How to Tap the Value of Real-Time Risk & Safety Information in Digital Operations
Companies are slowly making progress in creating safer workplaces for their workers through digital transformation. But most note safety as their priority in their mission statements or ESG reports, and the adoption of safety solutions is still piecemeal and inconsistent. Technologies such as the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), Radio-frequency identification (RFID), and more are being used in silos versus integrating the safety information they collect and analyze with larger digital operations.
Companies that compromise on safety initiatives and fail to utilize safety data properly, could find themselves facing higher expenses and bigger problems in the long run. According to the National Safety Council, workplace injuries costs add up to approximately $161 billion annually in the U.S. alone.
To improve worker safety, companies must consider them within their digital operations. Safety and operations go hand-in-hand, and not just for cost savings. Safety information can help improve processes, productivity, quality, revenue, talent retention and attraction and more. And “real-time” safety data is the path to the future.
The first step is to identify tasks, functions or entire operating units need analysis. Many operations use technology to monitor and protect workers. For example, devices and software the send proximity detection alerts to workers anytime enter a hazardous site or if moving vehicles are too close. To prioritize the most critical operations, the company must pick those with the highest chances of injury, illness, or an area where an error in the process could lead to disastrous results. Real-time data and historical data collected from work sites help companies prioritize critical operations that need immediate attention.
Companies must identify any potential safety hazards present in their operations and processes. Many companies are moving in this direction already. Looking more at near misses and potential risks, beyond recordable or actual incedents. Companies can capture more extensive data in real-time using wearable devices to get a clear picture of the potential hazards, and implement solutions to correct them.
Many companies have already started implementing technologies like IIoT and RLTS to monitor worksites remotely. These solutions became more valuable during the pandemic when on-site work was limited, and team members were forced to remotely collaborate with and monitor on-site workers. However, companies must also evaluate the effectiveness of technologies for more broad, future needs and use cases. Are they using IIoT to trigger real-time alerts to workers? Are there lockouts/tagouts being used, or worked around, or are some unnecessary? Answers to these questions will help companies to improve their processes and implement state-of-the-art technologies with faster, greater ROI and acceptance.
In addition to protecting workers, connected technologies like IIoT are also useful in streamlining operations, boosting worker productivity, and increasing quality. True magic happens when complementary technologies come together to create the best of all worlds. For instance, analytics-driven predictive maintenance helps companies take pre-emptive measures to resolve issues before they turn dangerous for the workers and company. Augmented Reality (AR) saves time on training and helps workers get acclimatized to new safety processes and tools. Assess which technologies support the company’s mission, align with safety policies, gain support from both management and workers alike, and then integrate them with the existing operations and systems.
Potential hazards and risk audit outcomes is critical to safeguarding workers. Real-time alerts and historical data help companies identify trends and train workers to adhere to safety guidelines and processes. Companies must also build a security framework and monitor processes and work sites continuously to improve safety measures.
The lack of connected devices and poor utilization of real-time data endangers the lives of workers, hampers productivity and quality and creates brand risk – making it hard to bring in new workers, customers and investors, and keep those companies currently have. Companies operating in high-risk industries or with high-risk processes and tasks must take advantage of cutting-edge technologies that leverage the most current data to create a picture of real-time risk so they can reduce this risk.