Data in safety has always been a critical element in helping companies, and individuals avoid risk. Traditionally that data has been historical and based on the outcome action is then taken. That "lagging" indicator approach has done an excellent job in reducing injury over the years, but in the last decade we have hit a plateau and have not been able to see the gain provided in years past. Many companies are now trying to focus on "leading" indicators to help in preventing risks but have struggled to identify the correct data to track or how to gather and manage the data.
Advancements in wearable technology have opened the door to obtaining real-time data at the point of safety, the worker. Safety happens in real time, and the data we use to prevent injuries should also be the same. The advantages of real-time data in safety are many, but two areas that have real potential are real-time actionable data and leveraging data to build intelligence about potential risks.
Real-time actionable data is information coming directly from the workers in the form of observations, surveys and other behavioral inputs like remembering to wear the appropriate PPE. Using that data to address potential issues right away will mitigate risk and also reinforce a safety culture of action.
Leveraging data to build intelligence about potential risks is a sensitive subject in safety. We believe data in safety can be used to help predict risk, but the workers are the key solution. What you do with that data will determine whether or not you will continue to engage and receive data from your workers. You cannot create technology simply to turn employees into robots and solely rely on the device to let them know when they are in a risky situation. For wearable technology to work in safety, it must be embraced by the worker, and they need to believe and know that this technology will help them.