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A Practical Approach to Data-Driven Occupational Health and Safety

How the fundamentals of data collection in OHS still matter in the age of digitalization and pandemics.

The fundamentals of data collection in OHS still matter in the age of digitalization and pandemics.Advances in digital technologies are truly changing occupational health and safety (OHS) management. Digitalization of workplace safety and health can bring tremendous opportunities and new challenges to OHS management.

SAI360 EHS&S principal consultant Dr. Rhandi Selde conducted a poll during our recent webinar and asked EHS and occupational health and safety professionals which of the following technologies they have adopted in their OHS program?

  • Cloud and mobile applications
  • Wearables
  • IoT devices such as sensors and drones
  • Data warehouses and data lakes
  • Predictive analytics
  • Machine learning/AI

The answer was not surprising, as many organizations leverage advanced technologies to improve OHS programs. Technology can create efficient and effective processes, heighten overall workforce safety and reduce occupational risks. Nevertheless, the digitalization of workplace safety and health may fail to manifest its promise of revolutionizing OHS practices and services unless organizations incorporate more data-driven approaches and a deliberate strategy for collecting, managing, and leveraging OHS data.

Ensuring reliability and credibility in data strategy

The pandemic did not just bring to light the benefits of an organized and robust occupational health and safety system. It also exposed flaws in OHS programs and brought out critical data reliability issues to the forefront. Data quality issues can erode confidence in the OHS program.  Therefore, ensuring the reliability and credibility of data is crucially important for a robust data-driven OHS program.

The adoption of industry 4.0 technologies is greatly celebrated across sectors, but it also has the potential to cause companies to accumulate streams of unstructured data, resulting in serious quality issues. Your OHS program can only go so far without the right data strategy and might spectacularly fail under the stress of major events such as the pandemic.

The fundamental question, therefore, is how do we deploy these new data-hungry technologies to improve workplace safety, protect worker health and reduce occupational risks?  In our view, to achieve a successful data-driven OHS, organizations need to take a holistic and organized view of their data strategies to enable a data-driven occupational health and safety management program. In addition, realizing the opportunities of digitized OHS depends on how the technology is implemented, managed and regulated.

Data-driven occupational health and safety is when data determines or justifies your plan of action or the design of your intervention strategies.

Data-driven occupational health and safety is not something that can be fundamentally improved by finding problems and fixing them. Instead, every organization should start by formulating a data strategy, improving the collection and use of OHS data, and preparing for future integrations with new OHS technologies.

Download and listen to our recent on-demand webinar by Rhandi Selde, Ph.D., Principal Consultant & SME, SAI360 EHS&S and learn what is required for a successful data-driven OHS. 


Learn more about SAI360 EHS&S for OHS management. 

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