Efficient Investigations of Safety Observations
By Susen Trail | 08/08/2021
This is the third installment of our series on Safety Observations. First, we discussed barriers to employee reporting which can result in a preventable hazard causing a near mis or an accident with employee injuries and/or property damage. Our second installment discussed how lack of transparency in the investigation and abatement of the hazard has multiple negative effects, the most significant being a barrier to employee reporting.
This installment discusses the components of an efficiently run investigation creating actionable results. As with the previous articles we will be using Simple Safety Coach's Safety Observation app as an example. When a Safety Observation is submitted, a notification is sent to the Safety Manager who opens the Observation and acknowledges it. This turns the dashboard status circle from red to clear.
Attachments can be made at any time during the investigative process and can be pictures, scanned receipts, affected employee statements, documents, pdf, word, etc. This ensures that all of the information related to the Observation are stored in one place that is accessible to all participants in the investigation at any time.
All related information will also be stored with the Observation when the investigation is closed so it can be used to abate similar hazardous conditions in the future. Or used to look for other options if the abatement is not efficient and the Observation is reopened. The Observation can also be used to show your insurance company positive action towards reducing hazards, possibly earning a lower MOD rate in the future.
Simple Safety Coach is set up to allow employees with permission to participate in the investigation. It is set up this way because not all employees with good ideas for a particular hazard reduction want to be on the Safety Committee. It also provides an employee with recurring noncompliance issues with the opportunity to gain a better understanding of how a safe workplace benefits him/her while they are in the facility.
The first order of business in the investigation is to decide whether an immediate Interim Measure needs to be set in place. This is something that will protect employees temporarily but is not viable for the long term.
Because Simple Safety Coach has been developed to reduce the work by providing participation pathways for many hands, we added a "Checkout" feature. When a participant is working in the Observation providing an update or adding an attachment, they first click on Checkout so that the information is saved. While the Observation is checked out no one else can add anything but those with permission can see the whole report. If the participant forgets to click on Check In the Safety Manager can open the observation and click on Override Checkout.
Most of you are familiar with finding the Overt and Root cause of an unsafe condition, for the rest of you an Overt cause is obvious, the reason a person slipped is because they stepped on ice. A Root cause is why the ice is in that particular spot where someone could step on it. You can sand or salt the ice as much as you want but, until you change how the water got there and froze in the first place, you will always have to buy the sand or salt and pay someone to apply it and clean it up.
This is where having input from all interested parties without having to take them away from their work to sit in the same room gives you maximum access to the best mental resources with minimal impact on production! Not only that, it gives you access to employees on the 2nd and 3rd shifts who may not be able to participate without coming in on their off hours. In fact, if an employee at another facility had information to share it is possible to bring them on as a participant in the investigation.
Once the investigation has reached a decision for the Preventive Action the implementation is assigned to an employee who will either do it him or herself or oversee the ordering of parts and/or contractors. A date by which the work should be completed is identified by the Safety Committee or Safety Manager. This date can be moved up or back, depending on conditions.
On that completion date, unless notified that it has been changed, a different employee is assigned to verify that the hazard has been prevented and the investigation is complete. Such as going to the door with the icy walkway problem, looking up to see if the gutter has been repaired or replaced. If so, he or she can go back to the Observation and close it. The circle on the dashboard gets a green checkmark.
Our next installment will show how Simple Safety Coach’s software will help you move the measure of your Safety Culture from lagging to leading metrics!
You can get information about other Simple Safety Coach's capabilities on our website. We would love to demonstrate and/or discuss our Safety Observation reporting process at any time. You can reach us via our Contact Page.