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Predictive Analysis: The Linchpin of Next-Generation Workplace Safety Programs

Most EHS professionals believe predictive analytics tools could have a transformative impact on workplace safety programs, allowing organizations of all sizes to minimize the serious hazards that cause workplace injuries.

American workplaces are the safest they have ever been. The rate of total recordable cases of injury dropped to 2.8 for every 100 full-time employees in 2017, the latest year for which data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics is available. For more than a decade now, there has been a continuous decline in the number of reportable workplace injuries. 

However, serious occupational dangers persist, as demonstrated by the recent rise in fatal workplace injuries. Almost 5,200 employees in US met with fatal accidents in 2017, marking the third consecutive year for which this figure has increased, according to analysts for the BLS.

This development has forced environmental health and safety professional across numerous industries to search for transformative strategies capable of reducing the likelihood of both nonfatal and lethal injuries. Most have come to the conclusion that predictive analysis is the answer.

Production and maintenance specialists commonly employ this approach, leveraging data-backed insights to predict and prevent issues that affect productivity before they unfold. The majority of these shop floor practitioners have seen considerable return on investment, with many using predictive workflows to catalyze operational transformation.

As a result, EHS professionals believe such processes could have a similar impact on workplace safety programs, empowering organizations of all sizes to minimize the hazards before they cause injury in their facilities.

Understanding The Predictive ApproachPredictive Analysis

Today, numerous businesses use predictive analysis to bolster their operations. Most employ the methodology on the shop floor, leveraging advanced software to monitor mission-critical production assets and ensure they are properly maintained to reduce the likelihood of costly downtime.

Almost 30 percent of industrial firms employ this approach, according to research from Plant Services. Roughly 45 percent of these organizations report significant return on investment, while another 46 percent predict results will materialize with further program optimization. Innovators in the EHS space think predictive analysis could yield similar success when applied to workplace safety initiatives, but how would this work?

Analysts for Deloitte recently looked at this question and proposed a three-step predictive workflow designed to bolster workplace safety:

  • Information gathering and source evaluation: Here, EHS teams collect historical workplace injury information and validate and structure this data for further analysis. During this stage, personnel also develop the hypotheses for key EHS issues that could potentially be addressed through predictive solutions.
  • Data validation and analysis: During this phase, teams create segmentation models and run data through them to identify common causes of workplace injury. Subject matter experts then explore these catalysts in depth while evaluating existing safety protocols.
  • Modeling and forecasting: With reliable workplace injury data, EHS teams can pinpoint potential safety risks and work with operational leaders to design workable yet effective solutions.

Predictive methodologies allow EHS staff to identify and address hazards before workers get injured, just as maintenance teams fix small mechanical issues before the asset collapses. For this reason, authorities in the EHS arena, including those working for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health, believe this strategy constitutes the future of workplace safety operations.

Things to Keep in Mind When Moving Forward with Predictive Analysis

Businesses looking to adopt this transformative approach may encounter some barriers. Some firms might not have the tools needed to collect and analyze reliable data, while others may have too much information that's nearly impossible to navigate. Sometimes, inaction in this area correlates to a perceived lack of internal talent. Enterprises might assume their EHS and operations teams do not have the necessary skills needed to manage predictive workflows and consequently opt to maintain the status quo.

No matter the reason, maintaining the occupational safety status quo is becoming an increasingly costly option. The U.S. job market continues to strengthen and employees can simply pass up roles at organizations that do not adhere to best-in-class worker safety standards. Companies in this group will struggle to staff their operations, resulting in falling productivity. There could be compounding effect when companies not only lose out on adding necessary talent, but also lose productivity when the current employees meet with an injury or accident. 

Predictive analysis can not only help businesses recover lost market share, but also empower those with relatively strong EHS programs in place to take their protocols to the next level.

ProcessMAP helps firms of all sizes develop and deploy predictive workplace safety methodologies through an innovative suite of EHS solutions. Our software facilitates seamless data collection and analysis efforts while addressing ancillary issues such as regulatory compliance and profitability.

Connect with us today to learn how our solutions can help drive your EHS initiatives.

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