards.
For managers, we configured a dashboard reporting tool that presents aggregated data for system-wide analysis. Report data is depicted in figures and diagrams according to type, region and status. This is a powerful monitoring tool for me and my team. It enables us to monitor what is happening on our estates and to report to clients with more accurate statistics and information. It has also reduced our use of paper!
The transformation we have achieved is helping us to embed a culture of proactive reporting, monitoring and closing out of safety and health risks. Using an app is fostering good employee behaviours and helping site teams to maintain safe environments, protect the health of building occupants, and more easily comply with industry regulations and best practice. It is really paying dividends for Salisbury Group, our staff and our clients.”
Six point summary
Salisbury Group’s bespoke app is innovative for six reasons:
- The ability to report an incident instantly at the time and location where it happened – even without a mobile signal available. Salisbury Group worked with the app provider to ensure that it could be downloaded to every employee’s phone and tablet; and that reports could be made with or without a signal available.
- The app has dramatically cut the time taken to log accidents or near miss incidents from 15-20 minutes (on the paper-based system) to under 90 seconds (on the app), not only saving operational staff time ‘in the field’, but also encouraging greater reporting of safety and health issues. In addition, administrative resources required to compile the paper safety reports have been cut by over 50%, as much of the data is now compiled automatically.
- Because every smart phone Salisbury Group uses has an in-built camera, photographs of the context of the incident can be included in the safety and health report quickly and simply. This provides managers with much more information than the traditional word-based report; and it also significantly cuts the descriptive quantity required in a report.
- Salisbury Group configured the app to include an additional safety and health category of ‘Positive Intervention’. This category that encourages staff to identify potential safety hazards before they become a near miss or an accident. This capability is beyond the industry standard of recording major and minor incidents and near misses.
- Few FM companies use this technology: its deployment for safety and health records and compliance is rare.
- It complements a changing staff base: ‘millennials’ are familiar and comfortable with using phone applications as part of their day-to-day working lives.
Key benefits in figures
Administration resources required to compile safety and health reports:
- Before – 1 administrator
- After – automated compilation of reports for review, saving at least 50% administration time
Number of staff with LogIncident app downloaded on their phone/tablet:
Near miss reporting:
- In the three months prior to introduction: 7 reported near miss
- In the three months following introduction: 23 reported near misses
- Before – 40% of paper reports were sent back to reporters for incomplete data to be filled in
- After – 100% of reports completed correctly (due to the compulsory requirements to fill in all fields before being allowed to send a report)
Time taken by staff to complete safety and health reporting:
- Before – 15 minutes per report; 50 reports would have taken over 12 staff hours
- After – 90 seconds; 50 reports take less than 1.25 staff hours, a 90% reduction