E-forms and software use data to
improve safety and operations
Elizah Hulseman - January 11, 2019
Heavy civil construction work carries safety risks, and anyone who’s spent even a day on the job likely recognizes diligence is important to staying safe.
But outside of relying on just the personal responsibility inherent in preventing both minor and serious accidents, heavy civil construction companies can do a lot at the management level to minimize safety hazards.
Advancements in electronic forms and construction software solutions make it easy to identify safety trends and be proactive in preventing injuries or incidents. Instead of reporting injuries after they happen and trying to apply those lessons in the future, your company can be forward-thinking by eliminating issues before they become larger problems.
This capability is far less possible using paper-based processes, which require manually sifting through records and forms to find correlations. Everyone is busy, and in heavy civil construction, things are just getting busier. Most companies don’t have time for tedious, manual efforts like data entry and record sorting, and if they do attempt these tasks, there’s a higher risk of error.
The Need for Greater Safety Measures in Heavy Civil Construction
Largely due to the diverse workplace locations and varying scopes of projects that can involve exposure to harmful environments or substances, equipment accidents, or explosions, serious or fatal injuries are higher on heavy civil construction job sites.
Fortunately, construction companies are making sweeping improvements to workplace safety, including the adoption of mobile technologies that provide field crews with instant access to project details, safety regulations, hazard mitigations, and insights from previous or similar work.
Safety professionals argue that safety tracking using technology isn’t just a trend, but something all construction companies should be adopting. The key benefit is that information is entered and accessed in real time and by the right people.
The Limitations of Paper in Safety Trend Tracking and Compliance
If your company has yet to adopt specialized heavy civil construction software, this inaction may become problematic at some point.
For one thing, OSHA compliance is imperative, and following safety protocols across your organization, as well as having the right documentation and reports available following an accident, can prevent significant fines.
Because OSHA requires documentation of all safety-related activities or incidents, a software solution is especially helpful if your company needs to validate that a worker involved in an accident did, in fact, complete the required safety training. Capturing this information on paper forms can be risky since paper is far more unreliable.
Secondly, trend tracking can go a long way in preventing serious injuries or accidents. For example, if several crew members are injured in the same way using the same piece of equipment but at different job sites over several weeks, paper records provide no easy way to immediately identify that trend and act to fix the issue.
Additionally, you may also identify an accident trend involving a single person, alerting you that they may need additional training.
Considering our earlier point that companies don’t have the time or resources for tedious, manual data analysis, it makes sense that accident or injury trends could go unnoticed for months or longer, all the while costing your company in more ways than one.
Even with a dedicated individual to manually input data, paper safety forms can be easily misplaced, lost, or damaged, putting the information in jeopardy.
Companies that rely on paper forms, phone calls, or emails for daily crew safety briefings, training, equipment inspections, operations journals, risk and safety scorecards, or near-miss or injury reports leave gaping holes preventing trend tracking and data analysis.
Electronic Forms Put Your Safety Information to Work
Imagine how much easier it would be for your contractors to look at their tablets and see past safety information for the job site they’re working and safety standards to enforce during the job. The field crews will be safer and more accountable, and if an injury does occur, a coordinated response is set in motion.
Here are a few specific ways a software solution enables trend tracking and analysis to help improve your company’s safety processes:
- When an injury occurs in the field, simply checking a box on the electronic form immediately notifies designated individuals. When safety managers, foremen, superintendents, and equipment operators can see the injuries in real time, it creates a greater awareness and incites action.
- Accident and injury data is automatically aggregated and analyzed within the software to identify trends and alert relevant individuals when a trend is spotted. Knowing a certain injury has occurred several times, for example, helps bring attention to a situation that needs improvement.Reports and dashboards make the data easy to digest and help you discover important insights in the sea of information your company generates each day.
- Capture and send higher-quality, more detailed and more accurate safety information in real time to the right people, keeping everyone more accountable and engaged in working to improve the safety of their job environments.
The primary benefit of dedicated software for heavy civil construction projects is giving the right people access to the right information at the right time.
When you migrate to electronic forms, you can keep people better informed about safety conditions in the field and make smarter decisions about how to best protect your workers.