OHS Canada Magazine

Data analytics can transform attitudes towards safety

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January 31, 2020
By Ian (Hyam) Nicacio

Compliance & Enforcement Health & Safety Human Resources Occupational Hygiene 3M Analytics Culture Data safety

Tracking workplace statistics can save time, ensure compliance

Detailed data can lend itself to strong insights that can inform safety, writes Ian Nicacio. (alotofpeople/Adobe Stock)

In 2018, there were 1,027 fatalities and 264,438 workplace injuries reported in Canada.

This statistic has always stood out to me and serves as a constant reminder of how important it is to foster a culture of employee safety in Canadian workplaces.

Regardless of company size, it’s pivotal for companies to ensure employees remain safe on the job.

Employee well-being is crucial to any successful operation and should be integrated into every company’s vision. It’s the right thing to do for employees, but it definitely takes time, trust and effort to build.

As a first step, I recommend tracking and making use of meaningful data in order to eventually bring workplace safety to the forefront of any organization.


The most common data collected around workplace safety often revolves around quantity of incidents, category and frequency of accidents, injuries as well as poor health.

“Incident date” and “severity of injury” are staples when it comes to this type of tracking, but I recommend companies expand their efforts and complement their tracking with more specific data points such as “time of day,” “supervisor name” and “body part” in order to create a more fulsome picture when it comes to analysis.

This type of detailed data can lend itself to strong insights and analytics that can better inform safety measures in work environments.

Unfortunately, a lot of organizations do not look to their data for insights or trends because it can take too much time or be too expensive.

While sometimes the data itself may be complicated to understand, it’s important for safety leaders to be acquainted with analytics in order to share valuable data and identify trends and patterns that can help organizations create safer work environments.

Transforming attitudes

Dissecting data for insights and new processes will not be successful if it doesn’t transform an organization’s attitude towards workplace safety.

Transforming attitudes and embracing data and analytics ultimately leads to a safer workplace when incidents are reported and positive changes are made to ensure workers are properly protected in any given area of a jobsite.

Using this type of data can help save the time of already resource-strapped health and safety managers and can even ensure workplace compliance to all necessary standards.

Equipped with specific data points and analytics, companies can begin to develop a culture that ensures accurate documentation, diagnosis and treatment of workers’ issues and concerns.

For example, if a worker’s left eye is injured, it is important to ensure that the recorded injury description accurately reflects all details as opposed to solely reporting an injury to the face.

The appropriate treatment should also be noted as the corrective actions could be very different to prevent future injuries to the eyes in comparison to injuries to the face.

Organizations should then work to create innovative steps to share easily understood and digestible information that instills key safety values in workplace culture. Furthermore, anticipating and addressing safety concerns can heighten trust in leadership when these types of cultural changes are implemented.

Integrating employee safety into your company’s vision ultimately comes down to one basic message that needs to be spread far and wide throughout any organization —  employee well-being and safety is essential to any successful operation.

Ian (Hyam) Nicacio is a plant manager with 3M’s Personal Safety Division in Brockville, Ont.


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