"In The News" - Software-Driven Safety: A Smarter Approach to Data Collection and Analysis

Read the article in the CFMA Bottom Lines magazine

July 2016

By: Richard Humphrey, B2W Software

Job-site safety has improved in parallel with advances in technology, and that’s no coincidence. Construction companies have been quick to embrace design changes that have made their equipment assets safer to operate. Now, software technology offers an opportunity to optimize another asset in their efforts to prevent accidents and injuries: data.

Dozens and sometimes hundreds of forms are used to collect information related to safety, risk and compliance. However, crucial data that could be available in real time, aggregated and leveraged to improve safety often remains siloed, unstructured and trapped within static, paper documents.

Rather than using forms only to document what has happened, smarter companies can leverage them to predict and prevent what may happen. The key is a strong enterprise-wide software platform for data capture and analysis with three foundational elements:

Advanced Form-Template Generation

Driving safety with a software-based system begins with the ability to create customized forms in minutes. Simple, intuitive technology saves time in creating forms used for safety training, accident or injury reporting, near misses, inspections and other safety-related applications. The system should also take advantage of mobile technology, allowing electronic documents to capture rich data like photos and videos, e-signatures, time stamps, GPS coordinates and weather – sometimes automatically. This increases the value while decreasing employee time and effort.

Streamlined Processes for Data Collection

A software program for collecting safety-related information electronically and in a standardized manner across the enterprise increases overall efficiency as well as the quality and timeliness of the data. A cloud-based solution with browser access can streamline the processes related to publishing and managing forms and allow employees to access and submit them anywhere, anytime and with any device. Electronic forms can be linked to databases and back-end business systems. This increases accuracy and it improves efficiency, as employees spend far less time looking for, filling out, transmitting and processing forms.

A Business Intelligence Engine

Typically, construction companies file paper forms for documentation or compliance purposes or they go through arduous manual efforts to compile the information into reports. Lag time in receiving data, and limited reporting capabilities prevent the optimization of data as a safety tool. With a more effective software-based solution, comprehensive safety information can be captured and communicated in real-time and converted into valuable alerts, reports and dashboards automatically.

When a foreman reports an injury and its cause, the form can trigger an alert delivered by text or e-mail. Instead of going into a file and emerging weeks later in a report, the instantly available information could prevent a similar accident at another job site.

Similarly, structured data from forms and other electronic sources can be pulled into custom or ad-hoc reports and dashboards. Those tools incorporating aggregated safety data allow managers to identify trends – a vital weapon in predicting and preventing accidents and injuries.

Getting the right information to the right people at the right time is a critical objective as construction companies strive to empower their employees to make better decisions, optimize performance and drive profitability. That strategy should apply to safety as well, and an enterprise software solution for data capture and analysis leveraging the latest cloud, mobile, data and business intelligence technologies can deliver a compelling return on investment.

Richard Humphrey is VP of Marketing for B2W Software in Portsmouth, NH, where he drives business and marketing strategies, with a focus on enhancing market presence and customer communication. He has more than 20 years of marketing and product management experience, and also brings over 15 years of AEC/Heavy Civil industry knowledge. He can be reached at rhumphrey@b2wsoftware.com.

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