6 Key Elements to Include in a Good Incident Report

Is your organization is aiming for a ‘zero’ target on all accidents?

If so, you’ll appreciate the importance of having a good incident reporting system in place.

A strong system will help you track, monitor and respond to accidents and incidents as and when they occur, helping you create a safer working environment for your staff.

But what should a good incident report look like? What should it contain? And how much detail is ‘enough’?

In this post, we’ll answer those questions and more by outlining the six key elements that every good incident report should contain. We promise to show you exactly what to include and, just as importantly, what to leave out.

The six key elements to include in a good incident report are:

  1. Holistic
  2. Accurate
  3. Objective
  4. Comprehensive
  5. Data-driven
  6. Cloud-based

Before we start discussing these elements in more detail, let’s start with the basics.

What is an incident report?

Incident reporting is the process of documenting any critical event that occurs on an organization’s premises. Incidents could involve company employees, contractors, visitors or even the general public.

A good incident report should help the organization document all workplace injuries, accidents and near-misses, no matter how minor or complex.

What is considered an incident?

‘Incident’ is quite a broad-ranging term.

It could mean:

  • An event
  • A condition, or
  • A situation

Most commonly, incidents are thought of as an event, such as a trip, a fall or a workplace accident.

For example, Australian businesses must comply with the model WHS Act which stipulates that regulators are informed about notifiable incidents such as the death of a person, a serious injury or illness or any dangerous incident that exposes any person to a serious risk.

But an incident could also be a condition – such as a manufacturing error that necessitates a product recall.

An incident could also be a situation such as an unsafe area of an organization’s premises flagged up in a safety walkthrough.

So, how do you define what is and what isn’t an incident?

As a rule of thumb, an incident will be something that:

  • Disrupts or interferes with an organizations’ business
  • Affects the operational systems of an organization
  • Poses a risk to members of an organization, or contractors, visitors or customers.
  • Creates negative attention (public perception or media attention)

A good incident report should help document all of these incidents and more!

What makes a good incident report?

An incident report is an important tool that is used to document any event, condition or situation that may cause injury to people or damage to an organization’s property.

Incident reports can be paper-based or electronically generated and are a way of capturing and documenting any of the following things:

  • Accidents
  • Injuries
  • Near-misses
  • Property damage
  • Equipment damage
  • Health and safety issues
  • Security breaches (physical or electronic)
  • Workplace misconduct issues
  • Potential risks (when used as part of a Safety document), and
  • Uncontrolled hazards

6 Key Elements to Include in a Good Incident Report

What separates a standard incident report from a good one?

Critically, a good incident report will help a company in three key ways.

These are:

  • Investigating incidents
  • Analyzing incidents
  • Predicting/reducing the chances of future incidents occurring

To do this, the report must have enough information so that organizations can:

  • Determine the root cause of an incident
  • Decide the best corrective action for eliminating the risks
  • Taking steps to prevent future occurrences

Now that we’ve covered the groundwork and we’re all on the same page, let’s dive right into the six key elements that make up a good incident report!

Element 1. Holistic

The first key element of a good incident report is that is should be holistic. Key stakeholders in any organization, such as managers, HR personnel, and safety officials, must be aware of various situations and events that occur.

It’s no good if the incident report only deals with one type of incidents such as physical accidents, or near-misses – it should be holistic and provide a way for incidents of all types to be reported quickly and effectively.

When we talk about a holistic approach to incident reporting, there are two main types of indicators:

  • Lagging indicators
  • Leading indicators

Let’s look at these two indicators more closely!

Lagging indicators
Lagging indicators refer to incidents that are reported after they have occurred, such as:

  • Recorded injuries
  • Citations
  • Employee compensation claims

As lagging indicators are reported retrospectively – after the fact – your organization must use the collected data to inform decisions about what actions to take in the future to prevent them from occurring again.

Leading indicators
Leading indicators, on the other hand, are those that are recorded before actual accidents or injuries have occurred.

These include:

  • Near misses
  • Behavioral observations
  • Safety meetings
  • Job observations
  • Training records

Leading indicators can be tracked to indicate the likelihood of incidents occurring in the future. Most of these metrics will not be reported on an incident report form. However, where we need to focus our attention is on ‘near misses’.

Some organizations would include ‘Near-misses’ as a lagging indicator as they are recorded after the fact. When we talk about a good incident report form being holistic, we mean that it covers all types of incidents, including near misses. This data can be used to reduce risk and prevent future incidents from occurring.

Holistic also means that the incident report form covers the four main types of incidents.

  • Near misses
    These are situations where people could have been injured, but, luckily nothing came to pass. These are like ‘free passes’ that give you the opportunity to learn from and correct poor situations without having to suffer the consequences of a workplace incident. Near misses need to be reported as important lagging and leading indicators.
  • No harm events
    The second type of incident that needs to be reported is ‘no harm events’. A good incident report form will help communicate and raise awareness of these incidents across an organization to raise awareness of what might happen. For example, if two types of chemicals used during a production process are found to react together adversely, this would be classified as a no-harm event. Staff across the entire organization should be made aware of this operational risk.
  • Adverse events
    Adverse events are related to medicines, medical devices, and vaccines. They occur during patient treatment or management, rather than from a preexisting condition.
  • Sentinal events
    Sentinal events are unexpected events that resulted in any type of harm (physical, psychological, etc) such as trips, falls, vehicle accidents, the outbreaks of diseases, and natural disasters.

A good incident report will cover all four types of incidents listed above to offer organizations a holistic view of all incidents that occur on their premises or affect their staff.

6 Key Elements to Include in a Good Incident Report

Element 2: Accurate

The second essential element of a good incident report form is accuracy. To be effective, an incident report should be specific and concise. It should avoid vague or easily misinterpreted language and phrases that may cause confusion and instead keep things on point.

The report should always be proofread to check for typos and spelling errors. Many companies are moving towards incident reporting software that automatically spellchecked reports when they are created.

However, some errors can only be spotted by humans. These include:

  • Details of peoples’ names
  • Dates and times of the incidents
  • Contact numbers

For this reason, it’s worth having a second person proofread the report to spot and correct glaring errors.

Here’s an example of how a good incident report could be structured to keep it concise:

Enter job description:_______________________________________

Date and time of the incident

  • Date:________________________________________________
  • Time:_______________________________________________

What was the Incident/ Near Miss?

Were there any injuries?

  • Yes
  • No

Was there any damage to property or plant?

  • Yes
  • No

What caused the incident?____________________________________

A clearly laid out incident report will help keep all details concise and will avoid confusion.

Element 3: Objective

The third key element of a good incident report is that is should be supported by facts and be objective, rather than being biased. Reports of incidents should be free from bias and opinions, an should instead focus on the facts at hand. Rather than appointing blame, the incident report must create a picture of both sides of the story.

How?

There are several ways to put objectivity at the heart of an incident report.

Firstly, your organization could stipulate that the person who submits an incident report form must take photos of the surrounding environment including annotations. This centers the report around visual evidence of the event or incident, instead of based on opinionated and biased statements.

Secondly, if the report includes statements from patients and/or witnesses, you could stipulate that the person completing the incident report quotes them, instead of paraphrasing.

This is important because, depending on the severity of the incident, the incident report should be submitted to an investigation team to further study and look for the root causes. The primary purpose of this investigation isn’t to find fault but to develop corrective actions to prevent similar incidents from occurring.

In the event of negligence and/or criminal culpability, this will be referred to the relevant legal authorities. The purpose of the incident investigation is to collect and analyze the information and evidence. This process will be far smoother if safety professionals have photographic evidence and witness quotes to work from.

Element 4: Comprehensive

The fourth key element in a good incident report is comprehensiveness. The report must cover all related essential questions including:

  • What
  • Where
  • When
  • Why, and
  • How

This includes not just the names of people who were injured or affected, but also details of people who witness and reported the incidents.

The report should cover:

  • The names of witnesses
  • The names of those who will conduct further investigate
  • Significant details that may be needed for further study and investigation

Element 5: Data-driven

The fifth key element of good incident reports is that they are data-driven. They should make use of as much data as possible to create the fullest possible picture of what happened.

For example:

  • Photos
  • Annotations
  • Diagrams
  • Illustrations
  • Audio recordings of witness statements
  • Electronic signature capture

These types of data will help build a complete picture of the nature of the injuries, damage, or surrounding environment at the time of the incident and will complement the written evidence provided in the report.

Giving your employees the ability to capture signatures electronically is extremely helpful. Those involved in the incident (e.g. victim, witnesses, manager, reporter, etc.) can sign off to testify and validate the accuracy of any information they submitted to the incident report. This helps to confirm that the incident report is truthful and accurate.

A good incident report will include space for the following details:

  • Actions to be taken to eliminate future repeats of the incident
  • Management comments
  • Employee sign off
  • Supervisor sign off when corrective actions have been adopted and monitored.

Element 6: Cloud-based

The sixth key element of a good incident report is that it should be cloud-based. All incident reports should be properly stored as an important record for every organization. Paper-based incident reports are time-consuming to store, access and manage – and that’s where cloud-based incident reporting software offers undeniable advantages.

Cloud-based incident reports can help streamline an organization’s entire incident reporting process, from recording, storing, tracking and investigating all types of incidents, dangerous conditions, and near-misses.

This is extremely helpful when it comes to ensuring regulatory compliance. According to guidance from Safe Work Australia Australian businesses must immediately notify their regulator about notifiable incidents such as the death of a person, a serious injury or illness and a dangerous incident that exposes any person to a serious risk.

Cloud-based incident reporting systems help by offering the following benefits:

  • Paperless incident reports can be generated by a range of hand-held devices, regardless of type or platform.
  • Report takers can attach unlimited photographic evidence with notes and annotations to their incident reports.
  • Software incident reports can include a wide range of supporting types of evidence not available to paper-based reports. This includes audio files of witness statements, electronic signature capture, photos, and video files.
  • Paperless reports can be generated without employees having to leave the site and then uploaded and shared in real-time with all members of the organization who have permission to view.
  • Cloud-based incident reporting solutions offer unlimited storage space for easy record keeping.

Taking your next steps

If you were curious about the six key elements of a good incident report, that’s about it.

Good incident reports will feature all of these six key elements and help ensure that organizations keep on top of their incident reporting. If your organization is looking to make smarter incident reporting decisions, drive operational excellence and create a culture of continuous safety improvement, having a good incident report form is essential.

Related posts:

Incident Reporting System: The Comprehensive Guide

Incident Reporting Systems: The Comprehensive Guide

Is your organization striving to make smarter safety decisions?

Are you aiming to create a culture of continual improvement?

Is achieving operational excellence in safety a top priority?

If you answered “Yes!” to one or all of those questions, you’ll understand the importance of having a comprehensive incident reporting system in place.

An incident reporting system can help any organization record, track, trend and investigate all types of incidents, dangers, and near-misses.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explain exactly what an incident reporting system is and precisely how it can benefit your organization.

We’ll be discussing things like:

  • What are Incident Reporting Systems?
  • What is Incident Reporting and how does it work?
  • The importance of document control
  • Response
  • Incident investigating
  • Root cause analysis
  • Paper-based vs Software – what’s the difference?
  • Safety incident reporting software: What to consider
  • Final thoughts

What are Incident Reporting Systems?

An incident reporting system is any system that helps an organization record, track, and investigate any type of dangerous situation. It could be a hazardous condition, an incident, or even a near-miss.

The system itself can take a number of forms.

  • It could be entirely paper-based, with with file folders and sticky notes kept in filing cabinets.
  • It could be entirely online, with cloud-based software helping to store and manage incident reports and admin documents.
  • Some organizations use a hybrid approach where some elements (such as incident report forms) are stored as hard copies and other elements (such as reports, and actions) are stored online as spreadsheets (such as Google sheets).

What is Incident Reporting and how does it work?

While the exact process for filing an incident report will vary between organizations, the basic safety incident life cycle should look broadly similar, whether a company is working predominantly offline or online.

The safety incident life cycle has six stages as follows:

  • Incident Reporting
  • Response
  • Investigation
  • Corrective Action
  • Tracking
  • Summary Report

Incident reporting is the first step in a much longer process. Reporting is usually thought of as what happens after an accident, dangerous condition, injury or near-miss has taken place. However, there are actually two types of metrics that should be studied.

These are:

  • Lagging indicators, and
  • Leading indicators

Let’s look at these two metrics in greater detail.

What are lagging indicators? 

Lagging indicators are incidents that are reported after an event has taken place.

These include:

  • Near-misses – events where no actual harm occurred.
  • Accidents resulting in personal injury
  • Equipment or property damage
  • No harm events – situations that all staff across the organization need to be made aware of.
  • Adverse events – those related to medicines, medical devices, and vaccines, rather than employee pre-existing conditions.
  • ‘Sentinal’ events – unexpected events such as trips, falls, vehicle accidents, the outbreaks of diseases, and natural disasters.
  • Environmental incidents such as spills or releases that must be contained and reported to the Australian government.
  • Vehicle incidents – including vehicle incident data that can be used to launch vehicle incident corrective/preventative actions (CAPAs).

These are all examples of lagging indicators – you’re looking in the rearview mirror, reporting what happened and seeing what you can learn from it.

What are leading indicators? 

Leading indicators are metrics that can be used to preemptively reduce the risk of injury or incidents.

For example:

  • Safety walkthroughs – you can study the length and frequency of walkthroughs.
  • Training effectiveness and the frequency that training takes place.
  • Management safety meetings and the frequency with which they occur.

Leading indicators are more like looking out of the windshield and seeing what problems could arise. Some organizations view near-misses as leading indicators, although they are events that happened and just didn’t lead to actual harm or injury. Kind of like a free pass!

Incident reporting works by having employees or key members of an organization report incident, accidents, injuries, and near-misses.

How?

By using an incident reporting form!

Reporting forms can be either:

  • paper-based and stored as a hard copy in a file, or
  • digital and stored electronically or in the cloud

Incident reporting forms ensure that incident and injury data is accessible for reporting and helps configure investigations and workflows. It should provide enough detail for the other stages in the six-stage incident life cycle to be completed.

Following an incident report, an organization can:

  • Make a response
  • Plan and assign corrective and/or preventatives actions tasks
  • Track completion
  • Comply with injury reporting regulations.

The importance of document control

The second part of an incident reporting system is document control. Once the incident reports have been created and submitted, what next?

For the incident reporting system to be effective, all documents should be stored in a secured centralized repository.

At the simplest end, many small Australian businesses work from a paper document known as a Safety Statement. With relatively few incidents reports to deal with, many small firms use file folders or office cabinets to store incident reports. This gives them control over user access and helps ensure that information about past incidents is kept secure.

But paper-based reporting systems can cause administrative issues for medium-sized businesses. The model WHS Act requires that Australian businesses notify their regulator of certain types of workplace incidents known as ‘notifiable incidents’ as soon as they occur. With a paper-based approach, the onus is on employees to complete this work and any lapse could result in significant fines.

Furthermore, to comply with guidance from Safe Work Australia, organizations must track all versions and revisions of reporting documents to ensure that only accurate, up-dated documents are used.

For this reason, many firms turn to incident reporting software that stores all documents online. This lets staff across the entire organization see any updates and changes in real-time, helping to ensure that the latest versions of documents are used.

Moving away from paper-based storage and towards online or a cloud-based incident reporting system helps you create a complete audit trail. This gives you a complete history of when records were created and when they were archived, retrieved, transmitted, or modified. By logging the local time and date, incident reporting software helps organizations of all sizes maintain regulatory compliance.

Response

After an incident report is submitted, the organization will make an appropriate response. For small businesses, the correct protocol will be outlined in the safety statement that staff can consult for guidance.

For larger organizations, or those using incident reporting software, the software itself will be able to suggest appropriate actions in response to the incident.

Most incident report forms will include space for details about the response taken. A key member of staff, such as the supervisor, will be assigned to record this and sign off on the incident.

5. Incident investigation

For serious incidents, the organization may need to conduct a thorough investigation of the incident.

Key members of staff such as safety professionals will analyze the incident using data and evidence provided in the incident report.

They will work on defining the underlying cause with the aim of reducing risk and the chances of future incidents occurring.

The goal of an incident investigation is to implement preventative measures and reduce the risks faced by employees.

Root cause analysis

The most comprehensive way to reducing risk, avoiding future incidents and driving continuous improvement in any organization is to use root cause analysis.

In small organizations, this work will typically be completed by OHS staff. Larger organizations or those using incident reporting software may have software to help them with root cause analysis activities.

The main root causes methodologies used are:

  • Basic checklists
  • Fishbone (Ishikawa) diagrams,
  • 5 Whys,
  • Gap analysis
  • and more!

These methodologies, either separately or combined, help manage or eliminate contributing and root causes, and identify and implement corrective actions. These actions can counter the identified root causes.

Paper-based vs Software – what’s the difference?

In general, smaller businesses will use paper-based incident reporting systems, while medium and larger businesses will opt for a software-based approach. However, organization of all sizes, from start-ups, to educational institutions and even non-profits, can actually benefit from a software solution to incident reporting.

So, what are the main differences?

Real-time updates
Moving away from a paper-based incident reporting system means saying goodbye to file folders and filing cabinets stuffed full of documents and reports. Unlike paper forms that must be manually retrieved and modified whenever an action is taken, software incident reporting systems offer real-time updates.

Listen.

When you move to a software system, the key details related to each health and safety incident are shared in real-time online with all relevant members of the organization. This helps each staff member learning from each other’s experiences and improve workplace safety.

Identify new areas for improvement
Earlier in this guide, we discussed lagging and leading indicators. Most organizations are good at responding to lagging indicators such as dangerous conditions, accidents, and near-misses.

But leading indicators are tougher to track and follow.

One of the key benefits of adopting a software-based approach to incident reporting is that it gives you a higher level of visibility into your organization’s safety performance.

With software, you are able to unidentified new areas for improvement than may have otherwise gone untracked, such as:

  • meeting frequency
  • training frequency and quality
  • safety walkthrough frequency

Incident reporting software can help detect issues that are likely to cause future incidents, such as a lack of safety training and low scores on post-training tests by employees. By detecting these root causes, the software can suggest preventative action such as increasing training frequency and/or improving the quality of the training.

Another example are nonconformance applications, or NCRs. Many firms who switch to incident reporting software find that their NCRs double or even triple. This means that more NCRs are being recorded and fewer are going unnoticed, helping the organization focus on their improvement efforts.

Automated follow-ups
With paper-based incident reporting, it’s easy for a supervisor to say that further consideration will be given to a future incident – and then nothing gets done!

Incident reporting software makes the process of following up on incident reporting far easier and faster. Organizations can actively monitor whether staff members are following through on critical steps in the reporting, investigating and action process. What’s more, much of this work can be automated so that employees are sent automatic email reminders to attend meetings and training.

Safety incident reporting software: What to consider

Safety incident reporting software makes incident reporting and investigation incredibly simple!

Incident reporting software lets your organization record, track and investigate any type of incident, including near-misses and dangerous conditions.

This helps you reduce risk and keep your employees safe.

So, what do you need to look out for?

Here’s our guide to everything you need to consider when choosing the right incident reporting software for your organization.

Offline and mobile capability

Offline connectivity is a huge plus; your employees can capture date when they are working remotely or without an internet connection. They can then sync with the system and upload the data when they regain connectivity. Mobile capability means that your staff will experience a purpose-designed mobile experience no matter which mobile device they use.

Meetings and communications management

The best incident reporting software can help you manage all your meetings and communications, helping you keep on top of your workload.

You can sit back and let the software do everything from:

  • Scheduling meetings
  • Send automated notifications to attendees
  • Record and track meeting attendance
  • Assign and track follow-up tasks

By maintaining a record of all meetings and associated tasks, incident reporting software can help ensure that incidents are properly responded to in a timely manner.

The software can also record and track of communications. This helps your employees share information, plan activities and communicate in a more efficient way.

Data import and API access

The latest incident reporting software features both data import tools and API access. Data import means that you can map data from Excel spreadsheets directly into the software – perfect for adding historical data or updating data with records.

API access means that the software can communicate seamlessly with other third-party systems. This makes pushing and pulling data one database to the other a breeze.

Business analytics and intelligence

If your organization is looking to make smarter decisions and great a culture of continual improvement, business analytics and intelligence is one of the more important areas to consider when choosing incident reporting software.

Leading incident management software gives you 360-degree visibility of your organization and lets you get the most out of your data.

How?

The software can automatically generate reports, data slicers, and dashboards, giving your employees the information they need to respond to incidents in the best way.

Conclusion

In this comprehensive guide, we’ve explained exactly what an incident reporting system is and the benefits it can offer to your organization.

Whether your organization uses a paper-based system or has already moved to a software solution, the key features of a solid incident reporting system never change. If you want to move towards a safety culture, you need to have a data-driven approach to investigating, analyzing and responding to incidents.

Related posts:

How to choose an incident reporting software: key elements in 2019

How to Choose Incident Reporting Software: Key Elements in 2019

Is your organization looking to make incident reporting easier, faster and simpler than ever?

If so, incident reporting software is worth a look.

Having the right incident reporting software makes reporting and investigating incidents a breeze. You can easily track and investigate all types of incidents including accidents, dangerous conditions, near-misses and more!

With many types of incident reporting software to choose from, making the right decision can be tough. That’s why we wanted to outline the key elements that every organization should consider when choosing the best incident reporting software in 2019.

There are seven key elements to consider, as follows:

  1. Cloud-based
  2. Personnel tracking
  3. Evacuation management
  4. Pre-incident measurement tracking
  5. Root cause analysis
  6. KPI set selection and tracking
  7. Automated reporting

In this post, we’ll explain these key elements and show why they are important for any company that wants to use incident reporting software to create a workplace safety culture.

Element 1: Cloud-based

The first key element to look for when choosing incident management software is cloud-based functionality. As a responsible organization, you want to prioritize the safety of your staff, visitors, and guests. There’s no better solution than using cloud-based software.

The key advantage of using cloud-based incident management software is that it is platform-agnostic. This means that users can access the software via any internet-enabled device, including PCs, laptops, and mobile devices.

How?

Cloud-based software uses web apps and/or native Android and iOS apps. This lets users access the software from almost any computer or device, regardless of which operating system the device is running on.

This approach helps ensure that all of your staff have convenient access to the incident reporting software, no matter whether they are using Windows, Linux, iOS, Android!

With cloud-based incident reporting software, your organization can:

  • Create and store limitless incident reports
  • Instantly share reports and incident reporting metrics in real-time
  • Ensure that all incident data is centralized and easily accessible for reporting
  • Comply with injury reporting regulations

If you’re looking to easily record, track, and investigate all types of incidents, near-misses and hazardous conditions, then cloud-based functionality is the first key element you should look for. We discuss this in greater detail in our comprehensive guide to incident reporting systems.

Element 2. Personnel tracking

The second key element to consider when choosing incident reporting software is personnel tracking.

Listen.

If you care about employee safety and want to reduce on-site incidents, you need to know exactly who’s on location at any of your sites at any given time. You must keep tabs on your employees and contractors, whether they are in one building or in multiple locations across the country or around the world. That’s why personal tracking service is the second key element to consider when choosing incident reporting software.

Personal tracking services provide real-time guidance about who’s on location at any given site and where they are expected to be. Dashboards and reports can show employee location at a glance, helping to minimize the risk of incidents occurring and helping to ensure that people receive fast, accurate help if an incident occurs.

Most leading incident reporting services offer a self-signing option where visitors, staff or contractors can sign in and identify that they’ve arrived on site. Organizations with this software will commonly place a kiosk or tablet in their waiting area or reception for people to sign into.

Visitors who arrive on your premises can use self-signing to:

  • Identify the purpose of their visit
  • Provide details of who they are visiting and why
  • Electronically sign non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) before entering

Self-signing not only helps your organization keep track of who’s on-site; it also helps with the flow of communication. For example, the software can automatically notify your staff that their expected visitor has arrived.

Element 3. Evacuation management

The third key element to consider when choosing incident reporting software is evacuation management. Software with a built-in evacuation management tool helps take your organization beyond clipboard-based paper rosters and streamlines your operations.

How?

It starts with Single Sign On (SSO), which helps ensure that all employees have a seamless sign-on experience. Each user has a single set of credentials in order to access the software. This helps identify, locate and track every member of staff at any given site in real-time.

SSO lets the incident reporting software record and track all relevant internal and external communications that take place on the system. In the event of an emergency, the software can be used to share information in real-time and increase the efficiency of the internal communication process within an organization.

During an evacuation, senior management and safety personnel can watch in real-time as their facility is evacuated and people are checked in on the roster that they are safe.

Element 4: Pre-Incident measurement tracking

The goal of any incident reporting software is to record, track, trend and investigate any incident that takes place on your premises. However, there are actually two main types of metrics that you need to track;

  • Lagging incident measurements
    Measurements that are taken after an incident has occurred.
  • Leading incident measurements
    Measurements that occur before an incident has taken place.

Most incident management software is effective at tracking lagging incident measurements. A good example of this would be a slip and fall incident caused by construction materials. Staff can easily use the incident reporting software to log and manage the entire safety incident life cycle, as follows:

  • Report the incident
  • Generate a response
  • Investigate the incident
  • Take corrective action
  • Generate a summary report

However, the key element to look for when choosing incident reporting software is pre-incident measurement tracking. This is one of the six key elements of a good incident report that you should look for. This helps your organization track and monitor metrics that help reduce incidents before they take place.

How?

Let’s say you do a weekly safety walkthrough of your premises and store these report directly on your incident management software. As your reports are centralized, the software can automatically identify potential risks and suggest preventative measures that can be used to reduce risk.

How to choose an incident reporting software: key elements in 2019

For instance, if you’ve got some demolition going on, the software can look ahead and predict that this area is likely to be a little more hazardous for your staff and contractors. The software may suggest increasing the frequency of your safety walkthroughs to address these potential risks.

Software that logs pre-incident measurements helps your organization move towards a proactive posture. By measuring leading indicators including conditions, events, and sequences that may precede or lead up to accidents, the risk of future incidents arising is vastly reduced. This gives you an opportunity to introduce control measures that can stop the event from happening altogether.

Element 5: Root cause analysis

The fifth key element to consider when choosing incident reporting software is root cause analysis. In other words, how can your organization study past incidents and learn from the data?

Leading incident reporting software is able to autonomously conduct thorough root cause analyses. This helps your organization to reduce risks, avoid future incidents and drive continuous improvement while meeting occupational health and safety standards.

Look.

When your organization invests in incident reporting software, you are essentially creating a centralized, web-based location where all incident reports and related data are stored and managed. This means that all root cause analysis activities can be centralized and that all analysis data can be easily shared and reported.

The software is able to autonomously identify contributing factors and root causes for any incidents that occur, such as:

  • The frequency and duration of safety meetings
  • The frequency of safety walkthroughs and checks
  • Records of past similar events

Incident reporting software with root cause analysis functionality can use multiple methodologies such as checklists, gap analysis, and the Ishikawa diagrams to identify contributing factors and root causes. It can then identify and suggest corrective actions to reduce risk and prevent future incidents from occurring.

Element 6: KPI set selection and tracking

The sixth key element to consider when choosing incident management software is Key Performance Indicator (KPI) set selection and tracking.

Why?

As much as you may want to, you simply can’t track all incident-related KPIs. The advantage of using incident reporting software is having access to a tool that automatically selects the most important KPIs and tracks them.

Incident reporting software can look through your lagging indicators, such as:

  • OHS recordable injuries
  • OHS citations
  • Total case incident rate
  • Days away
  • Fatality rate (hopefully you don’t have to look at that!)
  • Your employee’s comp claims
  • Your Experience modification rate (EMR)

Incident reporting software can also examine your lagging indicators, such as:

  • Near misses
  • Behavioral observations
  • Job observations
  • Training records (including training that’s past due or didn’t get done and training scores on post-training quizzes)
  • Safety meetings and the quality of safety meetings
  • Frequency of meetings by departments/ teams
  • Employee perception surveys (ie. What is employee perception of safety culture in the workplace and how can you respond to that?)
  • Preventative maintenance (PM) programs, ie. What percentage of PMs are overdue? We know that the longer we don’t’ address PM, the failure/breakdown rate of machines will rise. Tracking the percent of PMs that are overdue helps keep the workload manageable and helps you address safety issues.

Leading incident reporting software can track these lagging and leading indicators and help you identify which metrics are most critical to track. This key element helps you manage your resources effectively and stay on top of your safety. You can identify the most important problems sooner and reduce risk before they require excessive remedial attention.

Element 7: Automated reporting

The seventh key element to consider when choosing incident reporting software is automated reporting. All organizations strive to create ‘zero accident’ environment and, while there are plenty of ways to approach this challenge, it’s far easier if you use incident reporting software with automated reporting functionality.

Consider this:

Firstly, you must know where your risks are. Sure, you can survey your employees and ask them: “If you had to bet, where in our facilities or processes are our next accidents or illness most likely to come from?” They’ll likely be able to tell you.

But attempting to gather and track more complex metrics such as meeting frequency or duration can be extremely difficult if you’re a one or two-person EHS team. If you’re using spreadsheets for manual data entry, it’s hard to keep track of everything!

This makes regulatory compliance extremely tough. According to Safe Work Australia, the model WHS Act requires you notify your regulator of certain types of workplace incidents known as ‘notifiable incidents’ occur.

These include

  • A person’s death – whether they are an employee, contractor or member of the public.
  • Any serious injury or illness.
  • Any type of dangerous incident that exposes any person to a serious risk, even if no one is injured.

That’s where incident reporting software comes in handy. The software is able to automate much of the data gathering and reporting work and can create tracking reports in real-time as the data is generated.

This is light-years ahead of traditional paper-based incident reporting system and can help your organization avoid fines for regulatory non-compliance.

How?

Incident reporting software offers an instant, organization-wide overview of every reported incident, with minimal need to undertake laborious and time-consuming data entry.

It can then use multiple methodologies to manage and eliminate contributing factors and root causes. The software will generate a report that not only identifies which corrective actions to take but actually starts to implement them.

For example:

Let’s say that a workplace accident is caused by construction debris. Incident reporting software can implement corrective actions such as more frequent safety walkthroughs and other preventative measures. This reduces risk with minimal need to manually log data or generate reports.

Taking your next steps

These seven key elements are essential to consider when choosing incident management software in 2019. You’ll want to keep them in mind as you decide which software to invest in and which to use. The right software will give your organization 360-degree visibility of all your safety issues and concerns. It will provide you with real-time reports, intuitive dashboards and powerful benchmarking that can help you make smarter decisions. With leading incident management software, your organization can create a culture of continual safety improvement and drive operational excellence.

The Top 5 Incident Management Tools for 2019

The Top 5 Incident Management Tools for 2019

If your organization is already using incident management software, you’ll know that leading software platforms can help make tracking, analyzing and responding to incidents a whole lot easier!

Incident management software is essential whether you want to track accidents and injuries, or are trying to spot unexpected disruptions in your IT services.

But did you know that there are several key tools that can boost the effectiveness of your incident management processes?

In this post, we’ll explore the top five incident management tools for 2019. The tools on our list will help your staff track unexpected hazards and keep everyone in the loop with extensive reporting and analytical features.

All five of the tools on our list will help your organization identify the cause of incidents as they occur and decide upon the best course of action is the shortest time possible.

Ready to discover the five best incident management tools in the business?

They are:

  1. PagerDuty
  2. Zendesk Suite
  3. Spiceworks Help Desk
  4. OpsGenie
  5. VictorOps

Let’s look at these powerful incident management tools in more detail!

1. PagerDuty

Regardless of the specific incident management software that your organization is using, your employees need to be able to report, investigate and analyze a wide range of issues. Whether you are concerned with safety, environment, quality assurance, product quality or business management, your staff will need to report, measure and respond to it all.

To work effectively, your staff needs access to a reliable mobile incident management solution and that’s where PagerDuty comes in. This mobile-first solution gives your staff the ability to report incidents anywhere, right from the palms of their hands.

The Top 5 Incident Management Tools for 2019

PagerDuty tops our list of incident management tools for 2019 as it gives you a real-time overview of how your business is performing and where incidents are occurring. PagerDuty provides you with an unprecedented insight into your business and offers a range of advanced automated options ensuring that you take the right action, no matter the type of incident or where it occurs.

So, what makes PagerDuty our top incident management tool for 2019?

There are five main reasons:

  1. Ease of access
  2. Timeline view
  3. Multi-channel communication
  4. Response automation
  5. Highly customizable notifications and actions

Let’s look at each of these areas in greater detail:

1. Ease of access

Available as a native app for both iOS and Android mobile devices, PagerDuty offers unparalleled ease of access. Your staff can report incidents and track follow-up actions irrespective of which device they are using.

2. Timeline view

To track, monitor and analyze incidents, you need to keep abreast of the schedules of your team. PagerDuty helps you see the past, present and future services and schedules that your team have, helping you get an overview of your entire incident management process.

3. Multi-channel communication

To stay in touch with your staff, you need an incident management tool that offers a range of communication options. PagerDuty offers text messages, chat channels, and video calls that help you keep in touch. This reduces the time needed to respond to incidents and resolve them effectively.

4. Response automation

Leading incident management software helps you automate responses to incidents as they occur. Depending on the nature of the incidents, this could include;

  • Rebooting a server
  • Creating a workflow
  • Notifying stakeholders
  • Running diagnostics
  • And more!

PagerDuty lets you keep critical stakeholders informed about your progress when dealing with incidents.

5. Highly customizable notifications and actions

Lastly, PagerDuty helps your staff stay informed about the status of incidents. Whether they are acknowledged, resolved, or escalated, you can keep everyone in the workflow aware of the status of each incident at all times. The notifications are highly customizable to suit the needs of your entire workforce.

2. Zendesk Suite

The second tool on our list is Zendesk, an innovative help desk system with excellent reporting and analysis capabilities.

If you are looking for ways of helping your staff solve problems for themselves before contacting IT staff for assistance, Zendesk Suite is the ideal incident management tool for you.

So what makes Zendesk one of the top incident management tools?

There are two stand-out features:

  • Multiple contact channels
  • Cloud-based solution

Multiple contact channels
Zendesk links together a wide range of systems and avenues to offer your staff a range of options for getting help. With Zendesk, contacting IT will be an avenue of last resort for your staff. They’ll have a range of ways to get the help they need, including:

  • A searchable advice database
  • Interactive inquires
  • A chat window

Whenever your staff experiences an issue or problem, their first port of call is Zendesk’s searchable advice database. This database is continually expanded and upgraded to offer the best advice in real-time. This helps your staff find the solution to their problem with ease, wherever in the world they may be located.

The Top 5 Incident Management Tools for 2019

If the database can’t solve their queries, your staff can try Zendesk’s interactive inquiries feature. This feature helps them pinpoint the problem they are experiencing and find the best solution fast.

Lastly, your employees can use the chat window feature. Here, they can raise a ticket so that a Zendesk agent contacts them at the first available opportunity. Tickets can also be raised through a phone call or email.

Cloud-based
The second standout feature of Zendesk is that it’s a cloud-based suite. This aspect of Zendesk means that your employees can monitor and report incidents on the go, regardless of their physical location. Provided they have an internet connection, they can access Zendesk’s functions at their convenience. Furthermore, any reports or documents they upload are shared in real-time with all relevant members of your organization, helping to streamline your incident management process.

3. Spiceworks Help Desk

Third on our lists of incident management tools for 2019 is Spiceworks, a remarkable free help desk for Windows and Mac OS that lets your staff report, log and manage incidents with ease.

Spiceworks is available as both on-premises software or a more limited online version.

If you’re wondering what makes Spiceworks one of the best incident management software tools for 2019, here are it’s two standout features:

  • Cloud-based help desk
  • Active user community

Cloud-based solution
Although Spiceworks on-premises software isn’t cloud-based, it does has a Cloud Help Desk feature that can be accessed anywhere from any device with an internet connection. This means that you don’t need to worry about software and OS compatibility, as you can access Help Desk from any iOS or Android device.

With cross-platform compatibility, Spiceworks gives your employees the freedom to use devices that match their preferences. They can access the Help Desk through a device of their choosing. This gives them the flexibility to report and monitor issues as they occur.

Active user community
The second feature that makes Spiceworks one of the top incident management tools for 2019 is its highly active user community. There are literally thousands of plug-ins that you can use to help integrate the system with other programs you might use.

For example, Spiceworks’ agent dashboard has a note-taking and messaging extension that helps your employees find collaborative solutions to any issues they experience.

There are dozens of world-class plug-ins for almost any software you may want to use Spiceworks with, making it a must-have incident management tool for 2019 and beyond!

4. OpsGenie

OpsGenie is the fourth tool we highly recommend for 2019. Why? Quite simply, it puts communication at the heart of your incident management processes.

Let’s look at how and why OpsGenie is one of the top incident management tools for 2019 and beyond.

OpsGenie offers two main functions:

  • Real-time alerting and communications
  • On-call schedules for alerts and Customized notifications

Let’s look at these key benefits in greater detail!

Real-time alerting and communications
The first benefit of OpsGenie is that it lets you manage geographically distributed teams. This makes it perfect if your employees are mobile or you are looking to standardize incident management procedures across multiple locations.

With real-time alerting and communications, your teams will remain updated with the latest incidents and developments provided they can access the OpsGenie platform from any internet-enabled device.

But there’s more.

OpsGenie is also perfect if you routinely have to deal with after-hours incidents. The application is able to automatically initiate appropriate response actions, no matter what time of the day or night they occur.

This is incredibly helpful for those times that you don’t have staff available to respond to incidents such as server downtime or crashes. OpsGenie is able to create workflows that available staff can follow to get up and running.

On-call schedules for alerts and Customized notifications
The second benefit of OpsGenie is its ability to offer customized notifications. As part of its response actions, it can notify staff members in a range of ways. For instance, non-addressed alerts can be followed up via OpsGenie’s phone call service.

OpsGenie operates on an escalation management system. This system has a series of predefined rules that govern the actions to be taken according to the type of incident detected. These rules can be customized so that the appropriate management levels are notified when certain actions and decisions are taken.

For example, let’s say you want to set up the escalation management for a server outage. You would set the rules based on incident severity and outline the different tiers and management levels you want notifications to be sent to when a server outage occurs.

When this type of incident occurs, OpsGenie will follow these rules to provide an automated phone call, SMS, or email to key employees at the appropriate management levels. As all decisions and actions are made from the OpsGenie mobile app, your entire team is connected and responsive at all times, without the need for manual intervention.

As the notifications are documented for each alert, your team can retrospectively look at the steps OpsGenie took when it detected problems and make adjustments accordingly. Over time, this helps improve the efficiency of the app at detecting and dealing with processes.

5. VictorOps

VictorOps is the fifth incident management tool for 2019 that you need to know about. Positioned as an alternative to PagerDuty, VictorOps is one of the best tools for structuring and streamlining your incident management processes in 2019.

So what are VictorOps’ unique benefits and advantages?

Like PagerDuty, VictorOps offers three key benefits for businesses:

  1. Real-time platform
  2. Timeline view
  3. Customized alerts and notifications

Real-time platform
VictorOps is a real-time platform that’s perfect for reacting to open incidents and analyzing them with a view to reducing or eliminating the chances of them occurring in the future. When a member of staff reports an incident via VictorOps, an incident alert is sent according to an on-call plan. This helps ensure that reports reach all relevant members of your organization in real-time, helping everyone stay in the loop.

However, staff members can also redirect messages and alerts themselves dynamically. For instance, they could add links to server logs, or explanations of solutions to messages before sending them. This can be done ‘on the fly’, helping to keep everyone updated about the latest incidents and solutions. As VictorOps is accessible in real-time, these solutions can be followed by team members who are nearest to the incident, or available at the time.

Timeline view
As with PagerDuty, VictorOps builds a ‘timeline’ that displays every piece of information. This helps you track incidents and see how they are investigated, responded to and either resolved or escalated. During investigations, this timeline can help you tie events together and keep track of your team members and their actions.

Customized alerts and notifications
One of the most unique features of VictorOps is its ‘transmogrifier’. This tool lets you customize everything from incident flows to alerts, notifications and more. For this reason, VictorOps lets your team modify the way they deal with incident management issues according to their specific needs and preferences. This potentially helps teams address problems faster and find solutions quicker than otherwise.

Conclusion

As we’ve seen, the top five incident management tools on our list have a lot to offer in 2019 and beyond. If you’re in the process of choosing the right incident management software, you may be wondering about your next steps.

Beakon’s incident management software offers industry-leading reporting, tracking and reporting abilities. So, contact us for a demo to see for yourself how our incident management software can meet your needs!

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Incident Management Processes: Key Concepts for Maximum Success

A couple of weeks ago, we shared our compact guide to choosing the right incident management system. Our guide is aimed at organizations that are actively considering incident management systems and want to know more about their options.

However, we recognize that successfully transitioning from an old-fashioned paper-based incident management system to a software solution isn’t always plain sailing. There’s more to is than simply choosing an off-the-shelve solution and hoping for the best.

For the transition to be successful, you need to be aware of the key concepts for maximum success. If you’re curious to find out more, keep reading!

In this post, we promise to show you the four key concepts for maximum success when adopting new incident management processes. We’ll show you how these concepts underpin every successful system for reporting, analyzing and dealing with incidents in your workplace.

In this post, we’ll be discussing:

  1. The competitive advantages of incident management software
  2. Key characteristics of incident management software
  3. Key concept 1: Real-time monitoring
  4. Key concept 2: Integration
  5. Key concept 3: Standardization
  6. Key concept 4: Automated processes
  7. Conclusion

In this post, we’ll be outlining all of these areas and more.

Sound fair? Then let’s go!

The competitive advantages of incident management software

Leading incident management software should help you improve your incident reporting.

This gives your organization a competitive advantage over your competition.

But what is the competitive advantage?

Well, take a moment and consider;

  • What’s most important to you?
  • What are the challenges your organization faces?
  • What goals do you face?

There’s a good chance that incident management software helps address some of the answers you gave. The right software can help you meet the challenges you face while helping you achieve your goals.

With incident management software, you can:

  • Boost your incident reporting rate and make all records easily searchable
  • Ensure regulatory compliance by informing the statutory authorities if a serious harm incident occurs.
  • Monitor incident investigations and corrective actions
  • Take proactive measures to reduce the chance of future incidents occurring
  • Save your organization time and money
  • Reduce the risk of fines for regulatory non-compliance (In Australia, firms are legally responsible for reporting serious harm incidents to the relevant statutory authorities).

Whether you’re looking to reduce costs, improve compliance, or increase efficiency, incident management software could be just what you need.

Incident Management Processes: Key Concepts for Maximum Success

By streamlining your incident management processes, you are helping transform the efficiency of your company. You’ll significantly reduce the risk of being fined for non-compliance. You’ll save time when reporting incidents, you’ll be able to deal with them effectively and you’ll be able to take corrective actions when an incident occurs.

Key characteristics of incident management software

Unfortunately, the competitive advantages we just discussed aren’t guaranteed when you invest in incident management software.

You see, leading software will offer these advantages, while lesser options won’t provide your organization with the benefits you are looking for.

Before discussing the key concepts of incident management processes, we need to define what we mean by leading incident management software.

Here are the characteristics of leading incident management software:

  • Instant, real-time communication
  • Location independent
  • Multiple functions
  • Comprehensive notification suite
  • Analysis, tracking, and investigation

Let’s look at these characteristics in more detail below.

  1. Instant, real-time communication

The best software will give your employees the ability to immediately report an incident, no matter where they are. Leading incident management software can be accessed by a range of devices, including computers, mobile devices, and handheld devices. Employees or contractors can enter the details and status of any incident they encounter via a range of methods, such as text, mobile apps, or email.

These reports are then instantly shared in real-time so that everyone has access to the report. Whether there’s a spill, a critical injury, or a recall, your entire organization will have the information they need at their fingertips.

  1. Location independent

If you have staff that must manage multiple locations, incident management software can help them handle this challenge. Software that works across a range of devices, including mobile, handheld and computer, will ensure that all reports and notifications are shared with all staff who have permission to view them.

  1. Multiple functions

Leading incident management software is able to combine multiple functions within one convenient package. This includes safety, environment and quality functions. This multi-function ability makes the software far less expensive and less time-consuming compared with having multiple systems for each function.

Some examples of safety functions would include:

  • Illnesses
  • Injuries
  • Vehicle accidents or crashes
  • Near misses
  • Fire
  • Explosions

Within environment functions, we could include:

  • Loss of environmental containment (spills/leaks)
  • Security breach
  • General complaints
  • Community complaints
  • Plant or equipment damage

Some examples of quality functions would include:

  • Product withdrawal
  • Product recall

One of the key characteristics of leading incident management software is that it can handle multiple functions within one system. This is less expensive to implement and saves your staff time too.

  1. Comprehensive notification suite

The fourth characteristic of leading incident management software is that it offers a comprehensive and customizable notification suite.

This is helpful for a variety  of reasons, including:

  • Workflow notifications
    You can instruct your staff about the correct course of actions.
  • SMS and email notifications
    You can communicate with your staff over multiple channels to increase compliance rates.

Good incident management software offers your staff a wide variety of ways to communicate and receive notifications. This helps meet their needs and preferences and increases compliance with incident reporting, analysis and the like.

The dashboard should be self-configurable by employees so they can receive notifications through their preferred channels (ie. SMS, email, etc.).

  1. Analysis, tracking, and investigation

The fifth characteristic of good incident management software is that it helps with analysis, tracking, and investigation.

This includes the following areas;

  • Root cause analysis
    The software offers insights into the root cause of an incident, helping you predict future occurrences and put safeguards in place.
  • Action allocation and tracking
    The software should be able to allocate resources and help you by tracking how these resources are deployed.
  • Investigation
    Leading software is able to assist you in investigating the incident. For example, if your IT systems crash, the software can pinpoint the root cause of the incident and develop a workflow that helps you avoid a repeat incidence.

Now that we’ve looked at the competitive advantages that incident management software gives you and explored key characteristics of leading incident management software, it’s time to delve into the key concepts for maximum success.

Key concept 1: Real-time reporting and monitoring

The first key concept for maximum success with incident management processes is real-time reporting and monitoring.

The most effective way to implement this is through a cloud-based system that automatically updates your records and databases. As staff members interact with the dashboard, their inputs and updates are shared with everyone else in the organization who has permission to view them.

Real-time monitoring is a key concept because it helps employees stay updated and it helps them take prompt action when an incident occurs.

For example, let’s say that a leak occurs in a warehouse and this is noted by a member of staff. The incident management software wouldn’t have any impact of the physical act of stopping the leak and clearing up the contaminated area; that work would proceed according to company procedures irrespective of whether the business was using paper-based incident reporting or incident management software.

However, what happens after the leak is where you’d see the difference. With paper-based reporting, the incident would take time to work through the different layers of management before arriving on the desk of senior decision-makers. With incident management software, however, every member of staff with permission to view that information would be simultaneously notified in real-time.

Why is this important?

Real-time reporting has several key benefits, including:

  • Faster responses to critical incidents
  • No more inefficient communications as you’d get from a paper-based system
  • Prompter decisions on the course of action
  • Awareness of incidence across the organization
  • Alert other staff of incidents and critical errors

As we’ve shown, real-time monitoring and reporting is a key concept that is critical for maximum success when implementing an incident management process.

Key concept 2: Cross-platform integration

The second key concept for maximum success with incident management processes is cross-platform integration.

Why?

Cross-platform integration ensures that all employees and contractors across an organization with permission to view incident reports and logs can be kept fully in the loop.

To explain how this works, consider that all leading incident management software is cloud-based. This means that employees can view their own customized dashboard via a variety of devices, including computers, mobile devices, and handheld devices.

As the software’s database is stored in the cloud, each employee’s dashboard can be updated in real-time, instantly sharing data with everyone who has permission to view it.

The advantage of this approach is that all responsible parties can be notified simultaneously regardless of which device they are using.

For example, say that a serious injury took place on a property managed by a security firm. Having a paper-based incident reporting management system may mean that the employee involved would have a telephone call with their immediate supervisor, who would then log the incident and notify senior management via email. It may take hours before senior management even becomes aware of the incident.

But with a cross-platform cloud-based incident management solution, the incident management process is much smoother. The employee involved in the incident or their colleague could access the software platform via, say, their mobile device. The report would instantly be shared with everyone in the organization who had permission to view reports, regardless of what type of device they were using.

Notification functions such as sending SMS messages and emails would ensure that everyone was made aware as soon as possible, helping to spur the staff into action.

Key concept 3: Standardization

The third key concept for success is creating a standardized workflow for handling incidents. This concept is especially relevant for large businesses who are looking to standardize incident management processes across multiple locations, premises, or even multiple countries.

Leading incident management processes help standardize the way that employees tackle workflows when handling incidents.

How?

The software itself is able to generate a workflow for dealing with specific issues as soon as an incident is logged.

It can then send automated notifications and reminders to staff, prompting them to take specific actions.

Having the same software across an entire organization means that all employees have a standardized way of dealing with specific incidents, regardless of where they are located.

Standardization can help ensure that a business complies with all applicable regulations, even if their operations are spread across multiple premises.

This reduces the need to investigate the specific practices being employed across organizations and can reduce managerial workloads.

Key concept 4: Automated processes

The fourth key concept for success is the automation of processes. Leading incident management software is able to autonomously y respond to, report, and investigate events.

This is especially prevalent with IT-specific incident management software. Issues with software and hardware such as IT errors, crashes, and downtime can be logged, reported, and investigated automatically by the software without any human intervention.

This has several benefits, including:

  • Reduced investigation costs
  • Increased reporting rate
  • More accurate workflow prognosis
  • Promoted resolution of problems

Automating the process of logging and responding to incidents frees up your staff’s time to work on other areas. They can focus on fixing the problem by following the workflows created by the software instead of spending time searching for a solution.

The appeal for large organizations is that automated processes can save time and training costs too. For example, in a large company with multiple premises, you can expect similar problems to occur in multiple locations. Once the correct solution has been identified in one location, this data can be shared via the incident management platform, helping reduce the time it takes to find the solution for other premises.

Conclusion

In this post, we’ve explored the four key concepts for maximum success when it comes to incident management processes and incident management software.

With the right software, you can realize these and other great benefits.

You know that spreadsheets, paper systems, and carrier pigeons don’t work, so implementing the right incident management software that can help your organization achieve its goals for a safe and secure workplace should be your next step.

Contact us for a demo to see for yourself how our incident management software can meet your needs!

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Incident Management System: A Start-to-Finish Guide in 2019

Incident Management System: A Start-to-Finish Guide in 2019

In our last post, we shared a compact guide to choosing the right incident management software for your company, business or organization. Building on that, we wanted to offer a complete overview of incident management systems, including what they are, how they work and the benefits that they can offer.

In this post, we’re presenting a complete start-to-finish guide to incident management systems in 2019. Our aim for is to give you a complete overview of these systems and explain how they help organizations of all sizes save time, keep their employees safe and boost revenue.

In this start-to-finish guide, we’ll cover the following areas

  1. What is an Incident Management System?
  2. Types of incidents explained
  3. Why invest in an Incident Management System?
  4. Key advantages of Incident Management Systems
  5. Taking your next steps

Let’s go!

1. What is an Incident Management System?

An incident management system is any system that helps an organization respond to, manage or prevent any incidents that occur on their premises or that affect their staff or customers.

The system should cover the following five factors:

  1. Procedures
  2. Software
  3. Communication systems
  4. Equipment
  5. Personnel

These five factors are a critical part of a company’s incident management system, regardless of whether it is paper-based, electronic, or a hybrid system.

Let’s look at them in greater detail:

1. Procedures
The backbone of any incident management system is a list of procedures that staff must follow in the event of an incident, accident, or event.

Traditionally, incident management systems have been paper-based collections of handwritten or printed documents that are filed and stored.

In Australia, most small businesses create a written document called a Safety Statement. This document outlines how the business plans to minimize risk on their premises. It will cover the control measures and risk assessments that need to be conducted to ensure that staff and contractors remain as safe as possible at all times.

While this method of procedure documentation may be referred to as paper-based, documents may be typed on MS Word or Excel and stored electronically, or printed out and stored as hard copies for safekeeping.

2. Software
Many companies utilize incident management software to help them track, manage and respond to incidents as they occur. This software is available to, and used by, all members of the organization, from junior employees to senior stakeholders.

The software is used to:

  • Report incidents.
  • Respond to specific situations.
  • Resolve problems as they occur.

The main benefit of using incident management software is that all members of an organization are kept updated and informed about incidents in real-time.In the event of a physical incident, incident management software can notify the relevant stakeholders and suggest an appropriate workflow for responding to the incident. In the case of IT-related software, the software itself is able to initiate certain responses to problems, such as rebooting a server in the event of a crash, for example.

3. Communication systems
All companies need a communication system in place in order to implement their incident management system.

A communication system could include some or all of the following options:

  • Telephone
  • Email
  • Instant messaging platforms
  • SMS

One of the advantages of investing in incident management software is that it provides a communication system for a company’s employees to use. Staff can use the software’s platform to keep in touch with each other and monitor incidents as they occur.

For example, when an incident happens, staff can use the incident management platform to file an incident report. The software then sends email and/or SMS notifications to other members of the organization and critical stakeholders, alerting them to the situation in real-time.

As all communications are in one place, the platform provides a holistic communication system for all members of the organization to use. They can track, monitor and resolve incidents along the way, through a variety of channels including messages, notifications, and updates.

4. Equipment
The fourth key factor in any incident management system is the equipment used by employees. This includes the physical devices used to access the incident management software (such as laptops and mobile devices) as well as any equipment required to deal with the incidents.

Common communication equipment includes:

  • Computers and laptops
  • Mobile devices
  • Handheld communication devices such as walkie-talkies

Most incident management software platforms have their own app designed to work with iOS and Android devices. This means that personnel can simply install the app on their work or personal mobile devices to gain access to the platform at their convenience.

5. Personnel
The fifth factor necessary for an incident management system to be effective is personal. This includes a company’s employees, but may also include contractors who must be trained to respond to incidents.

Employees must be trained to:

  • React to incidents
  • Understand the nature of various incidents
  • Follow the correct procedures when responding to incidents

To ensure that all employees work together in the event of an incident or emergency, the employer must provide comprehensive training. However, today’s incident management software is able to generate workflows for staff can follow. These are written procedures that help staff deal effectively with specific incidents.

Software-generated workflows help ensure that those who are first to respond to an incident have as much data as possible. They are better able to respond in the shortest amount of time and maintain effective communication during emergency situations.

2. Types of incidents explained

Now that we’ve looked at what an incident management system is, it’s time to turn our attention to the types of incidents that are commonly dealt with.

Incidents will tend to fall into one of the following three categories:

  1. Physical incidents
  2. Environmental issues
  3. IT-related issues

Each of these four categories requires different types of responses, with different procedures.

1. Physical incidents
In this category, you’ll find general or community complaints, general illnesses among staff, and serious injuries or illnesses involving staff and contractors. This category also covers incidents such as fires, explosions, motor vehicle collisions, and near misses.

2. Environmental issues
This category covers damage to either the organization’s premises or equipment, loss of environmental containment (spills and leaks) and security breaches.

3. IT-related issues
IT-focused incident management software helps employees resolve IT issues such as using specific software, dealing with server failure, or other issues that lead to downtime. Unlike physical and environmental issues, IT-related issues can often be responded to automatically by the software. This may help resolve the incident without any human intervention. For example, if a company’s server crashes, incident management software may be able to restart the server to resolve the incident.

3. Why invest in an Incident Management System?

As we’ve shown, most organizations use paper-based incident management systems, built around Safety Statements to respond to and address incidents. So why would an organization invest in a software or cloud-based incident management system?

There are four main reasons why an organization would want to invest in improving or upgrading their incident management system:

  • Improving employee safety
  • Saving time
  • Minimizing risk
  • Maintaining and/or increasing profits

Improving employee safety
Well-designed incident management systems can give a company a powerful combination of data and communication tools that can help it respond to incidents faster. Potentially, this can save time and, in emergency situations, it may even save lives.

Saving time
The main benefit of having a software or cloud based system is that all communication channels are combined. Organizations that use incident management software can accomplish more in less time than if they were using a paper-based system. For example, incident reporting with a software-based system takes a fraction of the time of compiling a paper-based report.

Minimizing risk
Incident management systems help improve employee safety by giving a company real-time situational awareness. This helps ensure that employees receive the most appropriate support at the earliest opportunity, helping to prevent incidents from escalating.

Maintaining and/or increasing profits
In Australia, firms are legally responsible for reporting serious harm incidents to the relevant statutory authorities. Robust incident management systems can help automate this process, ensuring that the organization doesn’t fall foul of laws and become subject to fines that may adversely affect their profitability.

4. Key advantages of Incident Management Systems

A well-designed incident management system offers the following key advantages:

  1. Preparedness to deal with incidents
  2. Effective communication within an organization
  3. Increased safety for employees, clients, and contractors

To understand more about these key areas, we’ll look at each in more detail.

1. Preparedness to deal with incidents

One of the top advantages of a robust incident management system is that all employees are sufficiently prepared to deal with a wide range of incidents. In the event of an emergency, first responders will have a clear idea of any hazards they may encounter and will have been trained how to respond.

In addition to training, the incident management system will give employees the tools they need to deal with various scenarios. This may include interactive maps of the location, CCTV points, utility shut-off points, first-aid kit locations, and access points.

Using the incident management software platform, staff can report incidents and keep the entire organization aware of their actions in real-time. The platform enables other employees to offer guidance or advice and lets critical stakeholders see the specific actions that were taken and how the incident was resolved.

A key advantage of using incident management software is that it lets senior management retrospectively look at how past events unfolded. They can identify pain-points that prevented the issue from being resolved faster and find ways of improving response times in the future.

2. Effective communication within an organization

The second key advantage of having a well-designed incident management system in place is that it provides staff with effective communication channels at all times. All leading software platforms are cloud-based meaning they can be accessed from any computer or mobile device with internet access.

This ensures that incident reporting takes place in real-time, with all members of the organization able to track incidents as they occur.

The communication channels can be highly customized so staff can receive communication according to their preferences. This could include SMS messages, emails or push notifications, as they choose.

In an emergency situation, the incident management software provides a timeline of communications so that senior managers can track the flow of communications and see whether the incident was escalated or resolved, and how. This gives key personnel real-time situational awareness.

Some incident management software is able to act as an emergency notification system. This means it can be used to report emergency incidents such as fires or spills as soon as they occur. During an incident, the system will keep contact with all employees via a range of communication channels including voice, SMS messaging and email.

For example, in the event of an emergency situation, the first staff member on the scene could initiate contact with emergency operators, all via the incident management system’s platform. This reduces the response times of emergency services.

3. Increased safety for employees, clients, and contractors

The third key advantage of incident management systems is that risks to employee’s safety can be minimized and managed. Incident management software that offers a smartphone app provides employees with direct access to the incident platform at all times. If they notice a problem, see something suspicious or have any issues, they can alert their supervisors and senior managers with ease.

Some incident management software even lets employees called 911 or alert onsite security with the press of a button. This can ensure that critical data is delivered instantaneously and can help shorten response times.

5. Taking your next steps

This start-to-finish guide has explained everything you need to know about incident management systems in 2019.

While some organizations will continue to rely on basic safety statements and paper-based procedures, an increasing number of companies are choosing to adopt incident management software to facilitate their overall incident management system. The right software can help any organization achieve its goals for a safe and secure workplace.

Contact us for a demo to see for yourself how our incident management software can meet your needs!

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The Compact Guide to Choosing Incident Management Software

The Compact Guide to Choosing Incident Management Software

Are you curious about how to choose the best incident management software for your organization?

If so, we’ve got you covered with this compact guide!

We’ll explain everything you need to know about how to choose the best incident management software for your company, business or organization.

Choosing the right software can be challenging, and, while investing in software can bring plenty of advantages, there are also plenty of traps and pitfalls to watch out for along the way.

So whether you’re a small business owner looking to improve the way you handle incidents, or you’re looking for a way to harmonize incident management procedures across multiple facilities, we’re here to help.

We’ll explain the benefits of the leading incident management software packages on the market today and show you the exact steps you need to follow in order to choose the best software for your needs.

In this compact guide, we’ll be discussing things like:

  • What is Incident Management Software?
  • Who needs Incident Management Software?
  • Types of Incident Management Software
  • What can Incident Management Software do?
  • Why is Incident Management Software important?
  • What to look for when choosing Incident Management Software
  • Taking your next steps

Sound fair? Then let’s go!

What is Incident Management Software?

Incident Management Software is any software that helps a company, business or organization record, manage and investigate any incidents that occur on their premises or involve their staff.

When an organization starts using incident management software, it will typically make the software available to employees via computers, smartphones, and tablets. As everyone has access to the same software, members of staff can report incidents as they occur. Senior stakeholders such as members of the management team can track how each incident is responded along the way.

Incident management software can help with:

  • Reporting incidents
  • Investigating incidents
  • Analyzing incidents
  • Taking proactive actions

Who needs Incident Management Software?

Incident management software is available for companies, businesses, and organizations across almost all work disciplines.

This includes fields in the following areas:

  • Safety
  • Environment
  • Quality assurance
  • Product quality
  • Business management
  • IT/DevOps

Organizations across almost every industry can benefit from having some form of incident management software.

Types of Incident Management Software

We can group incident management software into two main categories:

  • Incident management software for physical operations
  • Incident management software for IT/DevOps

Let’s look at both of these categories in greater detail!

Incident management software for physical operations

Many businesses are primarily concerned with physical incidents such as injuries, spills, and accidents that occur on their premises. Firms in the building and construction sectors and agricultural sectors will generally fall into this category. They need incident management software that helps them monitor when accidents take place and how to minimize the chances of similar incidents occurring in the future.

These organizations are generally less concerned with logging and dealing with IT-related incidents, however they may have separate incident management software for that purpose.

Incident management software for IT/DevOps

IT-focused incident management software is specifically designed to address IT challenges such as crashes and errors. Firms that invest in this type of software may be less concerned with logging physical incidents, although they may have separate software for that purpose.

IT-specific incident management software is used as part of an organization’s overall IT management strategy alongside identity management, mobile device management, and service desk solutions. This software can help automate tasks, reduce downtime, increase coloration and unify projects.

Let’s look in greater detail at how incident management software does this.

What can Incident Management Software do?

Incident Management Software, whether it is focused primarily on physical incidents or IT issues can help with the following tasks:

  1. Reporting incidents
  2. Investigating incidents
  3. Analyzing incidents
  4. Responding to incidents

Let’s break these tasks down:

1. Reporting incidents

The main purpose of incident management software is to help an organization’s staff report incidents. Every organization, large or small, experiences incidents from time to time.

These could be categorized into one of three main groups:

  • Physical incidents
  • Environmental incidents
  • General incidents

Physical incidents include:

  • A near hit or miss
  • Staff/contractor injuries/serious illness
  • Fires
  • Explosions
  • Motor vehicle collision

Environmental incidents include:

  • Plant or equipment damage
  • Loss of environmental containment (spills/leaks)

General incidents include:

  • General complaints
  • Community complaints
  • Product withdrawal or recall

Incident management software helps organizations streamline the process whereby staff and contractors can report all of these types of incidents. With the incident management software platform shared among all staff and senior management, incidents can be logged in real-time.

Incident management software that focuses on IT/DevOps can help with reporting of:

  • Digital incidents and errors
  • Frequency of downtime and crashes

2. Investigating incidents

The second benefit of incident management software is that it helps an organization investigate any incidents that occur.

The incident management software platform contains a clear record of:

  • Where the incident occurred
  • Who witnessed and documented it
  • Any follow up actions that were taken

Incident management software can streamline the investigation process by giving access to all members of an organization.

However, IT/DevOps software can go one step further. It can not only alert staff of an incident with their company’s software or hardware, but it can automatically generate a report of the problem and initiate a workflow as well. This helps ensure that the error is responded to in the proper sequence and reduces the response time, helping to address the incident sooner.

3. Analyzing incidents

As we’ll explain in our upcoming start-to-finish guide on incident management systems, incident management software not only helps with reporting and investigating incidents. It also helps with analysis too.

For example, incident management software can track where incidents are occurring and notify senior management, prompting them to take action.

If a spate of incidents occurs in a particular location, specific safety precautions and procedures can be put in place to help manage the risk.

As we discussed, IT/DevOps software can automatically generate a report of the problem and create a workflow. This helps ensure that the error is responded to in the proper sequence. It also curbs the effects of major IT incidents by bringing the right information to the right people instantly, for faster response times.

4. Responding to incidents

Incident management software used to report and log physical incidents will lead to faster response times. It can bring critical information to the right people to ensure that problems are dealt with promptly. The software can provide immediate notifications to all affected staff and senior management.

IT/DevOps software also offers similar benefits as we’ve discussed.

Why is Incident Management Software important?

Incident management software has a number of benefits including;

  • Automated incident reporting
    When it comes to incident management processes, streamlining the process of reporting incidents is one of the key concepts for maximum success.
  • Instant notifications
    Notifying relevant persons with inbuilt workflows for incident management and investigation.
  • Quick reporting
    Notifying senior management, investigation, corrective actions – all in one centralized database.
  • Ensuring regulatory compliance
    In Australia, certain incidents (such as those that result in significant harm) must be reported to the relevant statutory authority. Incident management software can help automate this process and ensure regulatory compliance. This limits a company’s exposure to potentially expensive compliance offenses that may result in large fines or other punishments.
  • Reduced risk.
    Lowers the risk of excessive costs to the business (from fines).

What to look for when choosing incident management software

When choosing incident management software for your organization, there are certain key features and functions that you’ll want to look for.

Broadly speaking, these can be grouped into two main categories:

  • General incident management software functions
  • IT/DevOps-specific features and functions

The category you’ll want to pay the most attention to will depend on your organization’s field and the reasons why you’re looking to implement the incident management software.

General incident management software functions

Regardless of whether you want to log physical incidents or IT-related issues, you’ll want to look for the following features and functionality

1. Safety, Environment, and Quality functions
The first thing to look for when choosing incident management software is that it offers a broad range of functions.

At a bare minimum, the incident management software should be able to:

  • Monitor and alert staff about incidents and critical errors
  • Integrate with team collaboration tools to notify responsible parties

These functions ensure that your organization remains aware of all incidents and you’re your staff are updated in real-time as to progress about how these issues are being dealt with.

However, leading incident management software offers safety, environment and quality function tools, all in one convenient package. This lets you manage any incidents that occur in those three areas through a single incident management software platform. This helps you streamline your incident management processes.

2. Customizable dashboard and reporting options
When choosing incident management software it’s important to look closely at the dashboard and reporting features. Incident management software with self-configurable dashboards and reporting options will give your staff a broad range of ways to configure their dashboards to suit their own particular tastes.

Why’s this important?

If your staff are able to set up their dashboards just how they like them, they’ll be faster and more accurate when they use the incident management software. This should help boost your incident reporting rates and the accuracy of the reports that your staff members generate.

3. Comprehensive notification suite
The notification suite that comes with the incident management software should be comprehensive and customizable. After all, you will be relying on notifications for a wide range of activities such as;

  • Reminding staff to file incident reports
  • Monitoring and alerting staff about incidents
  • Prompting staff to take followup action, following an incident workflow
  • Notifying the relevant statutory authorities whenever a significant harm incident occurs
  • Notifying senior management to conduct investigations and take corrective actions

When choosing an incident management software, you want to ensure that its notification suite can be customized to suit the particular needs of your organization.

Ideally, you’ll want an incident management software that can offer workflow, SMS and email notifications. This will help streamline your organization and ensure the smooth running of your incident management procedures.

4. Analysis, allocation, and tracking
Leading incident management software can conduct root cause analysis whenever an incident occurs to help you identify whether a pattern is occurring. If it is, the software can alert key members of your organization so that they can take preventative, proactive measures.

You’ll also want to look for incident management software that can perform action allocation and tracking. This helps your staff stay informed about the practices and procedures that they need to follow throughout the workflow.

With the incident management software sending automated notifications to remind staff of their duties and responsibilities, you can be assured that incident management software investigations will proceed smoothly.

5. Ease of use
Whichever type of incident management software you choose, there’s no substitute for hands-on testing. Request a demo of the incident management software and see whether it’s easy to use

Ask your staff the following questions:

  • Is it accessible from a range of devices? (tablets, smartphones, computers)
  • Are the devices in your organization compatible with the software?
  • Is the software platform flexible and easily customizable?
  • Does it complement your business processes and procedures?
  • Can the platform be easily used and quickly understood?
  • Can you collate all your important data and documentation into one simple interface?
  • Is the data easily sortable??

Evaluating these areas will take practical hands-on use by your staff. This will take time but will ensure that you pick incident management software that can meet the needs of your staff and your organization.

IT/DevOps-specific features and functions

If you’re choosing an IT-specific incident management software for IT and/or DevOps, you’ll want to consider the above factors. But you’ll also want to consider the following specific areas, too.

  1. Can you create a standardized workflow for IT incident management?
    Just as Safety, Environment, and Quality function-related incident management software should be able to create a standardized workflow to help staff address and tackle incidents as they occur, so too should IT-related incident management software be able to create workflows. This will help you respond to incidents faster, or set up an automated response that is triggered as soon as the incident is detected.
  2. Can the software respond to, report, and investigate IT errors?
    One additional feature that IT-specific incident management software should be able to manage is automatically investigating IT errors.

Taking your next steps

This compact guide has explained everything you need to know about choosing the right incident management software. You know that spreadsheets, paper systems, and carrier pigeons don’t work, so electing the right incident management software that can help your organization achieve its goals for a safe and secure workplace should be your next step.

Contact us for a demo to see for yourself how our incident management software can meet your needs!

OHS Software Packages: Everything You Need to Know

OHS Software Packages: Everything You Need to Know

Is your organization is looking to shift away from paper-based occupational health and safety (OHS) management? If so, you may have heard about OHS software packages and wanted to find out more about them. In this guide, we’ll tell you everything you need to know about OHS software packages, including what they are, how they work and more.

In this guide, we’ll be discussing things like

1. What is an OHS software package?
2. What can OHS software do?
3. Features and functionality
4. Advantages and benefits of OHS software packages

Sound fair? Then lets get right to it!

1. What is an OHS software package?

An OHS software package is a suite of software that helps an organization manage and run its OHS system. This software helps ensure that the organization is in full compliance with all relevant OHS rules and regulations. In short, the software package should be able to cover every aspect of a company’s OHS process.

This includes:

  • Planning for accident and illness prevention
  • Assigning responsibilities for health and safety procedures within the company
  • Planning and implementing practices, resources and procedures for the OHS policy.
  • Maintaining and reviewing the OHS policy.

An OHS software package helps you to understand the cause of incidents and gives you the tools to reduce the chances of future incidents occurring. It can also give you a clear overview of associated costs and this can help you manage risks with confidence.

2. What can an OHS software package do?

An OHS software package is designed to be used in various ways by all members of an organization, from senior management down to junior employees. The most common type of OHS software is cloud-based, meaning that all documents and files are stored remotely on servers. With cloud-based software, all internet-enabled devices (desktop, mobile, iOS, or Android) can access an organization’s OHS documents. Rapid deployment in the cloud means that an organization can have their OHS management software up and running instantly. An easily configurable dashboard allows employees to interact with all OHS documents that are relevant to them.

Employees can:

  • Report accidents and injuries.
  • Report hazards and risks.
  • Receive reminders to complete certain tasks such as routine safety checks.
  • Review completed risks, hazards and incident forms.

Managers can use OHS software to:

  • Receive notifications of all reported accidents, incidents and injuries.
  • View all hazards, risks, incidents and injury forms.
  • Generate reports from the filed incident and risk reports.
  • Communicate with staff and delegate duties and responsibilities.
  • Review training received by staff.

At senior management level, OHS software has the following advantages;

It can:

  • Ensure regulatory compliance and improve consistency across multiple premises.
  • Enhance and facilitate communication.
  • Streamline and standardize OHS practices.
  • Determine cost-effective solutions that make the workplace safer.

OHS Software Packages: Everything You Need to Know

3. Features and functionality

If you’re curious to know more about leading OHS software packages, here’s an overview of the most commonly available features and functionality found in many packages on the market today.

User-friendly interface
OHS software features a clear, simple and intuitive user-interface (UI). Employees will interact with the UI every time they access the OHS software, whether via a web browser or through an app on a mobile device. The UI helps them with the following tasks:

  • Create and file incident, accident and injury reports
  • Conduct and file a risk assessment.
  • View stored documents (if access is provided).
  • Managers can view employee OHS training records.

OHS software can be managed by senior staff so that each member of the organization is given certain access permissions. A junior-level employee may be able to create and save an incident report, but likely wouldn’t be given permission to view other stored documents. Managers may be able to view documents and the training records, but likely only of staff within their department and not across the entire organization.

Easily Configurable Dashboard
When employees access the OHS software’s UI, they are greeted with a dashboard. This shows them the available options, such as creating an incident report or building a chart or report from available data. This dashboard is easily configurable and can be customized so that each member of staff is presented with only the actions and options for which they have permission. A company’s senior management or IT department is able to create unlimited configurations for each member of staff. However, even non-technical users are able to configure the appearance of their own dashboard to suit their preferences.

International Integration
An OHS software package can be adjusted to suit multiple languages, time zones, currencies, and formats. This helps employees interact with and use the package, no matter where in the world they are located. It is also possible to integrate the software with other applications such as web services and API, for added convenience.

Software functionality
An OHS software package offers a wide range of software functionality. This includes the following areas:

  • Hazards, risk, incidents and injury reporting
  • Risk assessments
  • Action management
  • ‘Open’ workflows
  • Automated reminders
  • Dashboard reports

We’ll look at each of these areas separately.

Hazards, risk, incidents and injury reporting
The primary function of an OHS software package is to let employees and/or contractors report hazards, risks, incidents and injuries as they occur. For example, if an employee sees a colleague slip and fall, they would use the OHS software to write and submit an incident and injury report. They would access their dashboard through a desktop or mobile device and then create and submit their observation of what happened.

With a cloud-based OHS software package, this completed incident and injury report is uploaded to the cloud and will automatically be made available to all members of the organization who have permission to view such documents. To encourage compliance, some OHS software packages include mobile apps. Apps make it easier to complete reporting duties and this encourages employees to submit forms in a timely manner. Organizations that use OHS software with mobile apps find that staff engagement levels improve, greatly supporting the company’s ability to meet its OHS goals.

Risk assessments
The second function of an OHS software package is to help the organization’s senior management conduct risk assessments and decide on a course of action. Cloud-based packages enable management to view all hazards, risk, incidents and injury reports as they are filed. Many packages will automatically notify management as soon as such a report is filed. The software then helps staff process this data and create graphs or reports which can be used to create a risk assessment or develop a further course of action.

Action management
OHS software packages enable employees and/or contractors to report incidents, hazards and near misses with ease. This helps senior staff to collect and review this data and decide upon the best course of action. For example, if an organization identifies that a number of accidents are occurring in a certain section of their warehouse, they can direct staff to conduct a risk assessment and carry out regular safety checks. This helps managers to classify and manage incidents across their entire business and apply cost-efficient strategies that help manage and minimize workplace risk.

‘Open’ workflows
A key feature of cloud-based OHS software packages is that they help staff work together in ‘open’ workflows. Unlike paper-based OHS management systems, cloud-based OHS software lets multiple employees contribute to a document or work on a task in real-time. Access to stored documents is shared with relevant people and this helps build collaboration among staff. Open workflows help an organization save time, ultimately improving its bottom line.

Automated reminders
OHS software can be set up to provide automated reminders to all staff. For example, it can send reminders to workers to complete safety checks. It can also send reminders to management to review collated data or to complete an action such as creating a safety report. Automated reminders help ensure that a company is in compliance with all OHS regulations. OHS software can automatically remind the staff to complete these duties and then alert management as soon as they are completed.

Dashboard reports
One of the most useful features of OHS software packages is that they let employees create dashboard reports. This feature uses data from filed incident and accident reports and can help senior management understand the cause of incidents, their frequency, and their associated costs. Dashboard reports can give staff the necessary data needed to reduce the chance of repeat incidents occurring. This helps an organization create a safe workspace for its staff and manage risks with a greater degree of confidence.

4. Advantages and benefits of OHS software packages

Moving to an OHS software package offers many advantages and benefits compared with a paper-based approach. Here are the main benefits of adopting an OHS software package.

Data accessibility and sharing
The primary benefit of digitizing your OHS documents and moving to a cloud-based OHS software package is that you create what’s called a ‘connected processes’ model. This means that the suite of software can take care of your organization’s health and safety needs by having each piece of software ‘talk’ to the other pieces.

For example, if one of your employees files a ‘Risk report’ and another employee files an ‘Incident report’, an OHS software package can share this information so that it is available to everyone with permission across your whole organization. This reduces admin time and frees up your staff to complete their duties.

Lower costs
OHS software packages can be more cost-effective than having separate systems. Managing things like your risk assessment and training through the same suite of software can keep your costs down.

Performance
An OHS software package typically offers faster performance than relying on paper-based OHS management systems or a number of separate systems. Employees and contractors and quickly pullup all data relevant to them, such as training records, incident reports, and observations. Managers can quickly assign duties to specific staff and receive updates about their progress.

Convenience
Cloud-based OHS software packages that incorporate a mobile app make it far simpler and convenient for staff to complete incident reports in the event of an accident or incident. Easy-to-use app-based reporting makes proactive hazard reporting more likely and this can lead to a reduction in accidents and incidents.

Improved communication
An OHS software package helps to improve communication between staff across an entire organization, making it ideal for medium and large businesses with multiple locations. Employees are kept up-to-date with their tasks and can communicate and share information with their colleagues and managers. This also eliminates duplication of documents, replacing multiple paper files with a single file stored in the cloud that can pull in data from multiple employees.

Enhanced growth
OHS software packages are far simpler and quicker to maintain than paper-based OHS management systems. You will spend less time chasing information from employees and reduce the risk that data or tasks going missing or being left incomplete. OHS software packages will free up your staff’s time and leave them with more time to focus on their duties and responsibilities.

Conclusion

Now that you’ve seen the benefits and advantages of an OHS software package, it is important to take the time to discover which package meets the needs of your organization. Leading OHS software companies have years of experience in building around successful organizations and helping to reduce workplace incidents. The world’s leading employers rely on this software to protect their employees, contractors, and visitors every day.

Whatever stage of the process you are at, whether you are looking to shift from a paper-based system to an electronic one, or are looking for a different software solution, the right OHS software package is just around the corner.

Contact us today to find out how Beakon software can help your organisation achieve its goals for a safe and secure workplace.

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10 Tips for Choosing the Right OHS Software

10 Tips for Choosing the Right OHS Software

In an increasingly digitized world, using a paper-based occupational health and safety (OHS) management system has become less than ideal. The latest OHS software makes it simpler and faster than ever to find important inspection reports, risk assessments and audits when you need them. If you’ve had enough of dealing with mountains of paper and decided to make the change to OHS software, you may find yourself confronted with a bewildering array of choices. Which OHS software should you choose?

In this article, we’ll offer ten tips that should help you choose the right OHS software for your business or organization.

The 10 tips for choosing the right OHS software are:

Tip 1. Look at Build versus Buy
Tip 2. Look for evidence of customer success
Tip 3. Look at mobile capabilities
Tip 4. Consider data protection
Tip 5. Choose transparent pricing
Tip 6. Look for ongoing support
Tip 7. Investigate integration
Tip 8. Check for GDPR compliance
Tip 9. Look at the onboarding journey
Tip 10. Always request a demo

Let’s get right to it!

Tip 1. Look at Build versus Buy

Our first tip for choosing the right OHS software is to familiarize yourself with the differences between building your own in-house OHS management software and paying for a cloud-based OHS system. The best solution for your organization will depend on a variety of factors such as the number of employees, the amount of data and the resources you have available.

Key differences between building and buying OHS software

Complexity
Developing and managing your own in-house software requires skilled staff and ongoing resources that far exceed anything required by cloud-based OHS software solutions. With cloud-based OHS software, you simply pay for what you need; you can always pay more if your data requirements increase in the future. In-house software can require further investment if your OHS data storage requirements increase down the line.

Up-front investment
Cloud-based OHS software is popular with businesses such as start-ups who have limited data needs and restricted cash flow. You start out with a fixed monthly price and have no up-front investment. On the other hand, developing OHS software in-house requires a significant up-front investment in terms of both hardware and personnel.

Scalability
In-house OHS software may quickly cease to be sufficient for your data needs as your company grows. This isn’t an issue with cloud-based software as you can simply rent more storage space and scale up your OHS management software capabilities as and when required.

Understanding these key differences between building and maintaining in-house OHS management software and paying for a cloud-based service can help your organization find the best solution for its needs.

10 Tips for Choosing the Right OHS Software

Tip 2. Look for evidence of customer success

The second tip when choosing the right OHS software is to look for signs that the company behind the software has attained high levels of customer service and success. A winning company should be incredibly proud of their customer service record and will have no qualms about putting you in contact with their satisfied clients. To gauge customer success, you could look at the following areas:

  • Testimonials
    Have clients provided written or video testimonials about their experience using the OHS software?
  • Company history
    Does the company have experience of working with businesses of all sizes across a wide range of industries?
  • Referrals
    Would other firms recommend or refer the OHS software to you?
  • Awards
    Has the company received any industry awards for its customer service?

A reputable company should have a proven track record of helping clients implement their OHS software and should be experienced in terms of onboarding new firms and responding to any system queries they may have.

Tip 3. Look at mobile capabilities

When choosing the right OHS software for your business, it is very important to look at the mobile capabilities on offer. One of the main benefits of moving away from paper files and unwieldy spreadsheets to a software-based OHS management system is that it allows staff to input, manage and review data on the go, whether they are on-site or off-site. The best OHS software solutions offer strong mobile capabilities, such as mobile apps, to help your organization implement its OHS plans.

Leading OHS software solutions have their own mobile app that offers unbeatable advantages compared with software that lacks mobile capabilities. Mobile OHS management apps greatly simplify your employees’ work and enables them to do the following tasks with ease:

  • Report hazards, incidents, and injuries on the go
  • Make risk assessments
  • Work with simple open workflows
  • Receive automated reminders
  • Access dashboard reports

Mobile-capable OHS software management greatly enhances your employee’s participation in your health and safety work. Giving them an easy-to-use app with a clear, simple and intuitive interface makes it more likely that risks and incidents will be reported accurately and in a timely manner. This helps makes your business safer, reduces costs, improves efficiency and ensures that you comply with all regulations.

Tip 4. Consider data protection

Whether you are choosing to migrate your OHS software to a new provider or are implementing a solution for the first time, you’ll want to study data protection very carefully. Always do due diligence and ensure that the software provider is being as upfront and honest with you as possible.

Look for evidence that the company takes data protection seriously. Investigate what technology or precautions are in place to guard against the risk of data loss or theft.

Tip 5. Choose transparent pricing

No matter what stage of the purchasing journey you are at, you should always look for transparent pricing. Some OHS software providers will have secret or hidden costs such as calculating the price based on the number of admins you have.  Look out for hidden costs such as these and be on your guard.

Tip 6. Look for ongoing support

Like any software, no OHS software is perfect and can always be improved. When choosing the right OHS software for your company, you’ll want to look carefully at the level of ongoing support that is offered. Choose software that comes with regular updates and improvements after you make the initial investment.

To find out more about ongoing support, here are a few options to try:

  1. Read the white paper
    Reputable OHS software should have a professionally crafted white paper or technical document that fully outlines the nature of the ongoing support on offer.2. Testimonials or referrals
    Asking about ongoing support is a key topic when you are following the second tip about looking for evidence of customer success. Ask firms that are using the software whether the OHS software is regularly updated and whether they have been satisfied or dissatisfied with the level of ongoing support on offer.

Tip 7. Investigate integration

An important tip for choosing the right OHS software for your organization is to look at how well it integrates with systems you already have in place. It is important for all departments, such as Human Resources and Accounting, to be able to use the software and implement it effectively with their existing hardware and resources.

Leading OHS software providers consistently strive to make integration as simple as possible for their clients. They are experienced in working with a variety of in-house systems such as personal databases, Human Resource, financial systems and many more. They will often offer additional support staff to help with any assistance during the initial set-up period.

Tip 8. Check for GDPR compliance

Now that GDPR has come into force, it is critically important that any OHS software you choose helps you comply with all GDPR regulations. Your HR departments and IT staff are likely already up to speed with this, so it is essential that any OHS software you invest in covers this important area too.

GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) is the new EU regulation for data protection that came into force on 25 May 2018. It matters for any organization that works with and across EU countries and applies even if you are only collecting OHS data for use in your own department. GDPR helps give people more control over their personal data and makes businesses accountable for what they do with the data they collect.

How does GDPR relate to safety data?
Your OHS management system will store a vast amount of personal data including peoples’ names and home addresses. You may also have individual risk assessments for people on work experience or expectant or new mothers. If you have a vehicle fleet, your OHS data almost certainly contains the home address of your drivers. All of this data is affected by GDPR rules.

Whether you still record everything on paper forms or are using Word or Excel to create reports, assessments, and checklists, GDPR still applies to all personal data, so any OHS software you choose should adhere to the six principals of GDPR:

  • Personal data shall be processed lawfully, fairly and in a transparent manner
  • Personal data shall be collected for specified, explicit and legitimate purposes and not further processed in a manner incompatible with the initial purposes
  • Personal data shall be adequate, relevant and limited to what is necessary for processing requirements
  • Personal data shall be accurate and kept up to date
  • Personal data shall be kept in an identifiable form only as long as is necessary for its intended purposes
  • Personal data shall be processed in a secure manner that protects against unauthorized or unlawful access, accidental loss, destruction or damage

If you are in the process of choosing the right OHS software, ask the provider how their software complies with GDPR. Ensure that you understand how to set the correct access levels so that people can only see relevant personal data. For example, your managers wouldn’t need access to the training records of people across their entire organization, only the people within their department. Your organization must be able to prove that it is compliant, so only invest in software that helps you achieve this goal.

Tip 9. Look at the onboarding journey

Implementing any new software solution can be daunting, especially if you are trying to choose the right OHS software. You and your staff need to learn how to use the new software and this inevitably involves organization-wide training. Many of your staff will need ongoing support as they become accustomed to the software. This process is known as the ‘onboarding journey’ and it’s worth looking into before you make a final decision about which OHS software to use.

To find out more, look for testimonials from other firms, or even try to contact them directly if you can. They may be able to tell you how they found the onboarding process with a particular company and whether they felt well supported as they started using the new OHS software.

Most reputable OHS software providers will offer a breakdown of what you can expect from the onboarding journey with their software. They should outline the following areas:

  • What support you and your staff will get in terms of getting the most out of your OHS software
  • What staff will be assigned to you (such as a Customer Support Manager)
  • Details of any ongoing support such as weekly webinars
  • The software training process
  • A typical timeline with milestones when implementing the OHS software

This should give your organization an overview of what to expect from the onboarding process and how long it should take. Most firms adopt a ‘Train the trainer’ approach where they train up a number of your employees who then train their colleagues to use the new software.

Tip 10. Always request a demo

Overall, one of the best tips for choosing the right OHS software is to request a demo. This will give you first-hand experience of the software interface and its functions besides showing you examples of how it could be used to tackle issues in your organization.

Conclusion

These ten tips should help you choose the right OHS software for your company, business or organisation. While OHS software offers many advantages over traditional paper-based systems, a wide range of solutions are available so taking the time to find the most suitable one is essential. These tips should provide a helpful checklist that you can use to find the best option. Good luck!

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OHS Management System: Examples and Key Elements

OHS Management System: Examples and Key Elements

Are you considering whether your organization needs an occupational health and safety (OHS) management system? If so, you’ll likely know that there are many different options available to you. In this article, we’ll look at what OHS management systems are, and offer examples and key elements of various systems to help you understand more about your options.

In this article, we’ll be discussing things like:

  1. What is an OHS management system?
  2. Examples of OHS management systems
  3. Examples of OHS management systems for small businesses
  4. Examples of OHS management systems for medium and large businesses
  5. Key elements of OHS management systems
  6. Key elements of software OHS management system.

1. What is an OHS management system?

OHS is an acronym for Occupational Health and Safety. An OHS management system is part of an organization’s management system and covers the following areas:

  • The occupational health and safety organization in a company
  • The health and safety policy in a company
  • The planning process for accident and illness prevention
  • The line management responsibilities for health and safety procedures
  • The practices, resources, and procedures for developing and implementing the occupational health and safety policy
  • The ongoing practices for maintaining and reviewing the health and safety policy

The system should cover an organization’s occupational health and safety organization in its entirety. This includes everything from planning OHS-related tasks, to developing strategies and procedures, as well as analyzing data and keeping abreast of any changes and updates.

2. Examples of OHS management systems

OHS management systems come in all shapes and sizes and can take a variety of formats. The most common options include:

  • Paper-based OHS management systems
    Traditional OHS management systems use handwritten or printed documents that are filed and stored. Some documents may be typed on MS Word or Excel and then printed for safekeeping. For example many small businesses create a written document called a Safety Statement. This specifies how the business will manage OHS issues and stipulates the risk assessments and control measures needed to minimize risk in the workplace.
  • Electronic OHS management systems
    Electronic OHS management systems can be developed in-house or purchased from third-parties. They are used to store and manage files electronically and provide a user interface for staff members to find, navigate and manage the files. Many smaller organizations purchase software from a third-party while larger businesses develop their own software in-house to better develop, store and manage their OHS system.
  • Cloud-based OHS management system
    Cloud-based OHS management systems are provided by a third party and involve storing OHS-related documents on off-site servers belonging to the provider.
  • Hybrid OHS management system
    Many organizations use a combination of one or more of the above approaches and incorporate paper-based, online, offline, and cloud-based solutions to satisfy their OHS management needs.

3. Examples of OHS management systems for small businesses

Small businesses make up the majority of businesses in Australia and many of the challenges they face are also faced by medium and large organisations. Primarily, they are legally required to provide a safe and healthy working environment for their staff and are compelled to comply with health and safety legislation.

  • Most low-risk small businesses draw up a Safety Statement. This written document specifies how OHS will be managed by the business. It also outlines the risk assessments and control measures needed to minimize risk in the workplace.
  • Some small businesses, especially those in high-risk sectors, may benefit from having access to more resources that traditional safety statements provide. They may find value in buying a cloud-based OHS management system.

4. Examples of OHS management systems for medium and large businesses

Medium and large businesses have many challenges in common with small businesses in that they must provide a safe and healthy working environment for their staff and are compelled to comply with all health and safety legislation. However, they also face specific challenges, such as being spread across several sites nationwide or even internationally.

Medium-sized businesses must have a Safety Statement that outlines how OHS requirements will be managed and show how the company will comply with all relevant laws and regulations.

Large business must also have Safety Statement but face a greater financial cost of non-compliance. Dedicated OHS management software, whether developed in-house or brought in, can help streamline safety processes throughout a large organization. It can help develop consistent rules across multiple sites and ensure that processes are uniform across different locations. Most OHS management systems can help facilitate better communication between departments in large businesses.

5. Key elements of OHS management systems

Regardless of type, all OHS management systems have the following key elements:

  • Policy and commitment
  • Planning
  • Implementation and operation
  • Measuring performance
  • Auditing and reviewing performance

We’ll discuss each of these five areas in greater detail.

Policy and commitment
First and foremost, OHS management systems must help organizations prepare an occupational safety and health policy program that is fit for purpose. This program must set a clear direction for the organization to follow and must demonstrate a commitment to continuous improvement. It must also meet the expectations of all stakeholders, whether they are shareholders, employees, customers or society.

Planning
The second element of an OHS management system is that it helps an organization create a plan that sets out how it will fulfill its health and safety policy. This includes any arrangements and management structures required for an organization to meet its health and safety objectives and targets.

Implementation and operation
Thirdly, OHS management software should outline how an organization plans to implement its health and safety policy and meet its objectives and targets. This includes how it will motivate employees to work safely, avoid accidents and protect their long term health. In terms of operation, the OHS management system should help an organization in the following areas:

  • How to involve staff to participate in the OHS process, via safety committees and safety representation system.
  • How staff members are empowered to make responsible and informed contributions to the health and safety program.

How assessment methods are used to eliminate risks, through the selection and design of equipment, facilities, and processes. If risks cannot be eliminated, there should be ways of minimizing risk through safe systems and physical controls.

Measuring performance
Fourthly, the OHS management system should outline how the organisation plans to measure, monitor and evaluate safety and health performance. It will state the standards against which performance will be measured and state whether active self-monitors or reactive monitoring will be used to guard against or respond to accidents, ill health, and incidents.

Auditing and reviewing performance
The fifth element of OHS management systems is to state how an organization plans to review and improve its health and safety management system. This covers legal responsibilities, reference to key performance indicators, external comparison with the performance of business competitors and best practice in the organisation’s employment sector. This helps companies report on how well they have performed on worker safety and health in their annual reports and how they have fulfilled their responsibilities with regard to preparing and implementing their Safety Statements.

OHS Management System: Examples and Key Elements

6. Key elements of software OHS management systems

Software OHS management systems have the same basic elements as paper-based systems. However, they also have a number of unique elements that are not found in paper-based OHS management systems. These elements are:

  • Mobile Capabilities
  • Cloud-based
  • Connected Processes
  • User-friendly

We will outline each of these elements below and show how they relate to software OHS management systems.

Mobile Capabilities
Most software OHS management systems offer a range of mobile capabilities. They allow employees and/or contractors to access and edit safety documents and procedures via mobile devices. This works using a special app, developed especially for OHS management system.

Using the app, staff can make observations and report hazard no matter their location. This helps to engage your workforce with health and safety rules and procedures, and helps you meet your OHS goals.

Easy-to-use mobile capabilities such as apps can help employees feel part of the safety process. Mobile apps can make it easier for everyone to participate in the process and feel part of the team. This also eliminates tedious paper-based reporting and helps improve efficiency by reducing the time it takes for staff to comply with OHS procedures.

Cloud-based
Many OHS management systems are cloud-based and make it easier for organizations to manage and meet their OHS goals. Cloud-based systems make it far simpler for businesses of all sizes to share actions, tasks and compliance data throughout an entire organization. As everything is run online, employees can quickly access data on any internet-enabled device, no matter where they are. This helps managers create and assign duties, share reports and updates, from any location.

Cloud-based OHS management systems will let senior management see whether activities and duties are being completed. This helps improve regulatory compliance and improve the efficiency of data collection and reporting by putting all OHS data in a single, centralized location. Any incident logs can be quickly accessed, tracked, managed and analyzed to help avoid them in the future.

Connected processes
Most software OHS management systems adopt a ‘connected processes’ approach that makes health and safety management far simpler. A connected OHS management system is one where all the processes are integrated and a change to one process is automatically saved and made available to everyone using the system. This can make your work life far simpler by greatly simplifying the OHS management processes.

For example, a connected OHS management system can offer the following tasks:

  • Automatically log incident reports
  • Use data to generate reports
  • Conduct analysis of OHS incidents and reports
  • Make suggestions about future tasks and improvements

User-friendly
The fourth key element of software OHS management systems is that they are far more user-friendly than paper-based systems. The software interface is fully customizable and offers functionality that far surpasses what can be accomplished with paper-based approaches. For example, the software interface is clear, simple and intuitive and lets employees accomplish the following tasks:

  • Report incidents, injuries, hazards, and risks.
  • Conduct risk assessments
  • Manage accidents
  • Receive automated reminders.
  • Work within simple ‘open’ workflows
  • Generate dashboard reports

As you can see, software OHS management systems offer a range of unique benefits that aren’t available to paper-based systems. The software helps employees understand the cause of accidents and gives them the tools to reduce the chances of a repeat accident. The software also helps organizations understand associated costs and confidently management risks.

Benefits of software OHS management systems
Software OHS management systems have many unbeatable advantages of traditional paper-based OHS systems. These include:

  • Improving incident reporting rates
  • Reducing risks and incidents
  • Improve employee efficiency by reducing the time taken to complete paperwork
  • Enhance a company’s compliance with OHS legislation
  • Protect a company’s reputation by reducing risk.
  • Identify and develop cost-effective strategies, thus minimizing lost time.
  • Improve competitiveness by reducing time spent on staffing costs.
  • Develop communication, especially with large organisations spread across several locations

Overall, software OHS management systems let businesses manage their OHS strategies across their entire organization, helping to reduce the risk of accidents and injuries while protecting themselves against non-compliance legislation.

Conclusion

With a wide variety of OHS management systems available, there’s never been a better time to consider whether your organization in on the right track. Our outline of the types and examples of OHS management systems show that many businesses would benefit from reviewing their OHS provisions on a regular basis.

If you’re still taking unnecessary risks with the safety of your staff and your reputation as an employer, don’t. Contact Beakon today and find out how our OHS management system can help protect your business. Our unique software will help your organisation achieve its goals for a safe and secure workplace.

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