Companies need to transform safety initiatives to enable data-driven insights. This intelligence provides a comprehensive look at all locations and employees to proactively monitor and act to prevent overall threats and risk. In doing so it also creates new value in time management and cost efficiencies.

The connected workplace

With the number of connected devices expected to reach 100 billion by 2025, the opportunities to manage environmental health and safety (EHS) risks in real time are increasing. Connected technology enhances EHS management practices and helps companies reduce the risk of injury to workers and harmful impacts to the environment.

Connected technologies provide vast amounts of data to analyze and drive real-time monitoring and decision making. Leverage data sensors and wearable devices to improve preventive health and safety capabilities. Comprehensive data points captured in an EHS platform can also integrate with workers’ compensation third party administrators (TPA) and human resource systems to spot trends and reduce the risk of future incidents.

For example, analysis of historical data from connected devices and incidents can show that certain material handling activities pose significant health and safety risks. With this insight, you can identify opportunities to upgrade safety equipment and put new procedures in place to mitigate future incidents. Safety departments that adopt sensors and in-memory analytics that increase the speed, performance and reliability when querying data react more quickly to reminders, alerts and alarms. This results in higher overall equipment effectiveness and more efficient maintenance.

A new level of insight

With connected technologies in place, the resulting information is used as a forecasting tool for more informed EHS management and decision-making. You are constantly monitoring, aggregating and analyzing the data from various sensors. These sensors can be installed across a connected facility or workplace and provide real-time data to initiate preventative actions.

For example, sensors are often installed to measure parameters at a remote or high-risk maintenance infrastructure that is difficult or dangerous to physically access. Such infrastructure can be situated below the surface, atop high terrain, or even in isolated areas. Data from these places allows companies to prepare for emergency planning, maintenance and compliance activities.

Mobile aspects surrounding the Internet of Things (IoT) also allows constant and live monitoring of emote work environments such as drilling platforms, fleet vehicles or field service employees.  Are harmful gases reaching a permissible exposure limit (PEL) in an occupied confined space? Are there spills or releases of dangerous goods near an employee?  Is the noise level reaching the 85db threshold? Is an employee heart rate rising dangerously when conducting a high stress task? By combining portable meters, personal monitoring devices or active RFID tags for location determination, these health and safety issues can be tracked and addressed quickly with more cost effectiveness.

Data from device monitoring and incident information can be analyzed to decipher key trends and required actions to help mitigate the risk of future incidents. With data analytics, businesses can initiate corrective and preventative actions more quickly and accurately. For instance, managers can identify patterns about where, when and how incidents are occurring and, with cognitive business intelligence, predict potential future reoccurrences and proactively determine the best plan of action for mitigation.

Increasing operational efficiency

Fewer incidents through data-driven insight directly lead to less downtime for production lines. Plus, a more connected workplace enhances accountability and performance, and increases regulatory compliance by creating greater transparency. EHS managers can streamline reporting and tracking of worker injury/illness, environmental, property damage and vehicular incidents to align with OSHA, EPA, MSHA and other regulatory or inter-company requirements.

Connected objects will also automate processes, find and self-correct problems, and record and send data to central servers. All of this data can be analyzed to modify and improve products and processes and help mitigate EHS risks.Instead of pulling data points from a variety of systems, safety managers can now focus more on analyzing the data intelligence and use this information to more accurately assess and mitigate risk, educate employees and improve or adopt risk control measures.

Improving the bottom line

Using comprehensive EHS technology is about getting the right information, to the right people, at the right time so measurable gains can be achieved to reduce workplace injuries. There can also be financial gains. Costs to treat employee injuries will be reduced, as well as workers’ compensation claims, OSHA fines and loss of expensive equipment and materials. Connected technology promotes and enables transparency, helping EHS managers to openly communicate up the chain to their stakeholders about costs, future needs and improvements made.