If you are still using Excel to manage your contractor safety statistics such as craft count, manhours, incidents, OSHA incident rates, and DART rates, maybe it’s time to take a look at something a little bit more powerful, more accurate, and less painful without having to implement something as beastly as?Intelex. ?We helped AEP do just that a few years ago. ?Let me explain what their old process was like, and what their new process is now like.

The old way AEP?tracked OSHA incident rates, and how it became?unwieldy

There was an accident at a plant, and someone died. ?It was a big deal. ?Everyone at the top said “we need to improve our safety. ?Bob, you are now in charge of improving safety. ?You need to improve our procedures, and start tracking all our statistics so that we can continuously improve our safety record.”

So Joe started tracking things. ?Things like the number of hours worked at each?plant, the types of workers working at each?plant, their seniority (Journeyman, Journeyman +, etc), the subcontractor, and so forth. ?And when a near miss occurred, or a recordable, a lot of details got written down, like what body part was injured, during what shift, at what plant, what time of day, what day of week, what type of work, etc.

All of this info had to be stored somewhere…so Bob thought of the obvious choice for this: Excel. ? It’s easy and powerful. ?And it worked really well for a long time! ?However, as time went by and more people were involved, the spreadsheet with a single worksheet grew to multiple worksheets with pie charts, column charts, and summary tables. ?Eventually this spreadsheet became two spreadsheets, then 3, then 10, each with multiple worksheets. ? By now Bob hired Jessica to help collate and manage all of the incoming spreadsheets from all the plants, and to ensure that everything was kept up to date, including all the charts updated to include the proper cell ranges, ?certain values highlighted in the correct background color, etc. ?This took up about 40% of Jessica’s time…copying and pasting values from incoming spreadsheets into her “master” spreadsheets and updating cell ranges. ?If you’ve ever had to do rote busy work, this is what it was like. ?Not really something you look forward to doing each morning.

And then Bob quit, leaving others to pick up where he left off. ? All of the workflows he created for managing?safety remained?hell, one of the spreadsheets named after him even kept his name long after he left. ?But by now, the system he created became unwieldy: lots of people firing off emails each Monday (or later in the week) with a bunch of data in them. Slightly different spreadsheet formats between each plant manager…missing information in some sheets. ?Jessica having to figure all of this out, update the correct sheets, and email the latest and greatest updated spreadsheets to certain managers.

All of this to say that systems to track things at the department level generally start out as simple things using existing tools like Excel and email, but eventually these simple systems become massive beasts that are hard to tame and control. ?And in a blink of an eye, a system that once took a few hours a week to manage becomes?2 to 3 full time equivalents to manage, with one person’s job description specifically mentioning the management of the system. ?And the worst part is that all of this costs?real money, but it’s hard to see that because the cost is buried in payroll hours.

The new way, and how it eliminated a ton of tedious, boring busy work

Here’s how the new system at AEP works: plant managers enter the contractor craft count and manhours themselves. ?If they wanted to, they could even get their contractors or subs to enter their own data. ?No emailed spreadsheets from anyone. ?No opening of emails, downloading attachments, opening “master” spreadsheets side by side with incoming spreadsheets. ?No copying and pasting from one spreadsheet cell to another spreadsheet cell in a different Excel file. ?No updating of chart cell ranges. ?No transcription mistakes. ?No factory-like rote work. ?Now Jessica reviews/edits/approves/deletes records, but it’s a matter of a few clicks, not an entire day’s worth of really really boring work. ?Now she can do what she does best: analyze that information. ?Now she can slice up the data any way she wants:

  • manhours and incident rates by month, by contractor, by craft type
  • incident rate graph plotted against craft count manhours
  • pie charts for body parts injured, nature of event, and by injury type
  • contractor rankings list (to see which contractor has the worst?incident rates…so that you can fire them and have the data to back you up)


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