Last week we talked about how to collect employee reports of hazards. This week, now that you have the hazard report, what do you do with it? Other than fixing it. You need a hazard reporting procedure. This process will improve your hazard reports and increase your employee engagement.
If you missed last week’s post check it out here: Make Hazard Reporting an Easy Button
What is a Hazard Reporting Procedure
What you do after receiving the hazard report matters. Hopefully, the issue is getting fixed or addressed; that should be a given. But there are several other steps you can put in place that will:
- Ensure the report doesn’t get forgotten
- Builds the culture of your operation
- Use the reports for identifying trends.
STEP 1: WHAT ACTIONS TO TAKE IMMEDIATELY
There should be a process for every member of management as to what they do when they are notified of a hazard. Creating a consistent process helps reduce errors. As I said last week, it must be easy.
If the process isn’t easy, then management won’t follow it either.
Here are some examples of what to do with hazard reports.
- Enter into a work order system (keep in mind that not all hazards warrant a work order, but if you do it this way, then the WO portal should be used for all reports – one system is easier than multiple.)
- Email or text it to a clerk, or a designated person, who tracks and reports it to the appropriate person to resolve the issue.
- Write it on a whiteboard where it is tracked to resolution.
STEP 2: HAVE A TRACKING SYSTEM IN YOUR HAZARD REPORTING PROCEDURES
All reported hazards need to be tracked. This is a data point that you can use to improve your safety program in the future.
This is valuable data, so don’t skip this step.
In your tracking system, list all of the aspects of the hazard including:
- Who reported it
- Date reported
- What area it is in
- What policy/procedure it relates too
- Who corrected the hazard and how
- The date fixed
- The cause of the hazard
Check out this article on effective trend analysis.
Also, this tracking system can be used to make sure that no reported hazards are missed, forgotten about, or ignored. By including completion information in your tracking, you can easily see your open hazard items.
Remember: Keep your system simple. One tracking document to be used for all hazards. This will give you the best trending information – but, it will also keep your process simple. If your team has to decide where to track something, it is less likely they will do it.
Confusion in your system will cause errors.
STEP 3: REVIEW YOUR REPORTED & OPEN HAZARDS WEEKLY
This is a great weekly manager’s meeting agenda item. Every week, as a management team, review the hazard tracking report.
Increasing communication on what was reported, the cause of the hazard, and whether or not it is corrected will only benefit your program as a whole.
It brings attention to what is going on in the operations. Thinking back to Heinrich’s triangle you will have more unsafe acts and conditions than you will injuries. To reduce the injuries, focus on unsafe acts and conditions.
This weekly review gets your team in the habit of taking a proactive approach to safety.
Another benefit of discussing this weekly is corrective actions are completed faster. The people with the power to correct the problem area in the room. If the maintenance or operations team is not fixing the hazard quick enough, their boss will be informed during the review.
I have seen hazard correction completion times drop dramatically, just be reviewing the hazards weekly.
STEP 4: COMMUNICATE BACK TO THE EMPLOYEES
An employee made an effort to communicate a hazardous condition to you. You should be grateful they did this. Their actions saved the company from the cost of an injury or damage.
You make the same effort to tell them what you did about it. Never expect your employees to figure it out for themselves.
This feedback loop is one of the most important aspects of a hazard reporting procedure. It improves future reports and prevents bad feelings with employees.
There was a facility that had a leaky roof. The employees reported it. The employer had taken action – they called a roofing company and had scheduled repairs; in the interim, they put up protections to prevent people from getting injured. However, they never told their employees what they were doing. All the employees saw was they were fixing a leaking roof with caution tape and garbage cans. The employees then called OSHA and filed a complaint. If the employer had just communicated that the work was scheduled and why the contractor was delayed, that never would have happened.
- Directly tell the person who made the report, verbally or written.
- Include it in the company newsletter
- Send out a blast email
- Post it in the break room
- Write it on a whiteboard
Do what works for your operation. At a minimum, tell the person who reported the hazard. It is even better when you speak to the entire staff. This shows you are listening to your people and responding to their concerns (meaning better safety culture)
It is also essential to communicate when you decide NOT to do anything. For example, the employee suggests a fix that is not within budget. Your response could be that you looked into it, will keep it in mind when the budget allows, in the meantime, we are providing different protection.
These little steps to improve communication will go a long way.
If you haven’t read last week’s post on different ways to report hazards, take a moment to do that.
I believe that having good hazard reporting procedures is one of the BEST proactive safety activities you can be doing. Take a look at your current process. Where can you make an improvement? Are you tracking your hazards?
Don’t forget to download the Proactive Trend Analysis Template to help you get started trending your hazards.
Now It’s Your Turn
I want to hear from you. What did you think about this series on hazard reporting? Are you getting anything out of this content? Leave a comment below and connect. Don’t forget to share this series with your Best Safety Friends.
Hi, I’m Brye (rhymes with sky)! I am a self-proclaimed safety geek with two decades of general industry safety experience. I train and coach new safety managers on how to effectively do their jobs in the real world. I specialize in bringing safety programs to a world-class level and building a safety culture. I would love to help you do the same.