The Health and Safety Prong of Risk Management

The Health and Safety Prong of Risk Management

Lance Norris, CSP, HSE Director, Redi Services LLC

Lance Norris, CSP, HSE Director, Redi Services LLC

What does the future hold for the relationship between information technology and risk management? This article will drill down on the health and safety aspects of the field of risk management. For readers unfamiliar with health and safety management, it is the analysis and mitigation of corporate risk focused on protecting employees from injury or illness due to work related hazards. Multiple state, federal and international regulatory agencies exist to help protect employees through enforced regulation. These agencies track incident data collected after life threatening or catastrophic incidents. The work performed by these agencies serves an incalculable purpose, but still too many people succumb to work-related tragedy. Taking the information about known work place hazards and formulating the information in to the right mitigating strategies could potentially lead to the goal of preventing workplace injuries or illnesses.

Many companies are tracking data on incidents that have caused First Aid injuries that were not serious enough to require reporting to the regulatory agencies, but could still shed some light on how to better mitigate the risks going forward. Even better than analyzing First Aid injuries, many companies, particularly in the energy industry track Near Misses.  One definition of a Near Miss, would include a situation with a high potential that under slightly different circumstances could result in a serious life or limb threatening injury or even a catastrophic incident. Mining this data to evaluate these types of events could help companies focus in on the hazards that will lead to more significant incidents.

"The utilization of technology to manage health and safety risks has accelerated in recent years, and there seems to be no limit to the possible opportunities. The stake could not be higher"

Utilizing Big Data to establish an international database about injury, illness and incident data that provides integrated access in to that data that transcends industries and geographic boundaries would save lives by preventing workplace incidents. Data mining will allow corporations and government entities to identify hazards and the appropriate best work practices to be shared more broadly than they now are. Each business must produce a profit or die, and, therefore, with limited resources they seek to mitigate their risks as part of an investment strategy. Big data will one day refine those investments down to the areas with the highest risk to human life or quality of life, and to areas with the highest exposure.

Real-time data feedback loops will help decision makers make course corrections proactively by analyzing the leading indicators that could be warning of impending danger. Financial analysis has followed this pattern. There are numerous indices used by top decision makers that provide instant insight to the financial performance of an organization. Risk management is more of an art than a science. The field is still developing common performance indicators and most of the performance indicators that have been implemented are lagging indicators that lead to largely ineffective and reactive course corrections.

Shared data connecting companies in similar risk categories (identified by NAICS code or Worker’s Comp code), will help develop more accurate standards to establish better leading indicators. Quality leading indicators will help protect the health and safety of more and more employees. Every company wants to make sure that each employee gets home at the end of the day safely.

The utilization of technology to manage health and safety risks has accelerated in recent years, and there seems to be no limit to the possible opportunities. The stake could not be higher.

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