News & Information Blog

Benefits of Safety Observations

By Susen Trail | 07/19/2021

This blog emphasizes the Safety Observation reporting process in Simple Safety Coach's safety management software because it is the first step in any investigative process.  Our Safety Observation process was carefully developed and designed so that it ensures transparency, communication, and participation throughout the workplace while minimizing disruption to production.

Our premise, based on decades of observation, is that the large majority of your employees are intelligent, conscientious, and aware of their surroundings.  As such, they are uniquely placed to identify hazards well before they result in employee injury and/or property damage.

Reporting a Safety Observation

From years of interviewing injured employees for Wisconsin's Department of Workforce Development, I found few employees who did not know the hazard was there beforehand.  They blamed their injuries on forgetting to use the safe work practices they'd developed to avoid it.  When asked why they didn't report the hazard, they gave the following responses:

  • I meant to but never got around to it.
  • I don't have time on the floor and barely time to eat at the lunch break.
  • The Supervisor knows about it.
  • I told the Supervisor and he got angry and told me to get back to work.
  • I filled out one of those paper forms and put it in the box six months ago.
  • Nothing ever happens when you report things.
  • I didn't want to:
    • Be a complainer
    • Make trouble
    • Bother the Supervisor
  • I wouldn't know who to tell.
  • I don't know how to find the Safety Manager.
  • I know how to find the Safety Manager and where the box and forms are, but it's a long way from my work area.
  • I'm afraid of repercussions.
  • Look at this place, does it look like they care?
  • I'm paid to weld and I'm very busy.  Why should I do the Safety Manager's job for them?

Basically, the reasons employees fail to speak up are:

  1. Inconvenience.
  2. Timidity.
  3. Discouragement by the current, or previous, Safety Culture. Including fear of reprisal.
  4. Lack of transparency so employees don't know that they were heard and respected.
  5. Disengagement from the Safety Culture or lack of a positive Safety Culture.

We know that the most important feature in a reporting process is speed and convenience.  This is why we developed our mobile app with the same simplicity and ease of access that is the hallmark of our software.  If your company provides employees with access to reporting hazardous conditions, they can use their cell phones or a dedicated tablet in their work area and, within 30 seconds, they can provide a short description of the hazard, the location or piece of equipment, the date and time of the observation.  It may take a few more seconds to snap and add pictures.

If an employee is timid or has reason not to approach their Supervisor or Safety Manager with a concern, they can click the box for Report Anonymously.

When I was in enforcement it was not uncommon to respond to a complaint only to find that the employer had taken care of it but never bothered to get back to the employee who took the time to relay their concern.  This is the absolute best way to create a poor Safety Culture and a work force that feels discouraged and disrespected. 

Once the Safety Observation has been created, the Safety Manager gets a notification and the Observation appears on the dashboard.  It is important to provide employees with access to view their own, or all, Safety Observations so they can follow the investigation and results, including any reasons why no action was taken.

Allowing employees access to view all Safety Observations can yield some excellent multiplier effects by alerting other employees to look for similar hazards in their own work areas.  It can also alert employees who have put some thought into changes that would reduce or remove the hazards that now is the time to come forward with their ideas.  This not only streamlines the process but it often results in an abatement with minimal effect on productivity creating a higher buy in, instead of bypass, by employees.

All of the above are key components to creating and sustaining a healthy Safety Culture.  Subscribers who decide to use the automatic Participation Points can assign employees a goal that is part of their performance review.  During Safety events you can have competitions between Departments or shifts.  You can delete sham Observations and remove points as needed.

Our Safety Observation form allows the employee to select Praise or Prevention.  If they see someone doing a particularly good job, or improvement in work practices or attitude, they can positively recognize them publicly.

You can get information about other Simple Safety Coach's capabilities on our website.  We would love to demonstrate and/or discuss our Safety Observation reporting process at any time.  You can reach us via our Contact Page.

You can also enjoy Part II and Part III of our series on Safety Observations.

Looking to see if Simple Safety Coach is right for you?