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5 Tips for a Streamlined Safety Observations Program

How can you proactively promote safety in your organization if you don’t know where safety risks exist? Identifying safety issues is a critical first step to addressing these issues. An effective way to identify hazards is through safety observations. A safety observations program can help employees and management work together to prevent safety incidents and maintain a positive safety culture.

What Are Safety Observations?

Safety observations are a means of identifying safe and unsafe conditions or actions in a work area during a given time period. Safety observations can come in the form of a formal, thorough inspection of a jobsite or can consist of intermittent observations over time as needed. Safety observations differ from incident reports or incident management processes, which come into play after a safety incident, such as an injury or accident, has occurred. 

A safety observations program is the system or set of procedures a company has in place for collecting and managing safety observations. These programs are a helpful way of discovering risky behavior or conditions before they lead to incidents. It also helps to create a safety-first culture in your company, involving every team member in maintaining a safe working environment.

Now, let’s look at five tips to help you implement an effective safety observations program in your organization.

1. Encourage a Culture of Proactive Safety 

A safety observations program will only be successful if workers and managers all place a high priority on safety. A study of a medical center that achieved a 59 percent reduction in injury claims found that promoting a safer workplace started with leadership encouraging a speak-up culture.

Instating a safety observation system is an excellent way to encourage this speak-up culture. Encourage workers to submit positive observations along with negative ones so you can celebrate positive safety practices. Some workers may be hesitant to call out another employee engaging in risky behavior. To encourage these workers to share their observations, you can allow anonymous submissions. 

2. Create a Checklist for Guidance

Sometimes, employees may be unclear on what should constitute a safety observation. It can be extremely helpful to create a checklist that guides users through some things to watch out for. This is especially helpful for formal inspections, but it can also assist employees as they make informal safety observations.

There are a few different ways to create a safety checklist. You can group safety concern areas by location, tasks, or other means. The key is to get specific and ensure the items included are directly relevant to your operations. 

3. Train Employees in Making Safety Observations

Research indicates that people only speak up about 39 percent of the time when they see something unsafe. A variety of issues can prevent employees from sharing their safety observations. One way you can encourage workers to be forthcoming with safety observations, as we’ve seen, is to encourage a proactive safety culture. 

Another way is to ensure employees are trained in how to submit safety observations. Offer training to cover the purpose of safety observations and how to make them and share them with management. Use examples when possible to demonstrate what effective safety observations look like.

4. Use a Software Platform for Streamlined Safety Observations

Workers and managers alike are more likely to take advantage of a safety observations program if they have a streamlined way to submit and manage observations. 

Choose a digital process management software solution that can facilitate your program, and make sure it’s user-friendly so workers actually use it. A program that isn’t intuitive to use may be enough to keep some workers from submitting an observation and helping you prevent safety incidents. It’s also smart to choose a digital process management platform that’s compatible with mobile devices because this can boost safety program engagement.

Using a software solution for safety observations also means you have a written record of observations on file and have helpful data at your fingertips to help you better understand risks and safety practices in your organization. Some software programs may even be able to automatically detect patterns in your safety data.

5. Be Responsive to Workers’ Observations

Finally, when a worker takes the time to submit a safety observation, be sure you give it the attention it deserves and address the situation proactively. This may mean looking into an issue further, possibly by getting input from other workers or making your own observations. Or it may mean going straight to addressing problems to prevent a safety incident. 

If workers share positive observations, be sure to thank praise them for sharing and use these instances as opportunities to reinforce a positive safety culture. Whatever an employee speaks up, make sure they feel heard.

Empower Your Team with Software Solutions from Pulpstream

Ready to implement a new safety observations program or improve your system with the right software platform? Pulpstream can help you cultivate a culture of safety by giving employees the tools they need to submit documentation, store checklists, and streamline observations. Schedule a demo to learn more!