Bringing technology into safety culture

By Deb Draper


An up-to-date and effective Environmental Health and Safety (EHS) program is integral to the success of any business, but in the construction industry particularly, achieving such a program can be complex, time-consuming and despite the best of intentions, is all too often lacking.

This is no reflection on the commitment of the industry towards its workers, their families and the community, but rather is intensified by the work itself. In piling, the powerful tools and equipment working both above and beneath the ground add to the Herculean challenge of keeping everyone safe.

The bottom line of any EHS management system is to prevent work-related injuries through good safety practices such as identification of hazards, controlling risk, facilitating training and industry compliance. Even further, when workers aren’t being lost to injury or illness, an effective EHS program improves productivity; company morale is raised along with performance in all areas, building a strong and positive reputation in the building community.

“Employee health and safety programs have been in traditional industry for a long time, but using pen and paper,” said Harish Pandian, director of product at eCompliance. “Using today’s technologies, safety software can track all data in [a] digital format allowing for informed decisions on all aspects of training, compliance, hazard and risk assessment and program development. What we are trying to do with our software is create an engaging platform for the end users: for the frontline workforce who are in the field, giving them an understanding that everything they do, the hazards they report, the training they take, help them go home safe, help their coworkers go home safe.”

Since 2010, in response to a tragic workplace accident that claimed the lives of two young people on Canada’s East Coast, eCompliance has been on a mission: eliminate one million workplace incidents by the end of 2020, through the development of an enhanced safety software solution and a safety app, which increases safety participation on the frontlines and gives a real-time, 360-degree view of safety performance. The eCompliance mobile app connects workers with the office enabling faster, fact-based decisions, giving executives a clear view of safety risks across the company. This mobile app is being used by the frontline workforce in the field, on construction sites, on factory floors as well as by administrators, directors and managers leading their safety programs.

However, the work of the eCompliance safety nerds is not finished. In August, furthering its commitment to strengthening the safety culture in North America, the company launched the enhanced 7.0 version of its mobile app.


Getting everyone involved

“Most safety program activities are driven by compliance requirements and employers mandating employees to do them as tasks/paperwork rather than looking at the true impact to safety,” said Pandian. “We saw that we needed to look at ways to help make employees safe by increasing the use of the app, making it easier and more meaningful.”

Research showed the No. 1 value for people to input something was the time it takes. So the first question was: how to make the app easier and faster to use? The answer was to simplify the search for templates and sites, deliver seamless navigation among sections, thus enabling the ability to find and complete forms in seconds rather than minutes.

“Back in 2018/19 we looked at companies that had the most success with safety learning and had fewer incidents. We compared data of organizations who sat at the bottom quartile versus the top and noticed a significant difference between the two. We questioned, ‘What were they doing differently from the rest?’ We did some deep learning and found that the primary difference was participation; they had all their employees make at least one use of the app every day. Secondly, they encouraged users with recognized positive behaviour, acknowledging all the good practices, however small, that were happening. This was taking a more positive approach to safety – how to do things right, not only wrong.

“Also, we looked at how a company could download a business application app and not necessarily have to train a workforce of a thousand people on how to use it. That’s another value, especially for the frontline workforce: training. So we focused on intuitive, natural gestures that you would normally use on other familiar apps. Ease of use is a huge component of this update.”

Online safety courses on the company website can be uploaded to those in the field, a convenience that is being widely used with COVID-19 and no classroom sessions. “There are 300 courses that can be taken on a mobile [device], recorded that the course has been completed and added to the worker’s profile,” said Pandian. “The app will keep track of who has taken necessary courses, who needs to and then record completion.”

To further increase accessibility for everyone, the 7.0 update supports standard French, Canadian-French and Spanish to support training users in their native language.


Staying connected and staying safe

The eCompliance 7.0 update also allows employees to work uninterrupted in offline mode in the most remote or low coverage locations. The cutting-edge technology can detect when an internet connection is lost or gained. Specific notification feedback notifies users when they lose connection, allowing them to complete tasks even while offline. Notifications are enabled when any action items created offline have been submitted successfully, providing reassurance that all items are in the system.

In 2021, the plan is to focus on getting the most productive data to management, more complexity in terms of dashboards and records. “We want to take the safety culture to the next level as a social concept. This means recognizing individuals making positive contributions to the safety of the team, showing their value in helping others [and] helping the team. That is the direction in which we’re heading – software that will help create a strong and effective safety culture.

“Industry has come to the point where we need to evolve beyond doing the bare minimum of safety compliance. What we are trying to do with our software is create an engaging platform for the end users – the frontline workers who are in the field – giving them an understanding that everything they do, the hazards they report, helps them go home safe, helps their coworkers go home safe.” 



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About Us

Piling Canada is the premier national voice for the Canadian deep foundation construction industry. Each issue is dedicated to providing readers with current and informative editorial, including project updates, company profiles, technological advancements, safety news, environmental information, HR advice, pertinent legal issues and more.