Scantron helps workforce track safety process — one bubble at a time

EnergyLines August 2020


When asked to use a No. 2 pencil, fill circles completely and make no stray marks on the form, these instructions are likely to bring back memories of school years when scantron technology was used for testing.


Merom Generating Station’s Job Safety Observation Team is utilizing scantron technology in a new way.


Using a custom form that is specific to the power plant, members of the team observe work practices and identify safety procedures. They use scantron forms to identify if practices used are safe or at-risk.


“We worked directly with the Scantron company to develop our form for the specific safety items that we wanted. The custom form allows us to identify and address at-risk areas and make proactive changes in order to improve working conditions and maintain a high level of safety for our employees,” said John Sneed, Area Coordinator – I&E Maintenance at the Merom Generating Station and Job Safety Observation Team Lead.


A safety observation starts with a Safety Observation Team member meeting with the work crew at the job briefing – scantron and pencil in hand.


Supervisors are taking advantage of getting on the job site with employees as they observe their safety practices. Supervisors attend the job briefing, review procedures with employees, and talk about safety.


Through this process, safety leaders are able to identify risks involved with a certain job or task, including climbing, using a forklift, or connecting rigging equipment.


“We’ll talk through those things and get them to think about what they are concerned about and how we can make this better. If there is an actionable item, we’ll make changes to make things safer for employees,” said Sneed.


Throughout the observation process, Sneed checks items off on the scantron. Bubble after bubble, details of the job are categorized as safe or at-risk. If the job is completed properly, with safety at the forefront of the work being done, the task is marked as safe. If there were safety issues not addressed, such as forgetting to check fall protection harnesses, the task is marked as “at-risk.”


Unsafe practices are discussed on the spot and also noted on the back of the scantron. The goal is to help employees build safety habits through the work they do – and the work is diverse.


The safety review process includes topics such as permits and procedures, personal protective equipment, excavation, ladders and fall protection.


Capturing safety information like this is important but what you do with the data is where the value lies. Once scanned, data collected is then searchable through a database so that analysis can be performed that will identify the most “at-risk” behaviors.


“We can see where the ‘at-risk’ areas are as we go along so we can identify trends. If we need to fix something, retrain or make improvements, we have the data to figure that out,” said Sneed.


A quarterly report shows the observations that have taken place, the most frequent aspects that employees are concerned about and any corrective action taken.


“This program really is about getting the employees engaged and discussing their own safety and how we can help them improve safety in the field,” said Sneed.


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