Safety Communication is the New Black

Written by Fredrik Löfberg

Today as different work safety management systems are everyday commodities in companies, the need for near-miss and close-call reporting is increasing. One of the drivers for management systems is of course the goal to decrease LTIF and one very good method to achieve it, is to start making more observations and fixing safety issues. At the same time, the blue collar workers are also equipped with smart phones to handle their work related information flows and safety. We can’t assume right away that everyone would just start reporting observations on a daily basis. A good starting point would probably be to budget e.g. 1 observation/person/month. If you’ll get to these numbers you’re better than probably 90 % of companies. The problem we are facing with new technology is that people need to login to different applications all the time and it might be difficult to remember what application to use and what all the password were.

Make Safety Reporting Easy

To enable an efficient safety management process you need to get more information from the field. You’ve probably had near-miss or close call reporting implemented before but you weren’t satisfied with the amount of reports you were receiving. There are two major reasons for this. The first one is that people have very high quality demands for their own reports. Many feel that the observation is so insignificant that there is no use to report it. Another reason is that we are not able to use the reporting tools and channels when we have the need. Or if you have a paper based process you are probably getting the information too late and it’s just for the sake of statistics.

To lower to barrier for near-miss reporting you should encourage people to report all weird things that they come across. And also point-out that there is no issues that can't be reported. The more the merrier if I might say. This is a big cultural change and it will take time and leadership. Change management is crucial to get this done. One way to handle this is through competition and rewards. But the key ingredient here is that we don’t require people to report major safety risks but we ask them to report everything that is wrong or they feel could be better. Soon, a thing that first felt difficult becomes a routine thing. Every day when people start their work they could easily make a short observation and take a picture of their working environment just to record what is going on. And if there is something unusual it should be highlighted. Why not even create a safety leaderboard and highlight those who have done the biggest number of observations? It doesn’t matter who’s done the best report. Concentrate to volume in the beginning.

Second thing is the channel to report. Don’t assume that people remember any user credentials. So enable reporting without a password. We call it public reporting channel in NordSafety. You can easily create a public observation form and give the reporting link to everyone. You can distribute it through QR-code, NCF-tags or a redirecting link This way the information channel is always online and available when people want to use it. It will also remove all the obstacles that could make reporting too complicated. If all of your people don’t yet have smart phones this can also be done with tablets that are available for everyone at the site or it can be done with workers private smart phones without installing any additional software.

Feedback on Safety Reports

One part of the safety culture change management is to open a two-way dialog of safety if you haven’t already done it. When somebody takes the time to give you information that they feel is really important, please reply to them. Investigate and reply back the findings. This is just showing pure respect towards the people who have taken the first step and provided information. Two-way safety communication is the key to get people to repeat the process and start to shape it towards a habit.

Safety communication should also be open for everyone to follow. Transparency is important in organizations nowadays. People want to know what’s going on. To enable this you should share the safety observations and allow people to share them, favorite them and comment on them. It will make the information more interesting and will surely beat any monthly safety letters you assume everyone is reading thoroughly.

Safety Belongs to Everyone

To improve your safety you need to improve your near-miss, close call and overall observation reporting. Through this program you will get information about what’s really going on in your organization and what are the risks that people are facing this exact moment. You can call it real-time risk management. To lay the ground work for this you need to lower the barriers for reporting. The safety reporting information needs to be online and available all the time. The culture needs to be changed in a way to allow more things to be reported. People should be reporting even if everything is alright but you feel that something could be changed. And use the technology to make accessing this information flow super easy. Forget the paper process and difficult applications with bad user experience. Make the reporting channel public. After this, be involved and active. Appreciate the work people are doing and provide them feedback and results how things will be changed. This will get people keep coming back and to repeat the process. And when you repeat something enough it will become a habit. After the volume is high enough you can start to work on the quality and maybe also to demand more from the reporting step by step. Allow also peer-to-peer communication through a safety feed where people see what has been reported. Allow them to interact with the information so that they get more engaged and interested to consume the information. The social network interaction aspect is really strong as people want to see what others have to say. Let people share interesting content themselves and show their own professionality.

Safety should really belong to everyone and it should not be a one way street of seldom information pieces from the floor up to the management for just the sake of statistics and legal reporting demands.


NordSafety – an innovative EHS app provider – was founded in Helsinki und acquired by Quentic in November 2017. NordSafety was renamed to Quentic in 2018.