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Safety through software: how cloud-based project tools can improve safety performance

Safety through software: how cloud-based project tools can improve safety performance
A software platform alone can’t improve a company’s safety record. But properly used, it can provide companies with a faster way to communicate, track performance, and identify patterns. Investigating safety incidents and near-misses is the basic responsibility of any construction company, but performing those tasks with the right software can enable teams to easily identify where they are excelling and where there is room for improvement.  In other words, a company can start making data driven decisions based on the patterns formerly hidden within stacks of paper, or lost in three-ring binders. 
Garrett Sheeran, senior strategic product consultant at Procore, a leading provider of cloud-based applications for construction, represents a product that promises to do exactly that. “We’ve worked side by side with industry safety leaders to develop a product aimed at helping Canadian construction companies improve and maintain their safety records,” he says.
Among the company’s Quality and Safety products are four tools: Incidents, Observations, Inspections, and Forms.
“The Incidents tool is used to document everything from near-misses to severe and unforeseen events,” Sheeran says. “The tool allows you to accurately capture all the information and core details around that event and analyze the root cause behind it. Not only are you accurately tracking the details of these incidents as required by law, but you’re also able to use those records to get some valuable data. A safety manager could look at incidents across multiple projects to determine the most common hazards or contributing conditions involved in these incidents—then act to correct them.”
The Observations tool does exactly what its name implies, allowing users to capture a wide variety of observations, from safety deficiencies, to violations, hazards and even positive practices. Better still, the Observations tool allows users to document details of any event and make them actionable. Supporting documentation, such as site photos and PDFs, can be attached and uploaded to give Observations greater clarity.
The Observations tool can be used to weigh the safety performance of a particular sub-contractor, trade or team to determine if they’re high risk. “But look at the data you collect carefully,” says Sheeran. “A general contractor might find that it’s not always the sub-contractor who is to blame. They might take a hard look at themselves to make sure they’re providing the right training, tools and resources to do the job safely. Some Procore customers have discovered that they could do more to support the subs that come on site.”
The Inspections and Forms tools allow users to access a library of necessary checklists or forms needed in the field directly from their mobile devices for completion.
“Many of our customers use these tools for safety inspections,” says Sheeran. “If they see something that fails to meet their standards, they can use the Observations tool to register their concern directly from the Inspection line item. A sub-contractor, for example, could be sent an email to comment on the item and help provide some clarity about what happened—or indicate that they have corrected the deficiency.”
The Forms tool allows users to access fillable PDFs. “It adapts itself nicely to safety documents,” says Sheeran. “If your company has used a specific paper tool for 20 years, you can upload it as a fillable PDF into Procore to be completed in the field.”
He recalls a client who recently eliminated the task of collecting and copying paper safety reporting forms for distribution to a monthly safety committee meeting.
“I showed him how to set the parameters of a report to capture the same data electronically and then send an identical report to his email address for distribution,” says Sheeran. “It realistically saved him hours of work each month. We’re not asking Procore users to collect data because it will help them five years from now. In many cases, we can demonstrate that users can appreciate benefits soon after they start using it.”
This content is sponsored by Procore Technologies, Inc. in collaboration with ConstructConnect™ Media. To learn more about Procore, visit Procore.com.


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