Workplace incidents are far more numerous and costly than most people realize. The National Safety Council estimates that the average cost of a medically consulted injury in 2015 was $31,000. The average cost of a fatality, $1 million. That year, on-the-job injuries numbered approximately 4.4 million. 4,190 on-the-job fatalities were reported.
In many cases, workplace incidents are also entirely preventable. As pointed out in the EHS Today article “Sustainable Safety Management: Incident Management as a Cornerstone for a Successful Safety Culture”, studies show that a significant number of workplace accidents occur “as the consequence of minor lapses, and usually of not just one lapse but the sequence of minor failures. A combination of minor lapses can create a safety gap that can lead to major accidents.”
An effective approach to incident management is one that encourages reporting of all workplace incidents. Risk managers and safety leaders can then draw from that information to identify, analyze, and correct hazards with the goal of preventing future occurrences.
Barriers to effective incident management
Incident management programs often fall short when it comes to their potential to serve as the foundational driver of safety and loss control. The specific reasons for this vary from organization-to-organization. In terms of the technology used for the collection and analysis of incident data to determine root causes and follow up with corrective actions, reasons commonly include:
- Paper-based reporting limits timely responses increases the likelihood of data inaccuracies and restricts insightful analysis
- Disparate systems or processes result in an inability to aggregate data and gain an enterprise-wide understanding of the hazards facing the organization as a whole
- A lack of transparency and ownership resulting from the way investigation and corrective actions are assigned and tracked
The result of these and other shortcomings are all-too-often the same—an increased likelihood of injuries that otherwise may have been prevented.
How a RMIS incident management solution helps
A RMIS can contribute to the transformational success of an organization’s approach to incident management in a number of ways. These include:
- Improving the timeliness of incident reporting and accuracy of incident data
- Streamlining incident-related communications and workflows
- Enhancing the ability to analyze data, spot trends, and take strategic actions to prevent losses
An increase in the number of incidents reported (in addition to more accurate details), means issues can be quickly investigated and root causes determined. With the appropriate corrective actions put into place, injuries are reduced or eliminated.
Reporting incidents via online portal or mobile device
By making incident intake forms readily available and easy to complete, supervisors and employees will be more likely to report incidents quickly and accurately, regardless of where they occur.
Intake forms can be configured using items such as required fields, drop-down lists, and dynamic field population that ease data entry for users while also improving data quality. In comparison to paper-based reporting, the likelihood of data inaccuracies resulting from keying errors or illegibility are substantially minimized since details do not have to be entered manually into the system.
With the right RMIS, users can enter incident details into forms accessible from a secure online portal. For on-site intake of the details related to incidents occurring at job-sites where there is no internet connection, incident details can be captured using a mobile device. This incident data is encrypted and can be uploaded later when an internet connection is available.
While data from paper forms may take days or weeks to be keyed into a system, incidents details entered via an online portal or uploaded from a mobile device is immediately available for analysis. In a RMIS, incident data can also be used to trigger notifications and workflows.
Automating incident workflows and streamlining communications
Having good data is important, yet it is only part of the equation. As an Origami Risk blog post outlining the ways in which a RMIS can help facilitate communication-related to safety hazards makes clear, “An organization must also use its data to spur appropriate actions and make an impact.”
Automation of incident-related workflows reduces administrative overhead and ensures that processes are kept on track. For example, when an incident is entered into the system, OSHA reporting can be initiated, and a location’s safety manager can be alerted to the need to perform an investigation. Based on the root cause analysis outcomes, corrective actions can then be assigned automatically.
A RMIS such as Origami Risk also makes it possible to create and store email templates in the system for use in assignment and requests for clarification. Incident-related messages sent to and from the system are logged by incident, making it easy to find communications that would otherwise lay buried in email inboxes.
Identifying trends and monitoring effectiveness
A configurable RMIS can help drive accountability and ensure incident-related tasks stay on track by creating customized, role-specific dashboards. For example, a dashboard can be created that displays the due date of corrective actions to be completed by facility managers, a list of risk assessments assigned to a supervisor’s team members, or a high-level view of all completed, in progress, or past due investigations.
Reports and integrated data analysis tools make is possible to spot trends and view the effects of corrective actions on specific locations or across the enterprise. For example, users can easily produce incident reports by top causes or drill-down to specific incidents by type and by location.
Promoting a culture of safety by actively engaging users in incident management processes
An effective approach to incident management requires a flexible technology solution. Origami Risk provides just that. With configurable intake tools designed to encourage the accurate and timely reporting of workplace incidents, data can be put to work identifying, analyzing, and correcting hazards. And by actively engaging the users in these processes, Origami Risk, can also play a role in promoting a culture of safety throughout any organization.