Big data can determine a number of things such as what products people will buy, how to improve crime prevention, and ways to boost science and research. Lately, employers have taken advantage of big data toward improving workplace safety.
This is no longer science fiction, and that’s why society has increasingly relied on big data and analytics. Big data is a collection of data from numerous sources that gets analyzed to reveal patterns and trends typically related to human behavior.
Clues toward preventing future mishaps
Today, a number of workplaces have been turning to big data to predict and prevent workplace injuries. With knowledge gained from big data, employers can review past injuries, illnesses and deaths, all of which can provide vital clues toward preventing future mishaps.
According to the Bureau of Statistics, more than 3 million workers suffer an injury or illness on the job. Employers hope that knowledge gained from big data will shrink these numbers.
Through big data, a number of work-related factors can be reviewed. Are slip-and-fall injuries increasing? Are safety programs effective? What injury treatments are effective? How long has the employee worked in this role? How frequent are the incidents? How severe are the injuries? What were contributing factors?
Modifying work environments, better training
Since many work-related injuries are attributed to workers new to the job, perhaps big data can help identify the shared characteristics of each incident. Results could lead to:
- Work environments being modified
- Workers being better trained
- Improved protections provided
OSHA is on board, too
In 2016, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) took a big step toward promoting big data when it set a rule to modernize data collection to better inform workers, employers and the public about workplace safety.
The new rule requires thousands of employers in high-hazard industries to annually send OSHA data on injuries and illnesses. The employers already were required to collect the data, which will be posted on OSHA’s website. Before the rule was implemented, little or no information on workplace injuries or illnesses at employers was made public or available to OSHA.
The shared data through OSHA may:
- Identify workplaces where the risk of injury is lowest
- Get employers to improve their safety programs
- Provide researchers information to better study causes of workplace injuries
- Identify new workplace safety hazards before they become widespread
- Help employers evaluate injury and illness prevention programs
Big data is here to stay, and employers just may be able to improve their safety programs by relying on it.