How The Operating Environment Affects Incident Reporting

Incident reporting is a very contextual process. For incident reporting to work effectively in buttressing safety efforts, you need to evaluate your workplace. Where you need to use a platform for reporting impacts the choice of technology and processes. Different industries and organisations don’t just vary on employees, working culture, and vocabulary, but also on what the operating environment is like. 

Simple factors you may overlook when designing your reporting process, like whether your employees work outdoors or indoors, matter. They impact what functionalities or features you need from your incident reporting platform. For example, if operations aren’t centralised (ie: your employees work in the field), you may need a platform that is accessible on mobile devices to make real-time updates possible.

Below, we’ll outline four key operating environment characteristics that you should factor into your reporting platform selection no matter your industry. We will also share our expert tips for how to define the features you need in a platform.

Operating Environment Factors That Influence Your Choice Of Reporting Platform

In the reporting process, the operating environment influences accessibility, immediacy, risk factors, and various other safety elements. Understanding the space in which your employees' work allows you to pre-empt their safety needs and design policies that enforce high safety conditions. Choosing a reporting platform is part of this safety optimisation. See the ways in which the environment can impact your choice of the platform below:

Outdoors Versus Indoors

It is much easier to account for safety risks in a contained, indoor environment. You can put up signs to remind about risk factors, much like cleaning teams do to caution people about wet floors. You can also work to eliminate conditions that present dire safety concerns.

Outdoor working environments, on the other hand, increase unpredictability. External factors that you have little control over come into the mix, making it difficult to account for all potential safety risks. What you can consider with outdoor operating environments is to use a reporting platform that has real-time, easy-to-use communication channels. If your staff can make safety observations the moment they arrive on-site, you can resolve them quickly and put the appropriate safety measures in place to reduce or mitigate the risk.

Even when you cannot predict or pre-empt external risks, open communication ensures management is quickly made aware, giving them a headstart on managing reports.

Functionality And Features

What do your employees need to be able to do with the platform? In other words, what functions must it have? Operational functionality in the environment informs the types of features you need to prioritise in your platform.

Offline Connectivity

Some operating environments (mines, airlines, maritime, building cellars, oil rigs, etc.) are not internet-friendly so you may need offline capabilities. 

Reporting should be a continuous effort from all members of your team so no incidents are forgotten or overlooked. Offline access ensures this is possible even in low- or no-internet environments.

Device Limitations

What about high-risk areas such as EX-spaces (explosive atmospheres) where the devices set limitations for use? You can capitalise on cloud computing and real-time updates to establish post-operational procedures that allow employees to make reports immediately when they exit limited zones.


How To Determine The Requirements Of Your Incident Reporting Solution

The main areas to prioritise when trying to pick an incident reporting platform that is adaptable are communication, accessibility, and real-time information updates. How can you identify other requirements or features that your particular business may need? Here are 3 tips:

1. Audits And Inspections

Evaluation of your operational environment will help you make an informed decision based on practical, spatial elements. Audits and inspections are fantastic ways to gather environmental information and evaluate safety conditions and risks. 

When looking to select a reporting platform, you can go over historical audits and inspections, conduct new ones for the decision-making process, or both. We suggest the latter so that you can make sure you account for past incident causes and tailor your choice to your current operational environment and needs.

Some businesses, like construction companies, are always changing work sites, thereby constantly shifting platform requirements. In industries like these, you can go through audits and inspections on various past sites and identify common requirements that can encompass all needs.

2. Employee Feedback And Input

A good way to observe the requirements is to look at the operating environment from the field workers' perspective. Simply go through the day in their shoes and ask yourself every once in a while: “what if I’d need to report an observation right now?” For example, if your employees are constantly on the move, a voice-to-text interface is often easier than typing.

To get insight into their workday and needs from the platform, ask your employees. Gather feedback, organise one-on-one chats with them, and make it possible for them to share their thoughts about the platform even after its selection. They will guide you on how effective the system is on the ground and whether it suits the operational environment.

You should also encourage on-site managers to make their observations of the environment and the safety of the workers a priority. They can also help identify what they think workers may need from the platform.

3. Report Tracking And Analysis

Another reflective approach to decision-making means evaluating past reports and incidents. Identify different factors of each incident, including causes, reporting channels used, processes followed, employee input, solutions, and more. You should also evaluate safety metrics and data around reports if you have access to them.

Reflecting on the past can help you make better decisions for the future. You can choose features that help you improve your reporting.

Practical guide for setting up an incident reporting process

Final thoughts

The ‘where’ is essential to creating an incident reporting system that works. After all, the environment is where the incidents occur. The causes and unsafe conditions are also situated in the ‘where’, too. To prepare for and address incidents, you can use these factor guidelines and tips to analyse your environment and choose a platform that fits it perfectly.


If you're looking for a platform to collect more data to monitor your organisation's incident reporting practices, Falcony | Observe have you covered. You can find more information on our website or test out our 30-day free trial: 

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We are building the world's first operational involvement platform. Our mission is to make the process of finding, sharing, fixing and learning from issues and observations as easy as thinking about them and as rewarding as being remembered for them.‍

By doing this, we are making work more meaningful for all parties involved.

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