Q&A: 5 Methods of Breaking Bad (Reporting Habits)
Strategies for changing employee reporting habits.
Okay, admittedly, this Q&A isn't on how to cook like Bryan Cranston. That would be illegal. But it is about breaking bad reporting habits, which is just as important to EHSQ data accuracy as breaking down Gus's empire is to Walt's success. In order to identify trends by analyzing data, you need data to analyze. That is a no-brainer, and the only way to get that data is through those who are the psuedoephedrine equivalent of occupational safety. Workforces are the key ingredient.
Here are 5 ways EHSQ Directors can break 5 bad reporting habits and ensure employees are engaged.
Q: What are the most breakable barriers to reporting?
User adoption is a critical component in the global implementation of EHSQ software. Without those on the ground submitting a form each time a near-miss or incident occurs, management systems would be rendered useless. There are a number of reasons users may not be reporting incidents, but there are some that can be solved easily:
- Lack of Organization Interest
Each can be tackled by taking simple steps if you’re the EHS Director or in senior management.
Q: Is there a quick-fix for any of these barriers?
Despite quick-fixes not being a recommended method of resolving issues – and I don’t recommend them either – there are a couple things that you can do to kick off your long-term strategy. Let’s take embarrassment, for instance. Workplace culture should accept that people make mistakes, and employees should be made aware of the potentially harmful consequences of not reporting an incident.
Method #1: EHS Managers could make the topic of safety much more familiar and accepted by holding monthly safety meetings to educate their staff and remove any stigma around raising a concern.
Fear, our second example. Unfortunately, a blame culture still exists in companies where workplace safety is seen as a burden or a drain on efficiency. In fact, it is estimated that implementing an effective EHS system can improve operational effectiveness by 20%, so the stigma around safety should – in theory – be eradicated. This one comes entirely down to management. Reporting both near-misses and incidents should always be encouraged in order to reduce accidents, and employees who do so should be met with praise rather than punishment.
Method #2: You might consider implementing an anonymous reporting model.
Q: What can I do in the long-term?
Difficulty is a good example of a barrier that can be eradicated with the planning of an effective long-term strategy. Workers’ time is valuable and reporting an incident or near-miss may just equate to a ‘headache’.
Method #3: By implementing mobile reporting, this issue should no longer be a cause for concern. Sure, deploying such a solution will take time, effort and a bit of budget, but the results you’ll see in the long-run prove more than a worthy ROI. The data you will collect from mobile reporting systems will be easily deciphered, rich and logged in the system instantly – added bonuses for organizations in high-risk, highly regulated industries which need to analyze data fast.
Which brings me on to classification. Similar to difficulty, employees may not report near-misses simply because it’s confusing to figure out what to class the incident as. Furthermore, someone may use their own judgement to class an incident as non-report-worthy – the National Safety Council found that 72% out of those who hadn't reported an injury didn’t because the consequences to themselves had been minor.
Method #4: How to approach this barrier:
- Include a severity matrix for clear understanding of how serious the incident is
- Enable descriptions to be added to forms
- Implement procedures for superiors reviewing forms after submission
- Create an easily accessed Intranet page with details of how certain incidents should be recorded
- Encourage workers to report all incidents as next time the victim may not be so lucky
Q: How can I make employees take safety seriously?
Lack of organization interest is probably the biggest influencer on the reporting of incidents. This can otherwise be known as a company’s ‘safety culture’. The best way to make others take safety seriously is to prove to them that their wellbeing is valued.
Method(s) #5: Issue a monthly safety newsletter with figures of how the business is performing, instigate a safety committee, invest in training for staff, take opinion surveys, or implement an easy to use EHS system. You could set monthly targets to meet, requiring employees to log at least one near-miss a month. You could even offer a prize for the best catch! We've seen many clients implement this strategy successfully, and it makes the often dry subject of safety that little bit more fun.
There are 7 things for your to-do list right there. Safety starts from the top: the board and management need to show their commitment before employees can be expected to follow suit.
And here's the big idea to top it all off. What better way to reinforce safety culture than have the CEO write a meaningful article (that clearly hasn't just come from the marketing department)? The best effort I have ever seen comes from the ex-CEO of Wood Group, Bob Keiller. Check out this video of a poem he wrote, made with Wood Group employees around the world, promoting a strong safety culture. Something similar might benefit your company too.
Engagement of the workforce is key in improving EHSQ performances. Make it simple, comfortable, confidential, and encouraged for employees to report near-misses and accidents. It may take time, but soon you will start to see the benefits of investing effort in making your staff’s lives a little bit easier, in the form of rich data to analyze and dissect into meaningful reports and KPIs.
Break bad reporting habits and you could be cooking up some serious batches of EHSQ information... (and it'll all be legal!)
Written by Murray Ferguson