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Workplace Safety Trends in 2020: Staying Safe in the New Decade

Posted by EHS Insight Resources on January 6, 2020 at 10:38 AM

It’s a brand new decade, and in the early hours of the new year, workplace safety has emerged as a top priority for companies across the board.

More than that, companies are coming to realize that a proactive approach to worker safety is more than just an investment in future productivity – it’s a demonstrated commitment to their employees. And with employees changing jobs every five years or less, companies have to show why they’re worthwhile as an employer.

Are you ready to invest in a brighter, safer new decade? Here’s a look at the biggest workplace safety trends in 2020 and what they mean for your workforce.

A Holistic View of Health and Wellness

With companies taking a broader view of safety as a workplace benefit, it should come as no surprise that their view of health and wellness has become more holistic as well, shifting away from physical health toward a multifaceted approach encompassing physical, emotional, social, financial, and environmental health.

The best example of this changing perspective comes from the Total Worker Health concept put forth by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). Total Worker Health builds on the idea that work is a social determinant of health.

Rather than focusing solely on workplace accident prevention, Total Worker Health promotes programs, policies, and practices that integrate hazard prevention with the promotion of injury and illness prevention to advance overall worker wellbeing.

Wearing More Hats

Once upon a time, safety professionals focused on one or two areas of occupational health and safety accountability. Nowadays, professionals are wearing more “hats” than ever, and the era of the specialist is fading in favor of generalists.

In some cases, instead of hiring multiple professionals to focus on several disparate areas of workplace health and safety, companies are hiring smaller teams of generalists and giving them multiple areas of responsibility.

This is an especially important trend for companies to watch, as safety teams may be restructured to perform more efficiently. Support from other departments will become ever more critical. Safety professionals will have to be smarter about how they integrate tools and resources to manage their tasks effectively, and the most successful professionals will be those who get in the habit of viewing the big picture.

High Tech and High Touch: Using Safety Data as a Predictive Tool

If you’re not leveraging your safety data, it’s just numbers. Here’s how you can use safety data as a predictive tool to protect your workers.

You track a lot of safety data. So much data you could build a lake and swim in it. You know there are answers somewhere in all those numbers, but you don’t know how to find them.

Sound familiar?

If you’re like many EHS departments, you understand the value of collecting data but aren’t quite sure what to do with it once you have it. We say it’s time to think about your data from a new perspective. You see, data isn’t just the details of today – it’s the patterns that will stop disasters tomorrow.

How Predictive Analytics Informs Safety

If anything, predictive analytics is the backbone of safety data. If you’re not collecting data to perform safety analytics, you’re not seeing real results from that data.

However, this isn’t a psychic staring into a crystal ball, nor is it a computer wizard pulled from the annals of the IT basement. To perform predictive modeling (and do so in a timeframe that’s actually efficient), you need to leverage machine learning.

That’s because the human brain can only manage four pieces of information at once, and we’re notoriously bad at multitasking. If you want to see trends in your data, you’ll need to give the humans in the office some help. Some software can handle thousands of data streams at once and use them to identify patterns.

Principles of Successful Predictive Analytics

You need three principles for successful predictive analytics:

  1. Accuracy
  2. Stability
  3. Risk segregation

The output is only as good as the input, so you want to make sure your safety data is sound. You also want to make sure that your model for measuring the data is consistent across data sets, which is where machine learning comes in.

Finally, there’s risk segregation. The first two principles are used to verify the scientific validity of the model, but risk segregation is more about accepting that no model is perfect, nor can any model predict the future. It’s more about putting data in context and asking the right questions.

How to Use It

With that in mind, let’s talk about how you can use your safety data in predictive analytics.

Let’s say, for example, you collect data on incidents for a period of months. And let’s say you want to find out whether there’s some sort of pattern in the incidents. You can plug that safety data into predictive software to see if certain incidents are more frequent, or tend to happen at certain times or happen when certain conditions are present.

This will allow you to look at the current conditions and make educated predictions about the likelihood of certain incidents happening in the future. Then you can take steps to mitigate those incidents from happening.

Turn Your Safety Data into Actions

The good news is that you have more safety data than ever before to make accurate predictions. The better news is that EHS software is now equipped to handle Big Data quickly and effectively.

So, if you could stop workplace accidents before they happen, the real question is why you haven’t invested in safety software yet? If you’re looking for the right solution, we’ve got exactly what you’ve been looking for: safety software that makes it easy to manage all your incoming data in one user-friendly interface. Want to find out how it works? Get in touch today to schedule a demo.

In Closing

Few things are more personal than employee health, and as EHS professionals shift from specialization to generalization and focus on a holistic view of health and safety, safety will become increasingly high tech and high touch. Plus, as employees come to expect personalization in every area of their lives, they will have the same expectation of their health and safety programs.

Learn more about how software technologies will play in role in EHS management in 2020 and beyond.

Topics: Workplace Health and Safety, EHS Management, Industry Insights, Trends, Safety Management, Safety Culture

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