Incident tracking software helps keep mistakes from repeating themselves

Jan. 6, 2005
With the right incident tracking software, you can reduce recurrent failures, improve safety and reliability, save and avoid costs, and improve performance.

Documenting and learning from our mistakes is becoming much easier with incident-tracking software. Show-stopping incidents, accidents, near misses, reliability issues and quality issues, not to mention routine audits and proactive corrective actions, require valuable time and resources and can create a hefty paper trail. Despite the costs, companies have a responsibility to themselves, their employees, the public and regulatory bodies to document and correct their problems. 

Cause and effect: Each incident raises a number of questions, and the quick answer may not explain the cause of an accident or prevent it from happening again. Did a crane fall due to operator error, soil instability or mechanical failure, and what caused the underlying problem? If a shaft cracked due to fatigue, was it caused by corrosion, stress fluctuations, or the size or type of the load? 

Did a motor fail because someone didn’t follow a maintenance procedure, or a documented step was incorrect or inadequate? Which physical, human or organizational system factors contributed to the problem? What were the consequences? How can we prevent these problems from happening in the future, and can we quantify the benefits of correction?  

Incident-tracking systems streamline the ability to answer these questions and resolve problems. With effective incident tracking, you can reduce recurrent failures, improve safety and reliability, save and avoid costs, and improve performance. Here are the latest features of four incident-tracking and management systems. 

Investigation management: Advanced incident-tracking systems provide a full life-cycle investigation-management methodology. Mark Paradies, president of System Improvements, says, "TapRooT software helps users understand what happened and then dig deeper for real, fixable root causes.” He adds, "Our patented software for root cause analysis and corrective action tracking is also used to find and fix problems before an unsafe situation or equipment problem can cause an injury or plant downtime.”
The system graphically presents the sequence of events leading up to an incident. It assesses the factors that contributed to the event, including human performance aspects. It permits trending analysis and captures incident costs pertaining to equipment and lost production.  The new enterprise application gives users access to a comprehensive incident audit trail complete with 21 CFR Part 11 electronic signature compliance and multi-level security.

Root cause analysis: RootCause LEADER by ABS Consulting simplifies documentation of investigations, identification of underlying causes and maintenance of a five-year accident history for the EPA’s risk-management program rule (40 CFR 68). The searchable database allows you to compare results of multiple cases to help identify the root cause, and identify the actual or potential consequences of the incident.

It helps you formulate recommendations for correction, assign personnel to execute the correction, and track the progress to completion. It leverages the graphical charting and analysis features of Microsoft Excel, and produces complete incident investigation reports. The new Analysis-At-A-Glance feature provides instant incident status metrics for management.

OSHA reporting: OSHALOG 300 from Safety Software Inc. simplifies OSHA-compliant reporting. This application helps you log your job injuries and illnesses, determine whether the injury or illness is recordable, and print out full and compliant OSHA Forms 300, 300A and 301 for 2004.  OSHALOG also produces sharps, privacy, first aid, and other reports and graphs that meet compliance requirements. It also helps you assess your DART rate, incidents by supervisor, incidents by body part and injuries by accident factor. The Plus version adds proactive workers’ compensation claims management and analysis tools to track dollars spent on medical, indemnity, legal fees and rehabilitation claims. Employee data can be entered in the system or imported from your HR application. 

Failure modes and effects analysis: The makers of PROACT RCA software, which automates the root cause analysis process, have introduced LEAP for basic failure modes and effects analysis (FMEA) and opportunity analysis. LEAP looks at events that could occur (basic FMEA) and trends those that have occurred (opportunity analysis) to determine which incidents are the most qualified for root cause analysis. Reliability Center Inc.’s LEAP and PROACT RCA together form the new PROACT Suite, which helps companies prioritize the 20% or fewer events that are causing 80% or more of the losses, then concentrate resources on those high-priority events for investigative root cause analysis, and finally monitor effectiveness of the implemented recommendations on the bottom line.

E-mail Contributing Editor Sheila Kennedy, managing director of Additive Communications, at [email protected].

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