What steps should I follow to become a data-driven EHS professional?
Anyone who works in the EHS field can tell you that, at some point in their career, they have felt pressure to become more data-driven. Given that the EHS industry is driven by numbers and statistics, being able to efficiently and effectively navigate data to develop successful solutions is a valuable trait to have. Since we know big data and its correct evaluation and application can prevent accidents from happening, it makes sense that to succeed in the EHS industry you need to learn how to operate in a data-driven manner.
The following four steps provide a blueprint to help you acquire the necessary skills to become a data-driven EHS Professional.
Step 1: Define the Problem
A clearly defined problem is the key to success in developing data-driven solutions. It is important to first explore the problem from different angles so that your data search is more focused. Keying in on the right data will provide you the most effective and relevant solution and avoid wasting time wading through reams of data that don't pertain to the problem you are solving.
Step 2: Integrate and Analyze the Data
A focused search guided by your clearly defined problem will provide you with a wealth of data. The next step is to take these numbers and statistics and understand the story they are telling in relation to your problem. In practice, this means you are analyzing the data for observable relationships to your given problem. There may be several data sets or trends that have a relationship to your particular problem. Take note of all of them and think carefully about how they relate or potentially relate to the solutions you are seeking.
Step 3: Explore Your Solutions
In this step, you take the various stories, trends and relationships you've discovered in the data and further develop your ideas as to how these can be part of the solution to your problem. Be methodical in your collection and analysis of data but creative in your approach to solutions. Remember, brainstorming encourages innovation and being innovative is an advantageous trait in the EHS field. Think through the data sets and their relationship to the problem in a real-life context, as well as considering how different data variables might relate to one another in the development of your solution.
Step 4: Test Your Solution
It's important to test your theory in order to make sure you have interpreted the data correctly as it relates to your problem and developed a successful solution. Consider all the scenarios in which your proposed ideas to address the defined problem might be tested. Where possible, perform small tests of your ideas to see if they provide an effective solution. For example, if your data indicated that increasing the frequency of safety moments on-site could reduce the number of incidents in the workplace, you could double your weekly safety moments for one month and compare the results (see Why Safety Moments Matter to learn more). Conducting a test of your data-driven solution gives strength to your theory, proves that you've made an informed decision, and provides evidence you can present to your company to support rolling out your strategy in a wider capacity.
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