The safety of an organisation’s people is always of paramount importance. A number of industries place people in environments that carry risk in their everyday jobs. But the importance of data in the drive towards enhanced safety is often overlooked and many professionals can struggle understanding the relationship between data, safety and business performance. It might be difficult to get real engagement from all stakeholders, without a clear line of sight describing the relationship between data, data-driven safety planning and, therefore, data-driven performance enhancement.
A lack of engagement can happen for many reasons. For example, a business that is driving towards greater safety for their operators out on the front line will naturally place emphasis on the people who wear high visibility and protective equipment. But without clear line of sight and good engagement it can be easy for a team of data technicians and managers to not feel actively involved in a drive towards safety improvement, and to think “but I work in an office, at a computer – I’m not in danger at work, so I can’t really play a role in improving safety when I’m nowhere near the danger, can I?”
Operators out in the field can relate much more easily to safety improvement initiatives; they may handle dangerous equipment, or they may work near potentially dangerous assets and often in locations with significant risks (power cables, roads, high speed rail lines). Safety mitigation and risk assessment is a very real part of their job, every day. But is the organisation clear on the role of data in their operators’ safety-related decision making? Do operators recognise the key supporting role of their data colleagues to their own safety? In fact, in an organisation that captures/updates data whilst out in the field, the role of the field operative is crucial in the data/safety/performance relationship.
What drives a successful approach to data-driven safety and performance is an organisations’ leadership team leading a cultural focus on the right mind-set. By clearly laying out the line of sight between the quality and availability of information, the safety decisions informed by the data, and the knock-on effect to business performance, they can create a feeling of engagement from all parties towards their organisational goals. Leaders must make it clear that although office based data teams aren’t directly in the line of danger as part of their everyday job, they make a huge contribution towards safety. Better asset information is a key enabler to organisational safety and performance, therefore by putting better, up to date and accurate information about your organisations’ assets (and their condition) into the hands of data consumers on the frontline, in an effective and timely manner, you really are enabling better, data-driven safety decisions. An engaged data management team needs to assess their processes to support frontline operators;
- Are processes in place to ensure appropriate quality of asset information?
- Can accurate information be delivered to frontline colleagues in a timely and reliable manner?
- Are processes effective to ensure information is in the hands of those decision makers?
When the line of sight between data, safety and performance is clearly understood by all stakeholders, then an inevitable consequence of placing a focus on safety should be improved business performance. Everything you need to do in order to ensure everyone returns home safely from work every day also positively impacts organisational performance;
- What assets am I working on today?
- Do I understand enough about my assets to ensure I have the right equipment for this asset?
- Will my spares and tools be here at the right time to work effectively?
- What are my contingency plans, and what information am I basing these plans on – can I trust that data?
- What do I expect to be happening at the time of my planned work?
These are all data-driven decisions.
By clearly describing the relationship between data, safety and performance, organisational leaders will engage each stakeholder about their role in the business’ goals, so everyone feels they are making a valid contribution. In short, effective line of sight between data and safety will help drive up business performance.