Notify Technology | May 20, 2024 | Blog

Reduce workplace accidents with free learning events

When you think of the word accident, there are usually negative connotations attached to it. Nobody wants to have an accident, obviously, but as professionals in the Health and Safety industry, there are some types of incidents that we can learn from and will help to make the workplace safer. Allow us to elaborate…

Nobody leaves their house in the morning intending to have an accident at work. And fortunately, the vast majority of us manage to get through a whole working day without incident. But you’ll know of someone who’s had a nasty accident, or even worse, at work. And for all you might not have an accident today, there’s a reasonable chance you’ll come close. These are the things we’re trying to spot.

We call these incidents “free learning events”, and this post covers why they’re crucial to progress and development when it comes to an organisation’s Health and Safety culture.

So, what’s a “free learning event”?

In a nutshell, free learning events are circumstances that occur in the workplace that could have caused an accident but didn’t. They are also sometimes referred to as “safety observations” or “near misses”.

We call them “free learning events” simply because they’re free of implication. Nobody was hurt, there are no claims to pay out, no fines to pay, no management time required to investigate and report back, and no HSE Fees for Intervention charges.

They give organisations a valuable opportunity to learn about how to make the workplace safer. They allow you to identify trends in near misses and, crucially, do something about it before an accident or injury occurs.

We like to think of it as turning a negative into a positive.

How can an organisation capture and report free learning events?

You could of course log these free learning events via a handwritten form, which many businesses today still do. For a lot of organisations, it’s a tick-boxing exercise, with data that’s logged once and not looked at again and very little impact delivered as a result.

We believe there’s a better way.

Let’s face it, digital technology has touched pretty much every aspect of our personal and working lives. What’s been lacking for some time is a modern, proactive approach to digital near miss reporting across Health and Safety. This is no longer the case, with modern, mobile-first systems now leading the way in terms of effective collation and processing of free learning events to drive real business impact and proactive risk mitigation.

Employees can use smartphones, tablets, laptops and PCs to complete a quick and simple digital form, and some systems will allow them to upload a picture, tag a location and provide supplementary information or documents. Everything you, as a Health and Safety professional, would need to effectively review the event, assign actions, track progress and crunch the data to better understand trends and potential improvements.

If an accident were to occur, reporting apps enable you to act quickly, as automated notifications can be sent directly to you via text message or email.

The whole process is transparently logged and accessible to whoever it needs to be, allowing feedback to be provided quickly. From an employee perspective, it shows an organisation is taking Health and Safety matters seriously, even when it’s a free learning event, and positive changes can be made as a result.

The benefits of using technology for Health and Safety reporting

Data – and lots of it!

There are so many instances of a free learning event, far more than real life incidents (thankfully!), allowing you to build up a much more comprehensive picture of any risks within the business.

Technology to help with this data collection, such as Notify’s Incident Management and Reporting Module and it’s Safety Intelligence dashboards, enable organisations to gather this much-needed data, and view the insight in real-time.

Encouraging employee engagement

We believe that everyone in the organisation should be able to report a Health and Safety event.

Reporting access for all, allows employees and front line workers to tell management what is happening on the ground, ensuring that safety becomes everyone’s business. It also empowers team members to take accountability for their own Health and Safety, their colleagues’, and the safety of the surroundings they work in.

With an easy to use mobile app, employees can do just that. In just a few clicks, they can report safety observations, hazards, near misses and other types of incidents such as accidents or injuries, from any location. By empowering employees to capture safety events and by engaging them with technology, you can collate more data and more learning for you to proactively make those important safety improvements. The location data and type of safety events can also allow you to prioritise your safety initiatives.

Capture safety events with safety mobile apps

A view of the bigger picture

This benefit is twofold.

Firstly, free learning events can give an insight into staff engagement. They provide managers with an indication of how engaged employees really are with Health and Safety practices and procedures. It can help establish training needs or updates to tools, surroundings and even workwear, depending on the nature of the free learning event.

Second, it helps an organisation be proactive, mitigating risks before they become a real problem.

Organisations that only react to accidents or injuries are missing out on a valuable opportunity to use free learning events to focus their resources in a more effective way and prevent incidents from occurring in the first place.

Efficiency – every business’ favourite word

A good SHEQ software platform can collect data in an efficient way. It can intelligently organise the data by labels such as date, location, employee, work area, type of event, and potential outcome (such as injury, damage or fatality).

Doing this through a paper-based system takes much longer and is costlier because of the amount of administrative work required. Naturally, a digital approach would always be our recommendation.

And there’s more…

Other benefits to your organisation include a reduction in Lost Time Incidents, a more efficient use of resources, quicker visibility no matter where the events take place, and faster closure of corrective actions.

If you are interested in learning how Incident Reporting Software and Mobile Apps can help you capture more learning events and help you reduce risk in your workplace, request a demo of our platform today.

Further reading