Improve Your Safety Culture Through a Safety Observation Program that can Predict and Prevent Workplace Injuries
Advanced and Predictive Analytics Can Improve Your Company’s Safety Culture
One of the most powerful ways we have seen companies improve their safety culture is by taking a proactive rather than reactive approach to safety. They do this by collecting workplace safety observations, and then using advanced and predictive analytics on their observation data set to predict and prevent workplace injuries.
This type of approach sends a powerful message to employees – it says “we’re not going to wait for people to get hurt to learn how to keep people safe.” Incident and near-miss investigations are helpful, but they are still reactionary.
Proactive and progressive safety cultures recognize at least three issues with safety programs that are ONLY focused on incident analysis:
- These programs are expensive. The National Safety Council suggests that the average cost of an incident is $30,000. Why wait for a costly incident to occur to figure out how to stop the next one? Observation programs are relatively inexpensive to run when compared to the cost of just one incident.
- As incident levels are reduced, you have fewer incidents to analyze and thus less data to review. Conversely, observations are always readily available – especially if you use mobile technology to collect them on your jobsite.
- It sends a horrible message to employees. Basically you are saying, “Jim, I am going to wait until you sever your arm in our assembly line to figure out how to keep Susie safe. In the meantime, keep working hard because we have production schedules to hit!” This is no way to build a strong safety culture and an engaged workforce.
To help build an even stronger safety culture, it is important to involve your frontline workforce in the observation process. This gets them even more engaged in personally owning safety through their participation in the program. The observation program becomes their opportunity to identify where they and their colleagues are personally at risk. Observations from frontline employees can be based on simple, five-question checklists that are focused on just a few critical areas like “eyes on task,” “using the proper tools,” and “housekeeping.”
However, if you involve your frontline workers in your observation program, you better be prepared to fix what they find or they will quickly become disillusioned with the process and start to disengage, which can have a negative effect on your safety culture. This is often called a “venomous cycle.” Conversely, if your employees are actively engaged in giving you feedback through your observation process, and you quickly address their areas of risk, you will create a “virtuous cycle.” Employees will be motivated to provide more observations because they know you are actually doing something with their data.