Learn how Re-flow Field Management software features, such as its digital forms, can protect the rail industry from costly HSE violations
Earlier this year, a railway infrastructure company faced a fined half a million pounds for failing to warn of danger to workers – an offense punishable under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974. The incident, which originally happened in July 2014, left a worker with serious injuries, including a broken pelvis, several broken ribs, and damage to his lungs and stomach. Even if recovered, the long-term consequences of this preventable incident will persist for many years, as the worker is unlikely to be able to return to full-time employment.
During the investigation following this incident, the Office of Railways and Roads (ORR) identified several key failures by the company which led to the tragedy. These included the failure to brief crews on proper procedures, rectify non-conformances and enforce mandatory processes that would ensure work on site was carried out safely and efficiently.
“They had opportunities to correct work practices and make work safer, but those opportunities were missed. The result resulted in extremely serious injuries to one of its employees.
Ian Prosser CBE, HM Chief Railway Inspector at ORR
Following an incident like this, companies should conduct internal reviews of what went wrong, using audit trails and form data to identify potential risks and non-compliances. which may have been overlooked, the changes needed to correct them and ultimately how similar incidents can be avoided in the future.
When conducting such a review, the company in question inevitably found several areas where hazards were being overlooked and identified areas for future improvement. Despite this, ORR’s investigation revealed that there were already procedures and practices in place which, if implemented, would likely have prevented the incident from occurring. Yet without strictly enforced compliance and shortcuts, these processes do little to keep workers safe.
Many factors can explain why a company chooses to compromise on its HSE compliance – strict deadlines forcing workers to take shortcuts, lost direction in a whirlwind of work, poor profitability or simple negligence. Whatever the cause, it will likely be exacerbated by inefficient work procedures that form the heart of a business. This can include outdated paper-based systems, manual processes, information silos caused by fragmented legacy software, or an ill-equipped digital solution that cannot meet the unique needs of a business.
A proven solution in the highway industry is the use of field management software – a digital solution that streamlines communication between remote sites and the back office, bringing together all crucial business processes under one same roof.
Recently, Re-flow Field Management has emerged at the forefront of the industry, used by more than 100 companies in the sector to revolutionize their HSE management. Today, the company intends to make its first foray into the railway sectorwith their team convinced that its software features can make preventable accidents like this a relic of the past.
Based on aggregated data from a Re-flow customer survey, companies using the software saw HSE standards increase by 50%, auditability by 60% and compliance reaching 100%. DWG Infraco, which is among the first to use the software in a railway environment, has already reported impressive results after implementation.
“We were introduced to Re-flow about 18 months ago by another company that we were doing subcontract work with. We were all paper and manual, and it was a complete culture shift for everyone. Now we have Ansel, who is our Super User, and we live and breathe by him. He does all of our RAMS for all of our projects, we do all of our reporting, all of our site documentation, the toolkit discussions, the daily logging of site activities. It has made a phenomenal difference in what we do when it comes to ISO audits or record keeping, because everything is at your fingertips. We don’t have to search for piles of scraps of paper, it makes our life much easier. It was a big change.
Mike Andrews, Director, DWG Infraco Ltd
What are the exact changes that field management software like Re-flow enables companies to make, driving such remarkable results in HSE management and working to prevent serious incidents like the one in question?
Thorough risk assessment processes
With respect to the previous example, the investigation following the incident identified the site as having unstable ground conditions. If the correct procedures were followed, this would also have been identified during a risk assessment before work started.
With Re-flow, digital forms such as dynamic risk assessments ensure a comprehensive assessment of potential hazards, using intelligent formulas and calculations to automatically identify consequences, likelihood, who is at risk and what risk reduction is in place, ultimately generating a score of final risk based on data.
For work with serious potential consequences and high probability of an incident, Re-flow’s dynamic risk rating would have generated a final high risk rating, which would use automated workflows to instantly put jobs on hold and trigger a notification to management that action needs to be taken. to mitigate risk before work can proceed. All of this would then be relayed to agents on site, who can instantly view the updates communicated through their mobile app.
Another finding of ORR’s investigation was the lack of adequate information about potential hazards and good working practices before work began.
In Re-flow this could have been solved by applying toolbox threads as part of a job’s workflow. These can be scheduled to take place at the start of the workday and make completion mandatory before a worker can participate in the work. All agents assigned to the task must submit a unique digital signature that proves their participation in a toolbox conversation, with time, date and location attached for further verification.
Qualifications, certifications and toolkit discussions are then stored and accessible via the office dashboard, ensuring that all operators are properly qualified and informed when assigned to a task, triggering conflicts in the scheduler if adequate training is not present.
Asset Management / Compliance
ORR also found that although trench supports, which could have completely prevented the incident, were delivered to the site, no effort was made to enforce their use before work commenced.
Using digital forms, Re-flow enforces compliance on all elements of a job, such as proper deployment of safety equipment. Forms can be created and customized to require photos tagged with time, date and location that prove workers are meeting the correct safety standards before further work can proceed.
Compliance checks and site visits
The last backup that could have prevented the incident would be a site visit to ensure and enforce safety standards. The problem with less efficient and fragmented processes, especially paper-based ones, is the disconnect between administrative staff being notified of the start of work and site inspectors. Even then, once a site inspection report was completed, it would have to be given to the foreman before the problem could be corrected. The accumulation of these delays can lead to long periods of time workers are working in hazardous environments, greatly increasing the risk of accidents.
With Re-flow, site inspectors can be instantly notified when a job is in progress. Inspections are carried out and all non-conformities are documented and evidenced by photographs with time, date and location. These are then flagged with a non-compliance rating ranging from low to high and sent to the foreman for rectification. The rectifications are made, attested by photographs and submitted for the approval of the inspector before the work can continue.
Ultimately, many preventable on-site accidents result in ineffective and unreliable HSE processes, compounded by increasing pressure on business owners to meet increasingly stringent deadlines to remain profitable. When the pressure mounts, corners are cut to save time and money. Continuing to operate on outdated systems can cost workers’ health, lives and livelihoods, and a single shortcut can cause irreparable damage to a business.
New technologies, including Re-flow field management software, have given many companies struggling with these exact issues the leeway to enable correct processes and sustainably enforce compliance, without harming their employees. Real-time data collected from digital forms enables these businesses to identify and act on upcoming challenges and opportunities, keeping operations safe and profitable.
To learn more about Re-flow’s field management software, visit www.re-flow.co.uk Where call 01392 574002.