Tribe Culture Change | 3 reasons why reporting software drags your safety culture backwards
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07 May 3 reasons why reporting software drags your safety culture backwards

Ball and chain
Culture within organisations is influenced by all sorts of factors – the messages people see, the way leaders drive a business and command trust, individuals’ skills, the list goes on. And getting the right culture is about deciding which of these factors are most important and championing them.

Yet one aspect of this process that often gets overlooked is the technology you use to support your culture change journey. Perhaps it feels risky to choose solutions other than what’s already in use? You worry new software is expensive? Or you just don’t see the point of worrying about it at all?

Whatever the reason, traditional health and safety software often introduces more problems than it claims to solve. Designed and tailored for an earlier stage of the culture change journey, it becomes one of the key obstacles preventing your culture from moving forward, and may even be sending it backwards.

Here’s why:

1. Traditional software creates a ‘black hole effect’

The traditional model of database-driven software for reporting accidents (an entry form/screen on some device somewhere) drives a black hole effect. Unless you’ve very good at communication, people worry about what happens to that information and sometimes that concern is justified: it could be used to spy on their behaviour or for recrimination.

And what happens when people worry? They stop sharing!

2. It encourages the ‘I report it you sort it’ phenomenon

When people report things into a database-driven system there’s an immediate expectation it will be dealt with. But who’s on the other end of the system dealing with things? The manager.

Initially that’s great but when you’ve got thousands of near misses or minor incidents then it can quickly become overwhelming. It also isn’t promoting ownership of issues, just palming it off.

3. It diverts attention away from the big issues

Traditional database systems drive a metrics driven approach, which means the safety team miss the bigger, most risky issues. We all know that it’s easy to report the small stuff; PPE issue etc. so that’s what these systems drive in terms of output.
Is that really telling you anything you didn’t know though?

It’s illuminating that the day Deepwater Horizon went up BP were on the rig chatting about high frequency issues, rather than the highest risk issue despite the fact there were clear leading indicators all pointing to impending disaster (there was a similar near miss in the North Sea only four months earlier).

So each of these factors can, if left unchecked, hinder the continuous improvement you’re looking for in attitudes to safety in your organisation.

What’s the alternative?

Well, when you want staff to share meaningful information between communities of people look no further than the modern technology revolution that’s designed for just that: social networks and mobile device apps all play their part here. In fact we’ve already pioneered Engage, our social software for safety, in several large organisations to dramatic, positive effect.

Perhaps it’s time for you to look beyond traditional means of supporting your reporting process? New solutions needn’t be more complicated or expensive, in fact more likely, the result will be a more intuitive system that proactively focuses people’s attention forwards rather than backwards.

Mark Ormond
Mark Ormond