Environmental health and safety professionals should not spend half their week collecting data for workplace audits. Unfortunately, that’s often the case when they’re using traditional paper forms and email to conduct a safety audit. Their days often consist of continual followups with supervisors to obtain status updates and signoffs on corrective actions. They also may discover unsafe conditions later on because trends or issues were difficult to identify in the stacks of paper forms on their desks and in their email inbox. Digital auditing modules can help organizations resolve many of the difficulties they encounter with paper-based forms. Answers to these common questions will help safety decision-makers understand whether the transition to digital is right for them.
How do I know if an electronic safety audit is appropriate for my organization?
Obtaining safety data from the plant floor or the field shouldn’t take hours or even days to compile. But that’s often the case for organizations collecting information via traditional paperbased forms. Manual, hand-written audits typically leave safety professionals tracking down multiple pages of checklists and notes from various departments across the organization. As businesses and institutions grow, these old-fashioned processes become increasingly time consuming and inefficient. And the potential implications are serious. Manual audits are prone to errors and omissions that could leave hidden safety issues unchecked and ongoing problems unresolved. Common signs that paper-based forms have become unsustainable include an inability to obtain supervisory notes or signatures in a timely fashion, challenges identifying recurring safety issues or trends and difficulty resolving safety issues or verifying that they’ve been corrected.
How does an electronic safety audit address these challenges?
Electronic forms eliminate tedious, manual data gathering and enable more transparency into safety trends that may not be visible in traditional paper reporting. One of the key features of an electronic auditing system is the ability to aggregate data from multiple sources into standardized forms that are stored in a single cloud-based repository. Users can enter information from mobile devices via an app that allows them to easily enter safety data from the field. Having the data in one place allows organizations to access the information much more quickly, so they can spot safety deficiencies and check the status of required actions in real-time. Other important capabilities include the ability to attach photos that can be annotated, check the GPS location and include multiple signatures on a report. The system also has offline functionality so even when a device isn’t connected to the internet, users still have access to the information needed to complete an inspection or audit.
Why would I need GPS, photo sharing and digital signatures in a mobile reporting tool?
These features help safety managers make fast yet informed decisions about how to document compliance or a safety issue and track the progress of any corrective actions. For example, a safety manager can inspect a piece of equipment, take a picture of the safety issue, annotate the photo with additional information and then provide the GPS coordinates of the equipment. This information allows someone to understand what they need to address, what tools he or she may need to fix the problem and exactly where to go—all electronically and in real-time.
Can Mobile Forms integrate with workforce training/management systems?
Yes. The system is fully integrated with a workforce safety and management platform. This is essential for ongoing compliance and training purposes. On-the-job training includes a number of forms that can be integrated with the system, including progress checklists, standard operating procedures, process flows, machine schematics and job safety analysis. Typically these files are paper-based forms stored in various locations. However, in an electronic platform, users can store, curate and access them instantly. For example, a supervisor or mentor may need to sign-off on the completion of a safety training event. He or she can quickly locate the form in the system and sign it digitally on a tablet to signal that the task has been completed. Users also can zoom into machine schematics to help a machine operator understand how the machine operates and inherent risks.
Can a mobile safety tool help my organization reduce potential risks?
You can’t correct what you can’t see. A centralized, easily accessible record helps organizations track whether their workforce is properly educated on safety, assess unsafe behaviors and verify that problems are corrected. In addition to helping organizations improve workplace safety, it provides peace of mind to safety professionals that their organization is complying with regulations. For instance, users always have access to the most updated forms that reflect current standards. In addition, safety managers can enforce accountability because they immediately know who submitted a form, when they submitted it and where they submitted it. Form submissions also trigger an email notification of any safety deficiency, so the people responsible for correcting a problem receive an immediate alert and can take action.