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Did you Know? Using QR Codes and NFCs Can Increase your EHS Incident Reporting!

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Author Photo
Lewis Magan
Business Development Manager EMEA
Published On
December 3, 2020

Want to increase incident reporting at work without the high upfront cost and steep learning curve? These technologies may just be what you’re looking for.

Is your company’s low incident reporting rate a concern for you as an Environmental, Health and Safety professional? You are not alone. Did you know that half of the health and safety incidents in 2019 may have not been reported according to RIDDOR? We all know that needs to change.

Over the last 6 years working at Airsweb, I can vouch for the incredible impact simple technology solutions can have on incident reporting. Many of our clients have benefited from accessing some of the innovation that Airsweb have invested and exploited over the last few years.  WhatsApp, Voice First with QR codes and NFC’s also being part of the Innovation in AVA.

As an EHS professional, you are motivated to find solutions, tools and strategies to improve environmental health and safety reporting at work. The problem is, they don’t exactly get the managements attention that they respect some times. The assumed upfront cost and the user learning curve required to implement them are quite high. But with QR codes and NFCs these are simple apps that have been around for some time. They didn’t really take off in the areas they were originally created for such as marketing promotions, but they are proving to be extremely effective in Health and Safety reporting.

Let me explain!

Quick Response (QR) codes and Near Field Communication (NFC) devices. These technologies have been around for quite some time - since 1944 for the QR codes and 2002 for the NFC, to be exact. You’re most likely to have seen or used them at least once in your life.

NFC for Health and Safety

Most of us at some point, and often or not, paid for goods using cashless cards, which means you’ve already used an NFC device. An NFC is a short-range technology that allows devices to communicate without contact. It’s the technology responsible for why you no longer have to swipe your credit cards on POS channels.

It is basically a chip that can be embedded in devices. You can use NFC tags to store digital information such as a web page or an app. When applied for health and safety, you can use this to provide access to your Airsweb AVA platform, a link to an SHP library, or a risk assessment form.

An NFC device can be really cheap. A simple NFC wristband can cost as low as £2 a piece. At this cost, you can distribute them to contractors whenever they come on-site so that whenever they witness a close call, a near miss, or an incident, they can report them right away.

It is an excellent way to track and record incidents involving fringe workers. All they need to do is to scan the NFC device on their smartphones and it will automatically take them to the incident reporting page. They don’t need to log on to an app or a website but they can submit complete information about the incident quickly and even anonymously which removes the fear of reprisal among workers and encourages them to report incidents freely.

NFC devices can also be reused many times. You can update or change the data programmed into them without having to buy new ones.

QR Codes for Swift Reporting of Safety Incidents

You’ve probably seen a QR code at least once in your life. It’s the two-dimensional barcode with black squares in a square grid on a white background. It can also hold digital information that can be accessed through smartphones.

Just like the NFC, you can take advantage of this technology and use it for health and safety. Airsweb came up with a QR Code Mobile Call Reporting solution to remove the barriers for reporting of close calls, near misses, and incidents at work.

For example, the QR code can be linked to an incident report form and printed on strategically placed posters. Anyone who has something to report can come up to the QR code poster and scan it with their smartphones. It directs them to the AVA Airsweb incident report form instantly where they can fill in the required information with the help of AI chatbots.

When this innovative QR code solution was piloted by our client VolkerRail on the East-West Rail Phase 2 (EWR2) alliance, over 89% of close calls in eight weeks were reported via the QR method. When they rolled out this strategy across their business and projects, they saw a 59% increase in close calls. Around 35% of which came from the QR codes, which proves that it is effective at increasing incident reports.

The success of the QR code program at VolkerRail was also because of their internal campaign to ‘Just Report It’. Emma Glenc, Health and Safety Strategy and Performance Manager at VolkerRail Ltd, said in an interview with SHP, “If you think something is wrong, don’t spend time thinking what category it might be - report it! We wanted to give our workforce, and subcontractors, personal empowerment to quickly and easily report potential unsafe acts and conditions observed in the workplace.”  

The QR code solution is especially useful for companies that have a large workforce and many subcontractors who may be exposed to hazards but may not have direct and immediate access to the health and safety platform.

So, it is exciting that Colas Ltd, a UK construction company, rolled out the QR Code Mobile Call Reporting within their AVA Airsweb frictionless reporting system during the Global Safety Week in September 2020. This makes reporting easier and faster for workers. It also enables Colas to create a safe working space for its employees.


NFCs and QR codes are simple and low-cost technologies, but their positive impact on your incident reporting rates can be huge. They create a clearer picture of your company’s health and safety performance which can improve the safety decisions you make for your workplace. These technologies are definitely worth looking into.

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Lewis Magan

With a Degree in International Business Management, Lewis has 7 years of Business Development experience with a technical undertone driving his approach to strategic business partnerships. With global experience brings cultural appreciation and with expectations of introducing the latest technology, the forefront of many organisations strategies, Lewis’s knowledge of the benefits that Technology can bring to Environmental, Health & Safety is paramount to continuing to increase awareness and spread the consistent safety message across the globe! Lewis has a passion for social giving and has taken part in a series of marathons for his charities. He is also instrumental in helping Airsweb and the team raise funds for the Company Charity of the Year prior to 2020. He manages this with a great deal of enthusiasm, drive, and tenacity, traits he brings into his challenging and exciting role

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