Environmental, health & safety (EHS) professionals perform the most vital role in any organization: protecting the workforce and customers.

Non-compliance can have devastating consequences – both business and human. One incident has the potential to change – and end – lives. On the business side, lawsuits and regulatory penalties are two obvious outcomes, but safety breaches can also stall or halt production and deal a serious blow to the corporate brand.

Maintaining a clean compliance record is directly tied to the effective capture and communication of accurate and rich EHS data. Many organizations, from small and medium businesses (SMBs) to large enterprises, have realized this and are leveraging mobile data collection solutions to reach – and exceed – compliance benchmarks.

Question: Why Can't We Just Use Paper Forms?

A task as crucial as maintaining health & safety can't succumb to communication bottlenecks. Safety breaches have to be reported and remedied in a timely manner. If an EHS team is relying on paper forms, the process is vulnerable to delays and human error. Paper forms may contain illegible handwriting and incorrect calculations. Crucial information may not be communicated effectively – if at all. There are often lags in delivering the data to key stakeholders – and it's not uncommon for reports to be lost in transit. If vital data is missing, inspectors may have to return to a site to recapture the information. Once forms are received at the office, they must be manually entered into a back-end system, a process that is both time-consuming and prone to error. These setbacks may seem insignificant on their own, but, when added up, they can substantially delay the making of decisions that are critical to resolving EHS issues.

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Q: How Do Mobile Solutions Cut Down on Communication Bottlenecks?

Mobile solutions speed up field data collection via user-friendly designs and an array of time-saving features. Mobile solutions ensure that all text is perfectly legible (users can even select pre-populated answers from drop-down menus), all calculations are accurate (as they're made automatically), and critical information is not skipped over via mandatory form fields. Improved data collection cuts down on the number of repeat site visits. Mobile solutions help ensure that data is captured right, the first time.

Mobile solutions also greatly expedite the process of submitting data to key stakeholders. All forms are submitted in real time to back-end systems or popular cloud services, eliminating constant trips back to the main office and ensuring that not a single form is lost. This streamlined process empowers management to make faster, more informed decisions to resolve compliance issues that can negatively impact their business.

Q: What Is Rich Data? And How Does It Support EHS Compliance?

Mobile solutions allow for rich data, which enables more effective decision-making. Rich data generally refers to anything that isn't written text. Sometimes, it's difficult to articulate a problem in words. Mobile solutions allow inspectors to take photos of job sites or faulty equipment and sketch on top of them to highlight safety concerns. With paper-based processes, the photos would have to be printed and physically attached to the report, but mobile solutions seamlessly integrate all photos directly into the mobile forms. Top-tier solutions also come equipped with audio capabilities. Inspectors can often gauge the health of a piece of equipment just from the sound it makes. They can capture audio and effortlessly embed the file in an inspection form for later review.

Q: Once We've Collected All This Data, What Do We Do With It?

Maintaining a clean compliance record means more than just leveraging data to correct individual issues as they arise. Premier mobile solutions are equipped with sophisticated analytics engines that analyze trends in historical data, providing insight into how you're trending against compliance objectives. Analytics aggregates data into visually-appealing reports that can be scheduled for regular delivery to specific stakeholders. Data can be stored for years – without taking up a single square foot of office space.

Powerful analytics engines allow you to set – and reach – ambitious compliance targets. A facilities management provider has harnessed an EHS Analytics solution to up its compliance target from 85 to 100 per cent. The company's division managers are reaching between 95 and 100 per cent compliance every month.

Mobile solutions are one of the most powerful tools in an EHS professional's toolkit. The most important decisions your business makes are related to the safety of your workforce and customers. And informed decisions are fueled by informative data.

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