Safety has always been important but never more so for businesses than during the past year. While the world struggled to combat the COVID-19 pandemic, the hard reality is that frontline workers faced severe health risks. For health and safety professionals, this meant increased pressure to keep their company’s workers safe. Sphera’s Safety Report 2021 shows heartening improvements in the overall safety culture. But it also points to a concerning gap between “Safety Intent” and the reality of safety practices. 75% of respondents said that safety is part of the corporate culture, but only 40% said they have a well-defined roadmap to improve safety performance.
Need For More Leading Indicator Data
To understand safety performance, accurate and up-to-date safety metrics are needed to capture risks by recording incidents, near-misses and safety-related observations. This brings us to our findings on how companies conduct incident reporting today: 56% report, in addition to incidents, near-misses and observations. 35% report incidents and near-misses. 27% report only incidents.
Safety metrics based on existing data need to be analyzed, acted upon, and learned from to improve safety performance, anticipate and prevent future incidents. There is a driving need to allow the complete workforce to report (Key #1). The benefit would be more leading indicator data that include near misses and behavioral-based observations in addition to incidents.
Call For Digital Tools For Incident Reporting and Data Analysis
The concerning gap between safety intent and reality is better explained when we look into the tools used to report incidents: 26% record events on paper only. 29% record events in Excel-based logbooks or similar apps. 43% record events with an appropriate software tool.
More than 50% of event data seems to be hidden on paper and in Excel documents rather than made available to all concerned parties across the organization. When only 43% of companies use software to report incidents, and only 40% of the complete workforce can report these events, we see why such a yawning gap exists.
Digitalization has immense potential to support nearly all mission-critical business processes. Why is there so little technology adoption for health and safety management processes? We found some more surprising facts: 49% adopted a software tool to increase efficiency in their health and safety program. 20% use health and safety management software to support automated data collection. 25% use analytics, and only 37% use structured actions and remediations.
Leading indicator data is key to preventing future incidents, which increases productivity and lowers costs (Key #2). But only 43% of companies record events with a software tool, only 20% use a health and safety management software tool to automate their data collection and only 25% use data analytics.
Based on the existing data of leading safety metrics, analytics tools must be used to drive learnings which are then incorporated back into the culture. (Key #3). Based on leading indicator data, information needs to be shared across the organization for collaboration and training that meets local and global needs. Analytics and leading indicators will drive safety performance together.
Increased Safety Performance Drives Business Performance
So, if it is clear that effective safety culture and efficient safety tools help ensure a healthy workforce, which results in enhanced business performance, why don’t more companies see the link between safety and business performance? Do some businesses still look at health and safety management as a cost factor rather than a major contributor to the overall business performance?
“The connection between a healthy workforce and superior marketplace performance is becoming increasingly clear. It is estimated that for every dollar saved in direct health care costs, employers save an extra $2.30 in improved performance or productivity.1“
How to prove that health and safety contribute to overall productivity and, therefore, to business performance? Will it help to use reliable, accurate, and up-to-date safety metrics that show your actual performance, progress and identify areas for improvement? Automation and digitalization are cost-effective ways to protect workers and keep profit margins strong.
Where to Begin?
SpheraCloud Health and Safety Management software is a powerful, integrated platform that enables automated data collection, provides an incident reporting tool for all employees across the entire organization and provides analytics for fast and informed decision-making. Based on the collected data, actions and remediations are set and training management is planned that is visible to all relevant stakeholders via insightful dashboards.
Author – Steve Tomlin