A Mobile-App that’s Enhancing Field Safety like Never Before

January 19, 2020/by Barry Nelson

“Cupertino Electric is the best company to work for and SmartTagIt is the best software I’ve ever used in my career as a safety professional, to reinforce safe behaviors and to continually improve safe work environments for our field personnel.”

Since January 2018, Ryan McCracken has served as one of Cupertino Electric’s Safety Coordinators at a data center project in New Albany, OH. The large-scale, complex project is being completed for a technology firm, and could last up to 10 years.

This is exactly the environment that Ryan thrives in—one where he spends most of his time in the field, focused on training, advising and educating. “At any given time, there could be a thousand people from different trades on site—electricians, office and field personnel, subcontractor personnel as well as other contractors—working for and alongside Cupertino Electric,” he says. “Anybody from any trade can stop me at any time with a question.”

By being in the field as much as possible, Ryan gets to know his people very well and rapidly build rapport. “I get to hear about their kids, car troubles, and the really important stuff, like which brand of cut-resistant gloves they prefer,” says Ryan.

This solid foundation in field engagement is critical for building a widespread culture of safety awareness and excellence. In May 2018, Cupertino Electric adopted SmartTagIt to capture and record almost every facet of construction safety, including Personal Risk Audits (PRAs), good/at-risk observations, program audits, lockout/tagout audits, and heat/illness audits. SmartTagIt automates the collection, reporting and analyses of these processes.

Transparency and an open-door policy help ensure adoption

To encourage adoption, Ryan shared what he was doing with SmartTagIt and any resulting reports with field leadership and personnel. “Nobody wants to be unsafe but a lot of people have had bad experiences with subpar safety professionals in the past–-myself included. By explaining what SmartTagIt does—why I’m taking photos and what those observations are for— I’m making a huge difference in the attitude toward safety out in the field,” says Ryan.

“I also have an open-door policy for questions and concerns. I tell my folks to think of me like the older brother they maybe didn’t have, who knows what mom and dad are looking for in terms of behavior. I’m here to step in between them and danger, using my knowledge of OSHA regulations, company safety programs, and sometimes just gut instinct to check something out a bit more,” he adds.

Hard data is just one part of the story; context is key

“One of the great advantages of SmartTagIt is that I can track trends easily— not just at the project level, but individually as well. I can look at a week or two of one person’s PRA entries and see when they are mentally ‘not here’ based on the level of response to questions. These questions are about tasking, hazards and ways to mitigate them, so if someone who is normally very thorough suddenly starts writing only a line or two, I know that I need to spend some extra time with that person that day.”

“There are so many factors in an individual’s personal and professional life that have a huge impact on how ‘this day’ at work is going to go. Understanding individual context plays a large role in accident prevention; spending just a few minutes a day with a person is usually all you need to build a working relationship that builds upon a culture of safety awareness with your people,” says Ryan.

Business context matters just as much

Photos and videos are a great tool for cataloguing good and bad safety issues, and SmartTagIt allows Ryan to view all captured photos and comments on his phone or iPad, catching things he might otherwise miss. Placing this information within personal context is similarly important.

But just as critical for preventing future issues is understanding the data within an organizational framework. One way that Ryan gains this broader context and a more comprehensive view is by using keywords and hashtags.

“With SmartTagIt’s system, I’m able to pull in a lot of different observations and audits by using keywords and hashtags. I can type in “temppower” and see every observation with that hashtag for that day, week, and year,” says Ryan. “Hashtags make it easy to connect disparate observations into reportable categories, and streamline that research. As a safety guy, that’s unreal. We used to guess about this kind of stuff, but now I have the ability to look in the rear-view mirror, and look forward as well.”

Building an all-inclusive safety culture with cutting edge behavior-based safety programs, as part of a team of like-minded safety professionals is Ryan’s dream job.

“Bottom line, Cupertino Electric is the best company to work for and SmartTagIt is the best software I’ve ever used in my career as a safety professional, to reinforce safe behaviors and to continually improve safe work environments for our field personnel,” says Ryan.