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Safety Management Insights

What We’ve Learned About Safety Management After 10 Years

Posted by Don Brown on Sep 30, 2014 8:30:00 AM

Safety_Management_1Ten years ago, Google raised $1.67 billion with its initial public offering. The Red Sox won the World Series for the first time since 1918, breaking the curse of the Great Bambino. It was an unforgettable year—the same year we founded our company. 

When our president Kevin Shoemaker started BasicSafe, many manufacturing companies were using a combination of Excel spreadsheets and various software systems to manage their daily processes, but there was no “one stop shop” to manage safety from the plant floor level. We knew we could set ourselves apart from other mainstream software engineering companies by combining software engineering and safety management.

We wanted our software system to offer more than just a high-level overview of what was working. We wanted tools employees could use right from the shop floor, where safety actually happens. 

So we went directly to the safety managers and talked to them about their needs. Then we developed safety management tools in a way that would be most useful to the people actually using them.

Since then, our safety software has evolved from just four tools to nine and counting. We’ve expanded our offerings to include tools for managing environmental compliance, people and equipment violation and auditing. 

We’ve had to constantly adapt to meet changes in regulations and the changing needs of our clients, but when it comes to what counts, we haven’t changed.

Here are three things we’ve discovered over the last 10 years that have made us a better safety software company: 

Effective Safety Management Is Holistic

When safety managers first use our tool, they’re often surprised what a difference it makes to consider the bigger picture of safety, rather than looking at a single program at a time. 

In many cases, managers still look at safety with binocular vision, focusing on a single problem. If a worker is injured because a machine releases hazardous energy while turned off for maintenance, safety managers immediately think they need a lockout/tagout program. BasicSafe has a lockout/tagout program, but its value really comes from the fact that it works together with other programs, such as audit management. If a manager notices a LOTO tag is missing, he or she can report it immediately through the audit management software, and make sure someone is held accountable for replacing it. 

When safety managers have control over all aspects of safety and are able to use them together, they find they don’t have to focus so much on their incident rates. This is due to the fact that, as they improve the overall process, the number of incidents naturally decreases. 

Safety Must Be Sold

It’s unfortunate, but we’ve found many safety managers don’t get the support or respect they deserve from their management. Safety isn’t a chief concern until someone gets hurt and files a workers’ compensation claim. 

That’s not the way it should be, but it’s the reality. 

Safety managers must do more than oversee safety procedures; they must sell them to their management team - and continue to do so long after their budget proposals have been approved. 

That means regularly reporting the high-level statistics to management, and demonstrating that their safety management program has directly resulted in improvements. 

That’s why we’re building higher level overviews into our safety software systems. Managers of multi-site corporations should be able to look at a single dashboard and find out how all their facilities are performing in key indicators. We want to train them to focus on the leading indicators, such as the number of successfully completed safety audits, rather than the lagging ones. 

Employees Have to Be Involved In Their Own Safety 

One thing that still surprises us is when we encounter companies that are reluctant to implement a safety database that all employees can access.

Our software allows managers to decide who should be granted administrative privileges, so giving employees access doesn’t mean giving up control. 

It just means giving them access to the information they need to stay safe. BasicSafe’s software tools are so simple that anyone can learn to use them with minimal training. 

When employees get involved in the process, whether it’s updating a job safety analysis, conducting an audit or accessing safety data sheets to look up a particular chemical, they tend to take more responsibility for workplace safety procedures. 

They feel more confident about doing their job because they have the sense that management has their best interests in mind. 

That makes employees more engaged in the safety process, more productive and, ultimately, less likely to be injured. 

As we look to the future, we’ll continue to invest in upgrading and improving our software tools to make safety management easier for everyone, whether they are a line employee, a safety manager on the plant floor or the company CEO. 

To learn more about how BasicSafe can work for your company, contact us for a free demo. Contact Us Today!