Digital advances in the construction industry
Digital construction is becoming far more ingrained in the built environment, with business process automation at the forefront of streamlined processes. QHSE workflows and management approval processes are utilised in many departments, including procurement teams issuing purchase orders, design teams automating the steps to approve drawings and quality control teams managing inspection and test procedures.
Health and safety naturally lends itself to automated business processes, with incident reporting and near miss, good catch practice forms being significantly improved through automation.
Safety and the construction industry
Construction is a high-risk industry. Busy construction sites are full of potential hazards. Over the past two decades, there have been vast improvements in the safety performance of construction companies. This has come from legislation, improvements in construction methods and an increase in internal health and safety management systems.
Implementing digital QHSE workflows
With more and more companies going digital, it is imperative to introduce automated systems and workflow software into your business processes to demonstrate current safety practices and keep up with competition.
Incident reporting guidelines and procedure
Traditionally, incident reporting was reactive and tended to use only prior incidents as the basis for review. The incidents may have only been recorded through phone calls or meetings and a note in the accident book, without any real health and safety quality control.
Standard industry guidance for managing health and safety sets out incident reporting guidelines to those implementing arrangements in their organisation. One of the common features of industry guidance is to ‘Plan, Do, Check, Act’ . This can be implemented through an automated construction incident reporting process.
Construction incident reporting tools
A standard incident reporting procedure will normally involve specific incident reporting tools such as a form to fill in and a process to follow to escalate the incident to management, depending on the severity. A digital workflow and process automation result in reduced process failure, as there is less reliance on employees to take positive action, such as making phone calls and sending emails.
Legislation and incident reporting
Legislation can vary from country to country, but generally places a duty of care upon those working in construction to manage their own health and safety and the health and safety of those around them so far as it is reasonable. More information on this can be found on the relevant government website for your region.
There are numerous regulations that you must be aware of, which include things such as lifting operations, personal protective equipment, control of hazardous substances and incident reporting guidelines. Compliance with legislation can be automated through online forms and QHSE workflows.
Forward-thinking companies use business process automation for effective audits of construction sites for compliance with laws, regulations and good industry practice. This can identify strengths and opportunities for improvement, which can improve overall health, safety and quality on construction sites. It can also highlight areas for immediate concern and expedite corrective action.
Why is your safety incident reporting procedure important?
Incident reporting workflow and procedure is incredibly important to any construction business from an ethical, statutory and profit point of view. Accidents are bad for business and most clients will ask for accident history when tendering for any work.
If there is no incident reporting system, it becomes difficult to learn from past mistakes and implement changes to avoid recurrence. This would be viewed adversely in any accident investigations or prosecutions.
The ‘Check’ stage is recommended when managing health and safety which requires measuring of performance and investigating accidents, incidents and near misses. Therefore, an incident reporting workflow needs to be in place for incidents to be reported, which captures the required details for escalation to the appropriate level of management.
The procedure must also be able to identify trends. For example, minor hand injuries may not require serious escalation, but a large number of reported minor hand injuries could signal a worrying trend and require investigation to understand if there is a pattern emerging.
What could happen if your safety incident reporting procedure isn’t working?
Many countries have strict rules on the reporting of incidents. For example, the U.K. has Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 2013, Ireland has Safety, Health and Welfare at Work (Reporting of Accidents and Dangerous Occurrences) Regulations 2016 and the U.S. has the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 where reporting is detailed in Section 8.
Where regulations set out minimum reporting timelines for specified injuries, dangerous occurrences and occupational diseases, an effective safety reporting process is critical to ensure that these issues are captured and reported in the statutory timescales.
Kianda software is easily tailored to meet specific laws and regulations, and readily adaptable to any changes in legislation as they occur.
An example of an incident report required by these regulations would be if a scaffolding collapsed in Ireland, which must be reported to the Health and Safety Authority in ten days, or risk prosecution. In the U.K., an incident such as this would need to be reported immediately.
Inefficiencies and inaccuracy in safety reporting can be fatal.
According to the Health and Safety Authority, in 2019 a total of 46 deaths occurred within the workplace with 12 people on constructions sites alone.
“Construction workers engage in many activities that may expose them to hazards, such as falling from a height, unguarded machinery or being struck by construction equipment”
In order to reduce the number of accidents in the work-place, incident reporting should be prioritized and consistent with every incident.
Fatalities must be reported and even near-misses so that workers can implement different and new methods to reduce to likelihood of an accident in the future.
If you don’t report a reportable occurrence to the appropriate health and safety enforcement agency, there can often be a custodial prison sentence for the responsible person, or persons and a large fine for the business.
Learning from incidents reduces the risk of recurrence (and the severity if they do reoccur) and is key to keeping workers safe and incident free. This in turn contributes to keeping a business profitable and successful.
Why use digital workflows to manage incident reporting?
Digital workflow software can be used to implement incident reporting forms. An online form is used to simplify the reporting of incidents, provide visibility of incidents to management and provide key metrics related to the number of near misses and incidents.
It should also collect information about why incidents may have happened and suggested actions on how to prevent recurrence.
Effective use of an incident reporting form can reduce the time it takes for people to report incidents, reduce additional paperwork and track actions that have been identified to prevent incidents recurring.
It also allows for a high standard of quality control by setting mandatory fields for data input.
Management information and monitoring
Management can view weekly, monthly and yearly overviews of performance via dashboards. This means that decisions can be targeted at reducing the risk of future incidents.
There is also a track record of the steps that have been taken, to help demonstrate a company’s commitment and efforts to improve their health and safety record.
By reviewing health and safety performance, lessons can be learned and shared through several mediums, such as additional training, toolbox talks, changes to construction methodology, purchase of new equipment, or a review of approved sub-contractors.
Implementing effective construction incident systems
The end users of the system must be considered when implementing the systems, as well as those in the management chain. Barriers to reporting should be minimised, so employees should be trained and able to submit forms online or offline and capture data from the incident easily (such as pictures from a smart phone or tablet).
Effective incident reporting systems also have a focus on near miss reporting and good practices. Near misses are useful for looking at close calls where someone has been lucky and putting steps in place to ensure that luck does not play a part in people’s future safety.
An example of an incident report that involves pro-active management is good practices. Good practices look at what is going well and provide feedback to the teams to improve morale and belief in health and safety, whilst also allowing for these good practices to be distributed to other teams.
Kianda is a software platform that allows companies like yours to automate and streamline business processes such as incident reporting via easily built online forms and workflows.
Start your free trial today at www.kianda.com
Osvaldo Sousa – Digital process automation expert with almost two decades of experience in information technologies. He is the CEO/Co-founder of Kianda Technologies.