Why safety paperwork doesn’t work

And what you should do about it

The Problem

After years in the safety industry, my business partner Pascal has seen (too) many accidents resulting from hazards people didn’t report. His professional experience is backed up by research — although most workers (84%) consider themselves responsible for workplace safety, only 23% report hazards consistently. In other words, people care about their workmates, but not enough to overcome the pain of paperwork.

The solution may seem simple — just make safety reporting easier! However, as a compliance problem, the focus has always been on “what boxes do I need to tick to stay out of trouble”? With this mindset, safety reporting can never be simple. To make the matter worse, the rise of safety software means even more paperwork, as providers compete with each other by offering more and more functions/features (forms to complete).

The Solution ???

Pascal and I have been best mates since high school. I know he has been doing workplace safety stuff since he got out of university, but I had no idea he was so serious about it. I always thought he was joking when he said things like “investigating wrist injuries from repetitive actions”.

One night, after a few beers, he asked me to make a workplace safety app with him. He told me about the paperwork problem (like I just told you), and he told me that he has a solution. He looked around as if to check that no one is listening in on us, then with a completely serious face, he said —

SafetyPin (our app) will prevent injuries and save lives, because we will focus on communication.

The Skeptic

Perhaps the years in marketing has made me too cynical to listen to such a grandiose statement. I couldn’t say anything supportive about his “solution”. Instead, my BS alarm kicked in — “spare me your cheesy slogan…you can’t save lives by filling in forms and ticking boxes”!

Of course, my skepticism didn’t last, or I wouldn’t have helped him to turn his vision into a real working app…

The Solution !!!

It wasn’t easy to stay focused on communication and saving lives, the old compliance mindset often crept back in. But in the end, we managed to turn dreadful paperwork into a “structured conversation”. SafetyPin enhances our natural protective instinct (telling our mates to “watch out for x”), by making it more visible, timely, and interactive.

This new approach means SafetyPin may seem “unconventional” compared to traditional safety systems. For example, most safety apps start by asking the users to select the type of report to fill out (Accident, Near Miss, or a Hazard). SafetyPin starts by identifying the hazardous object (tag a photo) you want to warn others about, whether it resulted in an accident or not.

Keeping out of trouble

Some of you might still be worried about compliance — can I avoid paying a fine if I use SafetyPin? WorkSafe has actually stated that “Good paperwork does not equal good health and safety”. It has even endorsed a case study where the company reduced their paperwork!

The verdict is clear, no amount of paperwork can save you from fines. If you want to stay out of trouble, keep your team safe. So instead of storing a pile of paperwork you hate somewhere in your filing cabinet, just tell your mates what to watch out for at work using SafetyPin.