The management of incidents at any institution can be a challenging task. With advances in software and modern internet technology, the efficiency and efficacy of those efforts can be greatly enhanced. The use of user-friendly electronic forms can ensure accurate data collection and immediate availability to all users. Within such forms, the careful selection of questions and data entry points can help you and your team collect exactly the data you need for both investigations and prevention. Some of the more powerful incident management software can even allow you to assign sections of incident forms to a variety of appropriate parties, which allows an even greater depth of information gathering. Let’s take a detailed look at each of these key points to explore both their capabilities and benefits.
Electronic forms are undoubtedly the most efficient, accurate, and powerful way to collect data from your users, and incident management is no exception. Electronic forms can be easily accessed by all members of your organization via the internet or mobile application. The data that is collected is easily stored, making reporting and analysis extremely simple. Administrators can even set certain important form questions to ‘required’, so that no critical data is left out by the reporting party.
Form Question Development
When developing incident form questions, it is important to think ahead and consider exactly what information you need to collect. That information must not only cover what happened in the given incident, but it should also provide a clear enough picture such that administrators can make decisions on what can be done to keep it from happening again. After all, the number one goal of any incident management program is learning what happened so that actions (e.g. learning teams, administrative controls, repairs, etc.) can be carried out to prevent it from occurring again in the future.
Data Collection Uniformity
The uniformity of form questions and data collection in general is key in any incident management scenario, especially when the time comes to perform analyses of the data you have collected. Electronic forms lend themselves nicely to things like dropdown or checkbox questions, as well as user or location searches. This guarantees that all data comes in in a highly consistent basis, and is therefore easily comparable and analyzable from incident to incident across your institution.
A very powerful addition to any incident management system is the ability to assign sections of forms to different parties. For any given incident, those parties may include the initial reporter, EHS investigators, area supervisors, human resources, and witnesses, to name a few. The advantage of section assignment is that individual sections can be assigned electronically so that each party can complete their portion of the overall data gathering effort concurrently. The end result is a process that is both highly efficient and very well organized.
The final – and perhaps most important piece – is making sure that your end users are properly trained in how to utilize the incident management system. Every user must have a basic understating of the overall process, from how to start the incident report to how to communicate with EHS managers during the course of the data gathering and investigation. The best way to address this need is by providing access to documentation or job aids, which administrators can make available online for quick and easy reference.
Using Your Data
Now that you have leveraged the power of an electronic incident management system and have begun collecting your incident data, the next question is how to get the most value from it in order to drive the improvement of your safety program. As mentioned earlier, any data collected via electronic forms is easily maintained, and is therefore also readily available for use in tools such as dashboards. With a dashboard one can instantly view real-time incident data and key performance indicators from across the institution in order to begin spotting trends and pinpointing areas for improvement. In many platforms a variety of reporting tools are also available for more in-depth summarization and analysis of data.
With the many challenges that can come with incident management, having a powerful electronic tool on your side can make an extremely significant difference in both the quality and effectiveness of your efforts. Leveraging modern software solutions can take any incident management program from simple data collection to a robust feedback loop that facilitates conversations and pushes continuous improvement. Incident prevention efforts can be immediately improved, and as a result EHS administrators can strive for much safer, lower-risk environments for each member of their organization.
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Joe comes to the SafetyStratus team with over 15 years of experience in the biological sciences and laboratory management and safety. At the University of Connecticut, and later at the University of the Sciences, Joe managed multiple high-volume biology teaching laboratories. He also worked as an Aquatic Biologist for the Philadelphia Water Department’s Office of Watersheds. Most recently Joe held the position of Laboratory Safety Manager in the University of the Sciences’ Environmental Health & Safety Department, overseeing all aspects of safety inspections and compliance in over 150 campus teaching and research spaces.
Originally from Connecticut, Joe has lived in the Philadelphia suburbs for the last 10 years. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Environmental Science and Biology from the University of Maine at Fort Kent. In his free time, Joe enjoys working out, taking in good football game or movie, and traveling with his wife to sunny Caribbean destinations whenever possible.
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