Notify Technology | May 28, 2024 | Blog

Reactive vs. Proactive Safety Management: What’s the Difference?

The difference between reactive and proactive safety management

There are lots of actions you can take to prioritise safety in your workplace. From minimum requirements like carrying out risk assessments and incident reporting, to reviewing and updating your software, you already know the steps to take to sustain a positive health and safety culture. But have you thought about how the timing of your actions affects the impact your safety practices have?

Defining whether your organisation has a reactive or proactive approach to workplace safety is key to improving the health, happiness and productivity of your team. In this blog, we’ll take a look at what we mean by reactive and proactive safety management. We’ll examine why a proactive approach is the one you should adopt and look at some ways that digital software can drive a proactive safety culture in your organisation.

What is reactive safety management?

Reactive safety management is an approach that relies on taking action after an incident has occurred. A reactive approach includes responding to incidents when they happen and carrying out investigations following an accident or a serious injury. They also might include assigning staff to a particular investigation that is relevant to their area of work or organising health and safety training for a team in response to an incident in their department.

But surely all of these actions are examples of good safety practices? Absolutely. Reactive safety management is an important part of creating a positive workplace safety culture. On its own, however, reacting to events is not enough to ensure your employees and their working environment are protected from harm.

What is proactive safety management?

Unlike reactive safety management, proactive safety management is an ongoing process. The proactive approach to health and safety is all about taking steps to spot hazards and implement preventative measures to stop accidents from happening in the first place. Organisations with a proactive approach don’t wait for an incident to occur before they make changes; they are continually looking for ways to improve health and safety in their workplace.

What does this look like in practice? Proactive safety management can include carrying out regular risk assessments, safety audits and inspections and pre-activity checklists, as well as sharing findings and updates with your employees. Regular staff training and creating a culture that encourages the reporting of observations, hazards and near misses are also important. As well as day-to-day actions, looking at the ‘big picture’ of your company’s safety data is key. Analysing this information to spot trends and identify potential risks / area’s of concern will help you continuously improve and strengthen your safety strategy for the long term, highlighting hazards and preventing incidents before they become a material danger.

Which safety strategy should I adopt?

When considering the benefits of both safety strategies, there are arguments for why you might prioritise one over the other. Reactive safety management is less costly to implement as it relies on existing systems and data. You can effectively take steps to prevent incidents that have already happened from happening again. The chances are you’re already including your teams in incident reporting to a certain extent, so there is already a degree of employee engagement that you can rely on. But what about future incidents or hazards that haven’t been identified yet?

While reacting quickly and effectively in the wake of an incident is a core part of good safety management, prioritising a proactive approach is the best way to prevent accidents before they occur. Over time, proactive safety management will reduce the number of incidents by focusing on identifying trends and patterns before they become serious issues.

Proactive management highlights health and safety as an important part of daily working. It requires regular and ongoing action from everyone in your organisation and can evolve as your teams become more effective at identifying hazards and risks. So while implementing new proactive strategies could incur some initial upfront costs, it can save your business significant sums of money, time and resources in the long run.

How to drive a proactive safety management strategy with safety software

Now we know the reasons why companies should prioritise a proactive approach to health and safety, let’s look at the steps you can take to drive that strategy forward. A successful safety strategy relies on collecting and analysing data from across your organisation. With the right safety software in place, you can simplify and accelerate your organisation’s ability to implement a proactive approach.

Here are some areas where digital tools can support your proactive safety strategy.

Risk assessments

When it comes to proactive safety management, regular risk assessments can be an easy way to identify hazards on an ongoing basis. When you use the right risk assessment software, you can save time and money, all while effectively communicating findings with your employees. With Notify’s software, you can create and update risk assessments on the go, remotely capturing hazards from wherever you are working. You can then share risk assessments digitally with your teams, assign tasks to employees and track the actions taken around any identified hazards.

Employee engagement

One of the best ways to improve your employees’ engagement in workplace health and safety is to make it simple for them to take ownership. With digital safety software, this is easier than ever.

If you make hazard spotting and near miss reporting accessible and straightforward, your employees are more likely to capture safety events and play an active role in preventing incidents. With Notify’s user-friendly app, employees can report hazards, near misses or any other type of safety event from their mobile or tablet, in real time. Managers and health and safety teams can respond to immediately, even if teams are working remotely. As a result, employees can get speedy feedback and quickly understand what steps are being taken to mitigate the risk. When your teams know their reporting is being seen and taken seriously, they are more likely to play an active role in promoting positive safety behaviours.

Timely and accurate audits

Like risk assessments, carrying out regular workplace safety audits and inspections is central to a proactive safety culture. And like risk assessments, creating and completing audits can be a time-consuming task. This is where Notify’s audit management software can help. Our audit template builder makes it easy to create and customise your audit, ensuring you can collect the data you need accurately and consistently. With our mobile app, any competent person in your organisation can carry out an audit from any location, in real time. When an audit is complete, you can use Notify’s action tracking module to get those important changes and improvements underway by digitally assigning corrective or remedial tasks to your colleagues and employees.

Big picture reporting

When it comes to proactive safety management, being able to see and analyse safety data from across your organisation is key. Digital safety software makes visualising the impact of your safety measures quick and easy, enabling you to pick out trends in the data, highlight blind spots in your existing safety procedures and take speedy action for proactive risk mitigation.

Notify’s safety intelligence dashboards bring your data to life, allowing you to track investigations, follow up on actions, and save time by automatically updating report. Having all your safety data in one place means you can make informed, proactive safety decisions with confidence.

Updated safety software

When you implement a proactive safety strategy, you’ll notice that your health and safety practices evolve as you collect more and better data. This means that your software should evolve too. With Notify as your health and safety partner, you can choose the digital tools that work best for your organisation, whatever stage you’re at on your safety journey. Thanks to our customisable modules and dedicated support team on hand, taking proactive steps to keep your employees and business safe is easier than ever before.

Managing your workplace health and safety effectively means taking proactive steps to improve your safety practices and procedures. Reactive methods like timely accident reporting and investigations are important, but the best way to drive impactful change is to create a proactive health and safety culture that can help to prevent accidents occurring in the first place.

Notify Technology offers a range of solutions to support proactive safety management. From mobile apps to improve employee engagement to software that takes the stress out of your SHEQ audit, Notify is your expert health and safety partner. Book your free demonstration today and see how Notify Technology can help give your workplace health and safety a head start.

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