Construction Firm Takes Safety Reporting Digital

An enormous challenge for construction firms is managing safety. Not only is it necessary to handle the initial inspection, there’s a need to file reports and adhere to OSHA requirements. For The Branch Group, a major construction firm that handles upwards of 2,200 report each year, speed and efficiency are paramount. “We have anywhere as many as 70 ongoing projects taking place at any moment. The paperwork is enormous,” said Danny Minnix, director of Safety and Risk for The Branch Group.

In the past, the company stored all the records on paper. In many cases, multiple copies of a report were required.

“We had as many as 9,000 pieces of paper floating through the organization every year,” Minnix said.

Many of these documents had to be scanned, faxed or hand delivered. “The system was slow, inefficient and often challenging. In some cases, it was difficult to find a specific piece of paperwork.” In fact, the company had to employ a person to enter information about the safety inspections into the computer system. That task required a few hours each week.

The Branch Group turned to Pulpstream to build out a digital workflow for safety reports. The vendor introduced the platform in January 2015 and it hasn’t looked back. Today, field inspectors enter their data through smartphones and all the reports are stored electronically. It’s also possible to attach photos. Company executives view the reports via a dashboard and they are able to drill down into details, when necessary. What’s more, Minnix and other staff can pull up the information when an OSHA inspection takes place.

“We have about 10 or 12 OSHA inspections every year,” Minnix said.

A big selling point was that the zero-coding platform could be customized to meet the specific needs of The Branch Group—and without involvement from the IT department.

“A superintendent can go to his phone or tablet and conduct the incident investigation right there. The data is distributed immediately, along with the risk factors or findings about the injury. All this information goes right into a database and it is available on the dashboard,” he said.

 It’s also possible to schedule alerts and share report data with clients and safety inspectors at the click of a button.

The system has introduced enormous efficiencies for The Branch Group. According to Minnix, the company can now address potential violations and fix problems much faster—and avoid potential OSHA fines. Instead of two weeks or more, information is now visible as soon as an inspector files a report. What’s more, the system delivers $40,000 a year in cost savings by eliminating manual data entry, paper and ink. This will also help the company by boosting the number of annual inspections to 2,025, roughly 400 more than last year, with no increase in labor.

Concludes Minnix: “The transition went very smoothly. There were no technical or cultural challenges. Everyone could see the value of this system and that it made things easier and better. We have eliminated piles of paperwork. We now have safety information at our fingertips.”

Samuel Greengard
Samuel Greengard
Samuel Greengard writes about business, technology and other topics. His book, The Internet of Things (MIT Press) was released in the spring of 2015.

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