3 Ways Data Has Helped Improve Safety in the Workplace

Workplace safety is a challenge for every company. Great managers are using these big data tools to identify and correct workplace hazards for employees and customers.

January 4, 2018
41 Shares 4,253 Views

Injuries in the workplace are a nightmare for both employees and their employers. They can put a worker out of commission and possibly cost them their livelihood. In some cases, slack in workplace safety can even lead to death. No employer wants that on their conscience.

There’s also the financial aspect to consider. According to research from EHS Today, injured workers cost companies more than $62 billion a year. Repeated injuries can also damage a company’s reputation, and negative media can take away business.

When factoring in the costs of workplace injury, there are many considerations to make.

“Workplace accidents impact employees’ physical, emotional and financial wellbeing,” Debbie Michel, general manager of Liberty Mutual’s National Insurance Casualty operation told EHS Today. “They also financially burden employers, who pay all of the medical costs related to a workplace injury, together with some portion of an injured employee’s pay. Besides these direct costs, workplace injuries also produce such indirect costs for employers as hiring temporary employees, lost productivity, quality disruptions and damage to a company’s employee engagement and external reputation.”

There’s also the risk of being sued for personal injury compensation. It’s true that the employee who went through the accident deserves rightful compensation, but it’s often a difficult cost for the employer to absorb.

A worker’s health and safety should be the number one priority for an employer. It’s virtually impossible to stop accidents completely, thanks to human error, but modern data lets us track some reasons behind injuries. Using data, organizations can significantly reduce the number of accidents that occur on their property.

1. Access OSHA Reports

The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) was instituted to standardize health and safety for American employees. In an effort to provide a higher standard of safety for U.S. workplaces, they require that more than 750,000 of the nation’s key employers submit an annual report that details workplace injuries, illnesses, and other accidents.

“OSHA believes that public disclosure will encourage employers to improve workplace safety and provide valuable information to workers, job seekers, customers, researchers and the general public,” said David Michaels, Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health. “[The data] will also help OSHA better target our compliance assistance and enforcement resources at establishments where workers are at greatest risk.”

Not only does this put more pressure on employers to provide a more stable work environment, but it also provides valuable information for employers on avoiding future accidents. The reports are available for online publication, and OSHA analysts often create key finding reports that can promote greater health and wellness in the the workplace.

2. Identify Root Causes from In-House Reports

Organizations can also access key information regarding incidents on their own work floors. They can review open and closed cases to identify problems with their operations and any necessary changes.

“Examine the data for the top employee attributes linked with higher and lower frequency and severity of safety incidents — including those for near misses and lost time,” recommends Ian Cook of TLNT.com. “Are more accidents happening with new staff? This could indicate lack of experience, and the need for more safety training during onboarding.”

Cook points out that there are many possibilities for the underlying causes of accidents, and understanding their cause is the key to prevention, whether it be greater training, more supervision on the ground floor, or more safety gates surrounding equipment.

3. Identify the Frequency of Incidents

Another key finding on your in-house data reports is the frequency of accidents. This is most useful when comparing your accident reports with other companies of similar size in the OSHA database. You can identify what might be considered an “acceptable” number of accidents in your industry.

You can look at the frequency of incidents using research from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. There’s a simple application on the BLS website to connect employers with those statistics. Their findings will hinge on different factors.

“Among all private industry employers, the rate of nonfatal workplace injuries and illnesses in 2011 was 3.5 per 100 full-time equivalent workers,” says an article on the BLS website. “Industry data show a wide variation in rates across employers, including a rate of 5.0 among healthcare and social assistance employers and a rate of 1.4 in establishments engaged in financial activities. Likewise, rates vary by state, often as a function of the industry mix within a state.”

Use these figures to help you identify areas of improvement that can be made in your own corporation.

It’s not easy, even with all of the data at our disposal, to identify the root causes of workplace injuries. However, by tracking data and constantly looking for ways to improve within your industry, you can significantly improve your employee’s situations and save big at the same time.