Risk Management, Workplace Safety, Occupational Safety—though it's known by many industry- and company-specific terms, safety at work is a top concern for all levels of a business. Workplace accidentscost businesses billions of dollars every year in medical bills, corrective actions, and retraining replacement workers. According to the United States Department of Labor, workers' compensation costsare now upwards of $1 billion per week.

Thankfully, workplace incidents are preventable and with the help of new safety technologies and streamlined reporting processes, we can ultimately reduce workplace risk and ensure the safety of our employees.

In this article, we’re going to discuss the importance of safety reporting within safety programs and what EHS professionals can do to improve their current reporting processes.

Safety Reporting Best Practices

Your safety plan doesn’t have to be elaborate—in fact, it’s probably best to keep it simple. Regardless of your company's size, these best practicesare likely to ease your safety reporting concerns and help your team at every level.

Create and Communicate a Safety Plan

Create a plan that includes contact points who are properly trained to follow your workplace accident process. Smaller businesses may identify a go-to person for all safety issues, while larger corporations may establish committees or teams to oversee the reporting and enforcement of safety in the workplace.

Communication is key in these situations. Your safety team should know where to find the contact information for employees and rescue agencies as well as all forms (including OSHA 300 forms) they may need.

Communication doesn’t end there. It's important that every employee at every level is also aware of who to contact if there is an accident.

Act Fast

Part of your safety team’s training should entail identifying areas of concern and securing hazardous areas after an accident has occurred. Response time is critical and can mean the difference between a near-miss and an injury.

Capture the Facts

It is important to gather as much information as possible about what happened. When in doubt, follow the OSHA 300 forms and add as much detail as possible. Thorough documentation, down to the smallest detail may be helpful.

Expand Your Tracking

Simply documenting accidents may not be enough. A near miss, according to the National Safety Council, “is an unplanned event that did not result in injury, illness, or damage—but had the potential to do so.” Tracking near miss incidents can help reveal risky practices before an accident occurs and allow for preventative measures to be implemented.

This proactive approach is gaining traction and seems to find more success in agencies where reporting of near misses remains anonymous or non-punitive.

Looking to the Future: Predictive Analytics and Safety Reporting

When an accident does happen, we naturally ask ourselves: could this accident have been prevented? And what measures can we take to prevent future incidents from occurring?

Reviewing details from an accident, especially those that resulted in serious injuries and damages, make it easy to point out what went wrong. But what if there were a way to prevent some of these accidents from occurring in the first place? This is where predictive analytics may offer some insight and an opportunity to limit the number of accidents in a workplace.

What Are Predictive Analytics?

Predictive analytics uses data mining, statistics, modeling, and machine learning to sift through past and current information in order to make educated determinations about future trends. In relation to workplace safety, predictive analysis is a proactive method of identifying potential problems before accidents occur.

Accurate Forecasting

Several companies have already employed predictive analytics software systems in their business processes. With accuracy rates over 60 percent and as high as 97 percent, these companies, including Fortune 150 and construction-based firms, have found that predictive analytics can help prevent injuries.

Changing Perspective

It may sound like an extra expenditure and even more reporting, but looking deeper, predictive analytics is simply using the data companies already have in a smarter, more sophisticated way. If a company is invested in collecting the necessary data and accurately reporting at every level of the agency, they can stop being reactive to accidents and injuries in the workplace and, instead, use predictive models to be proactive in establishing preventative measures.

As noted above, reporting near misses adds another dimension to the available data and can improve the accuracy of the results. Close calls that were narrowly avoided, whether because of experience or luck, can actually reveal flaws that could be corrected or improved upon to avoid future accidents.

Accurately reporting incidents should be about more than just compliance. With current predictive technology, safety leaders can act on any red flags exposed by data models and see serious improvements in workplace safety.

Moving Forward

Predictive analytics is a relatively new concept in the world of Occupational Health and Safety, but four years of real-world data has proven that there is money to be saved and, more importantly, room to improve worker safety. It's time for safety professionals to stop seeing it as a tool of the future and start considering how they can make it a part of their safety programs today.

To learn more about how you can use advanced analytics in your EHS program to predict and prevent risk, click here.