Many construction companies use hazard reporting systems to engage the workforce in creating a safer work environment. These systems often incorporate some form of digital or paper-based hazard identification report that workers use to identify and report hazards they observe. If implemented effectively, such tools positively impact the identification and management of safety hazards. When hazard reports are taken and followed up, it demonstrates to the workforce that management is taking their concerns seriously.

While off-the-shelf software solutions may offer digital templates for hazard reporting, they often come with hefty subscription costs and fees for form updates or changes. On the other hand, paper-based options can be cumbersome when it comes to data collation and analysis. There is a unique solution for construction companies seeking a cost-effective alternative to paper-based systems and third-party software: creating an AI-enabled hazard reporting system using freely available software.

Step 1 – Build your Form

Creating a hazard reporting form using Google Forms is straightforward. This intuitive software, readily available with a Google account, allows you to design a form that suits your needs. Click on the 3x3 grid of dots next to your Google profile picture to access Forms.

Adding fields to your Form is straightforward. Click the “Add Question” icon and select from several question types, such as dropdowns, multiple choice, file upload and more. Once you’ve chosen a question type, it’s just a matter of providing the question text and any dropdown or multiple-choice answers if applicable.

I created a sample hazard reporting form for this article, keeping it simple for demonstration purposes. It comprises five fields, beginning with the location of the hazard observed.





Connecting to your Database

Want to know what areas of your project have the most hazards identified? Put a location field for one of your questions. Want to know which of your superintendents might need support? Put a field in to determine who’s responsible for the area. 

We will want to store the collected information so that our program can analyze
 it. So, once you’ve designed the Google Form, you’ll want to link your gathered data to a Google Sheet. 


Linking to a Google Sheet, too, is simple. Navigate to the “Responses” tab and select “Link to Sheets”. From there, you will be asked to create a new sheet or link it to an existing one. It’s simplest to make a new one and link it to your Form. Google does the rest and compiles the data from all the forms submitted to the sheet you’ve named.

Connecting the Form to a Sheet allows you to automatically store the Form responses in a spreadsheet, as shown below. In this example, the sheet contains all the fields I created when I built the Form. It also logs the timestamp, showing when the Form user entered the hazard ID.


Step 2 – Build a Bot using Zapier

Zapier is powerful free software that allows you to automate tasks done by individual apps into workflows. For instance, you can design a workflow that automatically emails your loved ones a happy birthday message when their birthday appears on your calendar.

We want Zapier to leverage AI to analyze the data in our Google Sheet whenever someone makes a new entry. Then, the workflow bot should notify our superintendent or us about any significant risks or trends that require attention. The setup process is simple, making it accessible even to those with limited technical expertise.

Zapier Central has a reasonably intuitive interface. There are two tabs to choose from at the top of the window: "Chat" and "Activity." The Chat tab is where you design your Bot. The great thing about designing bots with Zapier is that you can prompt it by describing what you want the Bot to do. After that, the Zapier AI will provide instructions on how to design your Bot.

 The Prompt: Workers fill out a Google form whenever they see a hazard. The information will be automatically entered into a Google sheet when the Form is submitted. The Google sheet will organize the data and use AI to identify trends.


Step 3 - Automating the Process and Adding AI

I've created a Zapier automation that reviews the Google Sheet each time someone makes a new report. It uses AI to swiftly identify trends in the data and promptly sends me an email with a summary of the latest hazard ID entered and any trends. This efficient process ensures that potential risks are identified and addressed timely.

Zapier’s bots can perform several functions:

  • Behaviors: Behaviors are made up of Instructions, Triggers, and Actions. The Instructions for the hazard-reporting Bot’s behavior look like this:

"When new hazards are reported on the Hazard IDs sheet (trigger), send [email protected] an email (action). Let him know if the hazard has been corrected or if additional follow-up will be required. Add a sentence telling him if there appears to be a trend in the data. Sign off emails as "Safety Bot.”

Once you have written your instructions, Zapier will recommend triggers. In this case, Zapier recommended a trigger for when a new row was entered in my Google Sheet and an action to send an email to my email address. I had to permit Zapier to access my Google Sheets and send emails from my Outlook account.

  • Instant Actions: My Bot doesn't have any instant actions, but you can command your Bot to perform instant actions. For instance, you might tell the Bot to schedule an inspection of a work area identified in one of the Hazard IDs.
  • Data Sources: These provide Zapier access to a source (e.g., Google Sheets) for information retrieval. Zapier can analyze, summarize, and answer complex queries about the data. In my case, I want Zapier to retrieve the latest Hazard ID input and analyze all the data for trends. I included the trend analysis in my prompt. Zapier accomplishes the analysis by having its AI view my Google Sheet.

Step 4 – Test

Once you've set up your hazard reporting system, Zapier provides a safe and controlled environment for testing. Testing allows you to ensure that your automation and behaviors function as intended, giving you peace of mind before implementing the system.


The email above came to me within a few minutes of submitting a hazard ID. It gives a tidy summary of the hazard and a concise summary of a trend the AI has identified. I didn’t prompt the AI to make recommendations, but it went ahead and did that on its own.


The Hazard Reporting system I’ve described is free to build and operate. Zapier Central doesn’t charge for the bots at the time of this writing. It helps develop and access Google’s Forms and Sheets software and comes with a Google account. Systems like these might be attractive to small or medium-sized businesses without the budget for a more extensive enterprise system. Combining them with Zapier and its AI automation means you don't have to sacrifice functionality, and you may gain in terms of how your company can analyze its data and use (rather than merely collect) information from the field.