Workplace Safety: Shifting from Recordable to Preventable

Workplace Safety: Shifting from Recordable to Preventable

OSHA’s recent rule to modernize injury data collection is a great step towards helping businesses become more proactive in reducing workplace illness and injury. It opens up the data to public scrutiny, and will push some organizations into doing better because of it.

But it’s not enough. We all know the best way to improve safety is to have a knowledgeable workforce who can operate equipment safely, work with hazardous materials properly and knows what to do if something happens on the job. Most companies just record incidents and carry out safety training, but don’t really know why safety incidents happen, or how to decrease the numbers. What’s missing is the link between whether employees really know what they should do, and whether they can translate their knowledge into job actions that improve safety.

What if, instead of analyzing an injury after it happened, you could see a trend towards imminent injury or illness and prevent it? What if you could:

  • Define what employees need to know, and what employees need to do to create a much safer workplace.
  • Continuously evaluate what employees know and observe and document what actions they take on the job (their “behaviors”), which influence their performance.
  • Constantly compare current knowledge and behaviors against targets at an individual, group, or regional level, to uncover trends that point towards imminent issues.
  • Understand which employees need to improve their behaviors to achieve safety targets, and whether they also need more knowledge to accomplish that.
  • Quickly and easily modify training programs to ensure employees get the right information for safety.

If you had this kind of information at your fingertips, you could become proactive at preventing workplace injury and illness, instead of simply reporting it after the fact.

A Proactive Approach to Learning and Performance

Today’s learning technologies have come a long way from the traditional classroom training or even Learning Management Systems (LMS). They give you the ability to track learning results as well as employee behavior on the job. They also allow you to compare knowledge and behavior against targets you’ve set that, when achieved, will reduce safety issues.

With metrics like these, you can identify where workers need to modify their behaviors, and whether that can be done through additional training or if a combination of training and coaching is required.

You also can scale this data to get a better picture at a group, regional or even organizational level. And when you link these knowledge and behavior metrics with safety incident data, you have everything you need to analyze why incidents happen, uncover new trends and proactively prevent future incidents.

Walmart and Bloomingdale’s are two organizations that recognized that improving employee knowledge would help them reduce safety incidents. To do that, they implemented a learning solution that identifies what employees know or don’t know about safe work practices, highlights gaps between training and what employees do on the job and then provides additional training to fill those gaps. Using data from their learning solution, they also proactively can identify safety risks and respond quickly before injuries occur, significantly reducing OSHA recordables.

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EHS Today is an IndustryWeek companion site within Penton's Manufacturing & Supply Chain Group.


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