The speed of safety: How mobility accelerates EHS reporting


As a former safety manager for a large manufacturing site of 500 employees, I am aware of the time pressures connected with environmental, health, and safety reporting. When an incident occurs, the clock starts ticking. Speed of response matters for:

  • Investigation
  • Containment and corrective actions
  • Alerting all stakeholders and involved personnel
  • Reporting to governing agencies
  • Gathering information for analysis
  • Filling all recorded information as required

An efficient response leads to control, containment, and correction. Mobile reporting speeds up this entire process in a way simply not possible with paper reporting. I know – I spent years grappling with frustrating paper forms, and I have the gray hairs to prove it!

Our paper process

Whenever an accident occurred at our manufacturing site, I would grab a three-page paper accident investigation form and my camera. After taking care of any medical needs for the employee, we would begin filling out the form and collecting evidence. After recording all required information on paper, I would transfer it into an electronic format for analysis, reporting, and storage.

Our employees hated the paper accident forms. Worried about spelling and handwriting, they would use a minimalist approach, leaving out details. I would have to interview them later to fill in the gaps.

I would record the information in a database and track required information, such as:

  • Type of accident (muscle strain, laceration, contusion, etc.)
  • Location in factory and time
  • Corrective action and date of follow-up for proof of effectiveness

Mobile solutions enhance EHS reporting

New technology has opened the doorway to enhanced reporting. Mobile solutions, such as ProntoForms, allow safety professionals to swiftly collect, analyze, and share accurate EHS data, empowering them to meet – and even exceed – EHS compliance standards.

Users can capture pictures to help tell a more complete story and ensure key details aren’t missed. If users aren’t comfortable with free text, they can use audio capture for notes or to record interviews with affected employees.

Leading solutions increase the speed and accuracy of data collection via a wide range of features and capabilities. Instead of relying on manual data entry, users can select pre-populated responses from dropdown menus, button groups, and multi-select boxes.

It was always time-consuming for me to transfer written data to an electronic format. Mobile solutions eliminate redundant re-recording of information. As soon as a safety professional hits submit, the data is automatically uploaded to a back-office system for storage, analysis, and easy retrieval upon request. The information can be shared in real time with managers and anyone else who needs to be informed. This enables a faster dialogue between stakeholders – and a faster response.

Mobile solutions are better for injured employees

What I hated most about our old process was burdening an injured employee with filling out the needed paperwork. It was almost like punishing them for getting hurt.

We had already transitioned to mobile devices for reporting aspects of production and maintenance. Employees enjoyed using tablets for quickly recording and passing on information. We just had not made the transition to using digital tools for safety.

Mobile devices have achieved a level of acceptance in the field never reached by computers. Smartphones and tablets are a core part of our personal and professional lives. Automating forms on these devices is an easy transition, with little to no stress for employees.

The speed of safety

A swift response to a safety incident shows a high level of concern; it reveals a sense of urgency. Management may appear complacent about safety if a long time is needed to investigate and respond to safety incidents. This sends the wrong message to everyone involved. Nothing is more important than protecting those who do the work.

Mobile solutions allow for rapid data collection and real-time data sharing, streamlining the entire EHS investigation process. These tools enable a high level of visibility as well as a rapid response to safety breaches. Employees deserve nothing less.

How is your EHS management? Are you rocking it “old school” with paper forms, or are you making use of the advantages provided by digital forms on mobile devices?

Bryan McWhorterBryan McWhorter
This is a guest blog post from Bryan McWhorter. Bryan is a safety professional with eight years of experience in driving and teaching safety. He gained his knowledge and experience as the safety officer and Senior Trainer for Philips Lighting. Bryan was involved in creating a successful safety culture in a Philips Lighting factory of approximately 500 employees, the results being a 50 per cent reduction in OSHA recordable accidents in the first year.
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