A key aspect of any data collection has to do with its intake: Industrial Automation benefits from sentient electronic sensors, uploading the information directly to a server, the Financial industry has implemented massive system integration between disparate systems and networks, and Logistics organizations often utilize robotics and optical coding to track distribution progress. These important advances are made possible not only due to technological prowess and financial investment, but also due to the generally objective, at times binary nature of the data collected: What was the pressure reading on the gauge? How much cash remains in the ATM? Has the package been delivered?
Unfortunately, when it comes to recording Workplace Incidents, Employers do not enjoy this luxury. The kind of information which needs to be collected during adverse workplace events is an amalgam of data types and viewpoints, ranging from the strictly objective, such as “Time and Place”, to the highly subjective “What exactly happened”. This is especially true when documenting incidents which may include an employee injury (Beyond First Aid, First Aid Only, and For Record Only) or those in which Human Error may have played a part, such as a Near Miss, Utility Strike or other Property Damage. The ability to combine straight facts with narratives and supporting evidence (such as photographs) is paramount, as well as doing so in a manner that lends itself to downstream information-sharing needs, such as a Risk Manager’s review, an Insurance Carrier’s claim processing, or an OSHA form or State’s First Report of Injury (FROI), without employing error-prone data re-entry.
Surprisingly enough, the vast majority of workplace on-site exception event documentation is still conducted using old-school forms, and mostly paper-based at that.
Forms are a notoriously difficult method with which to collect complex data-sets such as Worksite Incidents. They require entry of static information which can be readily provided as a default (such as Names, Dates, Times and Locations), the do not not enforce a data-collection sequence (a significant contributor to poor data quality and accuracy), they are not equipped to handle narratives and, if they are paper-based, they require the reporter to start off by first locating a clean, blank form, in itself not a simple task, at times… We have all completed hundreds of forms: School applications, medical office paperwork, IRS 1040 returns, the list is endless. Ask yourselves: have you ever encountered a form that made you appreciate it, bask in the glory of its perfect layout, or enjoy filling it out? Thought so. This is true for both paper- and device-based forms: They are counter-intuitive and problematic to use for one overarching reason – they were designed for the presentation of information, as opposed to its collection.
Notable architect Louis Sullivan, the “Father of Skyscrapers”, famously coined the phrase “Form follows function”. I have no doubt that if the great building designer was still among us he would have wholeheartedly endorsed our premise that “Forms Don’t Function” (taking into account the thousands of hours he must have spent in job sites). And what was true for construction in the Gilded Age remains true today: There’s always a better way.
An electronic workflow application creates a sequenced intake procedure, guiding the user through an optimal data-collection pathway, effectively neutralizing the proverbial “Paper Dragon” and delivers numerous advantages and benefits:
Eliminates the need for worksite paper forms
Prompts the user through the optimal data-collection sequence
Supports narratives, both written and recorded
Pre-loads default data, increasing accuracy
Encourages copious incident-related photography
Communicates information instantaneously
Populates a database in support of comparison and analysis
Device-based apps tend to be intuitive and obvious to use, requiring little instruction and promote broad, daily usage, particularly in reporting low-severity safety concerns which would “normally” not merit the effort in filling-out and submitting a form, but documentation of which can be vital to nipping them in the bud. Instead of weighing the value of a report vs. the time and energy required to complete a form, with a few quick clicks even the most minor of all exception events can be recorded, reported, and addressed, empowering a true “See it, say it” safety culture. In aggregate, electronic workflows represent a reduced operating cost, in comparison to paper-based operations.
I invite you to visit us at www.compatica.com and learn more about our innovative Workplace Incident Recording solution, which implements obvious-use expert-developed workflows that reduce cost, promote accuracy, and engender timeliness in worksite exception event recording.