Can We Use Data to Improve Safety Performance?

Reporting and data

Historically, we have only analysed lag indicators to determine safety performance. In doing so, using a root cause analysis methodology, human factors are identified as the main cause of workplace incidents, injuries and fatalities. These days, safety professionals have more data than ever before including predictive, leading and sensor data and they recognise that it’s not only the human factor that creates risk.

Machine learning and AI technologies are collecting so much data it’s hard to see the wood from the trees. Interpreting this data is now a job for a team of specialists to monitor, measure, prioritise and understand where their safety programs will have the most impact. They need tools to leverage the data to accurately identify root causes, examine trends and determine which proactive measures are best to drive safety performance.

When asked how health and safety managers would like to use data to improve safety performance they want to:

  • predict workplace injuries
  • monitor and benchmark their safety culture
  • improve their compliance,
  • tie safety to productivity.

What Do You Do With All of This Data?

Collecting data is now a priority focus for many organisations. This requires identifying all of the unused and under analysed data that you can. The data needs to be complete and ‘clean’ because this is what the safety performance score will be measured. The data can include data from enterprise resource planning systems, equipment maintenance systems, third-party information from weather reports, geospatial information from imagery, training records and near-miss incident reports. Once the data is ready, the next step is to analyse and interpret between leading versus lagging indicators, using:

  • a descriptive context where data is used to tell what happened
  • a diagnostic tool that can explain why something happened (by looking at leading and lagging indicators)
  • predictive analytics that can be used to manipulate variables that test the hypothesis of what will happen
  • the information in a prescriptive manner to determine tactical direction on which actions to take to prevent an incident.

Thankfully, technology is here to help. There are a number of data analytics solutions and business intelligence offerings on the market that predict safety outcomes and potential safety issues. By identifying risks, rectification can commence with targeted interventions and dedicated resources. These outcomes can be used to drive operational efficiencies and safety performance improvements. Research conducted revealed that organisations still have a long way to go to start including leading indicators when measuring safety performance.

Read our article, What Do You Do With Your Safety Audit Data?

How Do We Measure Safety Performance?

Safety performance is measured using both lag and leading indicators. To begin with, recorded numbers (lag indicators) are collected including the number of:

  • reported incidents
  • audit findings
  • lost-time, medically treated and first-aid injuries
  • repeated incidents
  • reported hazards

From there, leading indicators such as the time taken to rectify a hazard or close out an incident should be collated.

Staff training completions, including safety inductions, hazard perception training and other safety training, should also be recorded. It’s also a good idea to note the number of senior leaders safety visits, safety and toolbox meetings and attendance rates and safety observations.

Other leading indicators that can be measured include the financial investment dedicated to safety, tools such as wearables (read our article on smartwatches), technologies such as sensors (read our article on sensors) and geolocation, training delivery methods including immersion and gamification, the number of team members committed to workplace safety and the time allotted to their activities to improve safety performance.

Employee training and engagement in safety programs should be recorded to provide evidence of training competency. It’s also a good idea to record the numbers of observations, suggestions and voluntary participation in safety and related programs and committees. Items recorded could include the:

  • ratio of man-hours trained compared to worked hours
  • pass rate of training competency evaluations
  • results of training feedback surveys
  • number of observations
  • number of suggestions
  • man-hours spent on safety committees
  • percentage of employee suggestions adopted by management.

See our short course, Conducting a Safety Audit.

Developing a Safety Scorecard

The decision-making and reporting processes should be driven around practical targets underpinned by a root cause analysis. And, there are some important questions that need to be asked when conducting a root cause analysis including:

  • what are the main drivers of incidents in our organisation?
  • what can we do to change?
  • how does changing the weighting of certain variables impact the organisation’s performance?

Start by recording a baseline and defining a target for each measure and use this to create a safety culture or performance score for each measure. Introduce one change at a time with a goal to affect culture/safety performance by a particular amount.  Record the score and compare it against the baseline and the set target.  From there, review and adjust to understand priorities and further changes.

See our article, How to Prepare for a Safety Audit.

How Tap into Safety Can Help

Tap into Safety can provide data that documents safety knowledge gaps in real-time. Analysing this leading data predicts where an incident is likely to occur. This information helps when investigating the root cause of an incident or how to minimise the risk of one occurring.

The Tap into Safety training platform offers interactive and engaging hazard perception training that is delivered via smart devices and online to reduce risk. Real workplace photographic, panoramic examples are used to immerse the worker in their workplace, along with succinct microlearning videos and assessments.

The Platform provides well-designed, visually pleasing, interactive, mobile and online training that includes gamification. Our delivery methods not only engage the user but encourage problem-solving and knowledge retention. Our detailed reports support your journey to provide a safe and mentally healthy workplace with evidence of competency and compliance.

The training courses have been designed to also support workers with low literacy or minimal English language capabilities. Delivered in 15-minutes, the training can even be accessed by sub-contractors with their competencies verified before they step foot on your site.

The Tap into Safety Platform includes a substantial library of out of the box safety training courses, offers a quick and easy safety induction, and we can create custom courses or content for your organisation. If you’d like to know more about how we can lift your safety performance, please contact us or click through to try a free online demo.

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