Takeaway: Data collection tools will help you to better organize what seems like endless paperwork. Between training, audits, and preventing incidents, it is easy to become overwhelmed with safety-related data. By inputting everything into a system, you not only will save time and energy, but you will be able to get a better picture of safety in your workplace.
Safety professionals are often tasked with gathering and analyzing data. Between OSHA record-keeping requirements, incident investigations, and trying to minimize risk, data collection can quickly become a time-consuming part of your job. But gathering data doesn’t have to take all of your attention away from other important tasks. Data collection tools can help you gather information more efficiently and with greater accuracy.
This article takes a look at how data collection tools can help you make more developed safety decisions and, in turn, build a strong safety culture.
OSHA Data Collection Rules
OSHA regulations require keeping a detailed record of all work-related injuries and illnesses using their 300, 301, and 300A logs. Each serves a different purpose:
- OSHA 300 – Ongoing log of all injuries and illnesses in your workplace. Includes brief description of injury, any days of work lost, work restrictions, and categorizes into types of injuries
- OSHA 300A – Summary of the OSHA 300 log. It tallies up all of the injuries to give you a better view of days away from work, number of each type of incident, and other important information
- OSHA 301 – Injury and illness incident report. It is used to record and report all recordable incidents to OSHA.
In addition to recording lagging indicators like incidents, accidents, and near misses, it is extremely important to keep a detailed record of any training your employees have completed. You can have your employees trained to a T, but if you don’t have record of it, it will cause some headaches when it comes time to prove that you are in compliance. Data management software can help keep all of your training records compiled in one, easy-to-access location.
Software can also help track when training needs to be refreshed, and help you figure out what initial training new employees need. Training itself can be extremely time-consuming, so by cutting out the time it takes to manually input all of your training data, you will have more time to focus on everything else.
Audits are vital for keeping your workplace safe and seeing areas that need improvement. Data management software makes it incredibly easy to perform audits, while making sure you don’t miss anything.
Software solutions can also allow you to send out work orders as soon as you see the need for them. If you identify an issue while performing an audit, you can send the work order right away instead of simply making a note to do so at a later time.
These instant work orders can help hold everyone accountable. You will always have access to a digital paper trail of issues, who is responsible to remedy them, and what actions they took. This will give everyone that extra push to get things done.
Six Benefits of Using Data Collection Tools
- Identifying the most common injuries
One of the ways that data collection tools can help make your job a little easier is by showing you what the most common injuries in your workplace are. It’s true that you can gather this information from your OSHA logs, but automating the process will eliminate errors and make your job easier in the long run. Any step of the process you can make more efficient will allow you to focus more of your energy on developing a safer workplace.
- Determining the root causes of incidents
Let’s face it, performing accident investigations can be overwhelming. Every accident is different, and it is easy to want to group accidents into categories that they may not actually fit into. By analyzing the data for you, data collection tools can help you readily determine the root causes of incidents and gives you more insight into the real issue.
- Finding accident-prone groups
Is there a certain job or work station that has a higher occurrence of accidents? Maybe even a certain employee or two?
By identifying accident-prone groups, you can narrow your focus, use your resources more wisely, and take care of a large portion of your accidents with less effort.
- Developing better safety systems and culture
As mentioned above, data collection tools let you create work orders as soon as you see a problem and hold employees accountable for the issues they need to address. It’s easy to see something needs to be done, and then either forgetting about assigning the task to someone or not being sure who to assign it to.
By having work orders integrated right into your data collection system, you can assign tasks wherever you are, and you can make sure they are completed. This makes it easier to assess accountability which in turn creates a better safety culture by involving everyone and having them see how their actions and tasks directly impact safety in your workplace.
- Higher Accuracy
By collecting data directly into a smartphone or tablet, you eliminate the added step of transcribing data from you paper records into a computer. And by eliminating this step, you reduce the risk of human error.
A software solution can also make sure all the data is collected when it needs to be. In other words, it won’t let you skip a field and you won’t be trying to remember the details later when you realize you need that information.
Finally, by entering the data directly into a system, you don’t have to worry about misplacing the paperwork. I actually had this happen to me once. I misplaced a sign-in sheet from a safety training session and I was left without any proof that the workers had been trained. It took a lot of time and energy for me to figure out how to recover from that mistake – time and energy that would have been put to better use if data collection tools had my back.
- Scheduled maintenance
Data collection software lets you know when your tools and equipment are due for maintenance and makes sure each is inspected regularly. Having this kind of fool-proof system in place can prevent serious incidents. The last thing you want is to let your fall protection equipment or heavy equipment lose their effectiveness thanks to wear and tear.
Streamline Your Data Collection and Improve Workplace Safety
With all of this information in your database, you will be able to get a better view of your workplace and significantly reduce human error in your safety management.
Using data collection tools, then, won’t just make your job more efficient; it will also keep everyone a lot safer.