Q&A - Safety Software
My boss wants to know how software programs can help lower our injury rates. He does not understand the connection. How can I explain this to him?
ANSWERS:What if you were to use your spreadsheet or database programs to look at the average cost per workplace injury and to make comparisons by supervisor and by department? Or how well supervisors meet deadlines for completing their safety tasks? Donâ€™t forget: If senior management reviews and acts on safety statistics, their interest shows safety matters.
Debra Levin, Writer/Analyst, CCH, Inc.
Safety and health software programs help management identify both positive and negative safety trends. This is especially helpful to make the best use of your safety budget. With the information gleaned from safety software, management can develop clear strategies and formulate objectives to plan for safety success.
Another benefit: Most safety software systems can track and graphically illustrate past experience and current improvement in safety performance.
Donald E. Rhodes, Ph.D., REA, Broadspire NATLSCO Risk and Safety Services Group
Incidents and injuries rarely occur the first time an employee does something. Usually they are the result of repeated incorrect actions. Identifying those actions or behaviors and correcting them before a close call or injury occurs is what reduces your injury rates.
A well-designed database application permits insight as to the â€œwhat, where and whyâ€ of incidents and injuries so appropriate corrective action can be taken to prevent recurrences.
Good software tracks basic incident information; doesnâ€™t permit mixing incompatible data; and has in-depth analytical capability to provide good information for incident and injury prevention decision-making, all of which leads to lower OSHA rates.
Harry L. Smith, Founder & CEO, Safety SoftwareÂ®, Inc.
A complete EHS information management software solution can track all aspects of an injury, including direct and indirect costs. Software can identify injury trends within an organization by facility, department, shift or even down to a specific manager who has a greater propensity for incidents.
Over time trends will emerge showing where your organization can spend its loss control dollars to achieve the greatest effect on reducing injuries. Software can provide reports that allow management to understand costly trends and efficiently take actions that prevent injuries and save money.
But as many safety and health professionals understand, sometimes your loss control dollars should be directed at higher-cost injuries rather than injuries that occur at higher rates. This at first seems less than humane, but the result is quite the opposite. Reducing injuries at higher cost returns a tremendous savings â€” which can then be applied toward preventing injuries that occur at higher rates.
Mark Odian, Director, Marketing and Sales, Knorr Associates Inc., www.KnorrAssociates.com
Injury rates cannot be lowered without first identifying and then correcting the causes. Software provides the infrastructure for finding and analyzing the safety hazards, near misses, injuries and claims in order to know how to remedy the causes.
For example, Web-based audit and tracking software accesses and organizes data from multiple facilities. You can easily identify and analyze outlying processes to determine why the injury rate in Plant A is higher than Plant B. With corrective action tracking software, results can then be managed and corrected to reduce injury rates.
Arlene Davidson, Marketing Director, Dakota Software Corporation
Letâ€™s talk about computer-based training (CBT). The two main advantages of CBT for increased learning comprehension are:
- Self-paced learning
â€œZone outâ€ rates are much higher in a classroom setting where there is no interaction and the learning experience is not engaging. Interactions also provide frequent positive reinforcement to encourage the student and increase the studentâ€™s interest. CBT should encompass all modes of learning (visual, auditory and tactile) to reinforce the lessons and increase comprehension and retention.
Self-paced learning allows the student to train at their own schedule and comprehension level. Different people learn at different rates, and use different learning methods to retain information. The classroom setting provides an instructor-led pace, which may be too slow or too fast for some students.
Other benefits: consistent delivery of training, recordkeeping functions and increased flexibility in scheduling employee training.
Bryan Hornik, Sales Director, Summit Training
Analytical reports might show that a large number of back strains are coming from a certain area, department or occupation. This discovery could facilitate changes that prevent additional back strains from occurring.
Software makes it easy to check and see that every incident is investigated. Then, if warranted, corrective actions can be assigned and tracked to completion.
The effectiveness of return-to-work and medical case management programs can be enhanced by using software to manage the tasks and processes associated with these programs.
Mark V. VerMeulen, VP Sales & Marketing, PerDatum Inc.
Computer software programs allow safety professionals to break away from the old pen-and-paper routine and use a more accurate, efficient and flexible process. For example, using software for safety audits and to track injury and illness recordkeeping can help take the work and worry out of complying with OSHAâ€™s requirements.
Some advantages of using software programs:
- Fewer errors â€” No mistakes due to data entry error from paper to personal computer.
- Standardization â€” Different departments can use the same software and get uniform results.
- Keep current on regulatory changes â€” Most software programs can be updated so the user is aware of regulatory changes.
- Customization â€” Ability to manipulate data and information for customized reports.
Mark H. Stromme, Associate Editor, J.J. Keller & Associates
Software that addresses the development of personal protective equipment (PPE) programs can assist management in compiling and standardizing information on environmental hazards so that their impact is reduced or eliminated. Specifically, software can help to reduce injury rates by allowing management to pinpoint root causes for injury and associate PPE to each job task â€” as well as allow management to develop training programs to avoid such hazards.
Ray Richeson, Sr. Vice President and General Manager, ESS - provider of Compliance Suite
Recordkeeping software probably will not reduce injuries, but the newer safety process management or accountability software may.
For safety performance to excel, safety must be imbedded in the processes of an organization. If software can make these processes more efficient, free up staff time, uncover injury trends, provide more accurate and timely data, and drive performance through accountability measures, then workplace safety should improve.
Involving, assisting, measuring and motivating management are the keys to success. Software that defines management responsibilities, provides instruction and information, assists and motivates action, sets targets for completion and then measures performance is worth the investment.
Rick Pollock, President, CLMI
Tracking injuries using software allows you to quickly identify incident trends and analyze incident data. With this tool, you are better able to allocate resources to programs that lower incident rates.
On the preventative side, some software packages manage recalls of employees for training and medical surveillance. This increases the level of confidence that staff is both trained and medically fit for the jobs they do. Again, the result is lower incident rates.
Integrated disability management holds an even greater advantage by allowing your organization to institute return-to-work programs that match the employeeâ€™s capabilities with productive tasks â€” lowering the number of lost work days that could impact experience rates.
Brad Kerr, Senior Account Manager, Medgate, Inc.