Don’t let the name scare you – big data in this case refers to combining multiple data sources to detect trends, patterns, and insights outside of individual data sets. This concept is becoming more and more integrated with companies of all industries and sizes, from leading marketing initiatives to gauging turnover to monitoring sales and profits. But one of data’s biggest opportunities in the workplace is also one of its most underutilized: environmental health and safety departments.
Consider the last time you became aware of a major safety issue. Did you observe it yourself? Did an employee notify you about a hazard? Or did you glean it from the heaps of safety data you’ve collected over months and years?
It’s true that the human element is largely responsible for pointing out potential danger in the work environment. You rely on your team to uphold safe practices, undergo regular training, and participate in creating a strong safety culture. On the surface, these things are relatively easy to spot. But what about the problems that occur repeatedly over time? What about the metrics outside of “outcome based” ones, like injuries and incidents? What about the potential danger that could occur from current conditions?
Lack of major incidents doesn’t mean you’re fostering a safe workplace. “Lagging” metrics like these are one of the biggest facades of safety departments because they do not fully represent your operations. That’s why many departments are relying on multiple data sources to get a realistic snapshot what they’re doing well – and what desperately needs to be improved on.
You might not realize it, but you probably already collect enough safety data to give you valuable insights. The problem doesn’t lie in lack of data – it’s how it’s collected, amassed, and used. All companies have their own forms and reports to fill out, but then what?
When collected and leveraged correctly, data can reveal a heaping pile of insights you never knew existed. From trends over time to predictive analytics, safety departments are using EHS software to get a holistic view into daily operations for the benefit of both workers and their organizations.
As a result, safety departments can better focus on “leading” metrics, such as those that help limit risk and enable companies to be more proactive in improving its operations. You have the data – now it’s a matter of finding the best ways to combine it to give you the best chance of making real improvements.
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