As more companies begin to recognise the benefits of data science, its applications are beginning to become the norm, rather than just nice ideas. Keara Dowd wrote for BizTech that data analytics are living up to the hype, and cited some robust statistics indicating a vast range of businesses looking into ways of applying data. Whether it’s to monitor online effectiveness, drive a marketing campaign, track employee performance, or even oversee finances, these businesses are learning that data can streamline processes and improve efficiency. As much as this is the case though, there are still some benefits of data analytics in modern business that we don’t discuss as often as we should. Most notable might be the potential for data to make working environments safer and healthier for the workers themselves.

That potential is incredibly significant for modern businesses, and it’s what we’ll discuss in this piece. From office safety, to logistics practices, to the general working environment, here are a few specific ways in which data can be applied to the all-important task of keeping workers healthy and happy.

Workplace Safety

While we don’t tend to think of the workplace as a dangerous setting in most cases, there are enough incidents that arise over time for safety to become a worthwhile consideration. There can be issues with equipment, employees acting unsafely, facilities left unprotected, and even poor practice regarding health and hygiene that amount to safety concerns for individual workers. And typically, it’s encouraged for those workers to file complaints or register discomfort in some official, on-the-record manner.

The problem is tracking those complaints in a productive way. The Digital Transformation People’s Matthew Gierc addressed workplace safety in these terms in an article back in 2018, and essentially pointed to data as the answer. Gierc pointed out that it’s difficult for a single person (say, an HR director) to read through what could be hundreds of relevant safety complaints in order to form meaningful conclusions. So, often enough, safety complaints go largely unaddressed, at least in any meaningful capacity.

Going digital and embracing data can solve this problem in two ways. First, it can result in more information over time simply by storing complaints (and potentially inviting more of them, if employees are more comfortable with a digitised system). Second, it makes it far easier to spot patterns that in turn can drive strategies for avoiding whatever prove to be the most common safety issues.

Security For Manufacturing & Shipping Employees

Shipping and logistics comprise a massive industry unto themselves, connected to countless companies around the world. And it’s these aspects of modern businesses that can sometimes lead to the most hazardous conditions for workers, whether out on the road or in warehouses. In these cases, the use of data is helping primarily by ensuring that equipment is kept in reliable condition.

Where shipping fleets are concerned, it isn’t just accidents that can lead to decreased worker safety. Drivers can also be put in compromising positions by various mechanical failures and mishaps. Holly Dempster wrote about roadside breakdowns for Verizon Connect UK and correctly highlighted tires, batteries, and mechanical faults as the underlying reasons for a lot of fleet issues. She then discussed preventative maintenance as a means of addressing the problems, essentially pointing to the idea of gathering and monitoring data about vehicle condition so as to predict would-be mechanical failure in advance. This is something more and more fleets are doing around the world, and it can significantly improve driver safety.

Similar practices can also carry the same benefits in manufacturing facilities and warehouses. Granted, each such facility is different, but often enough it’s faulty equipment that can cause a safety issue. Here as well, preventative maintenance via data analysis can be the best way to head off potential problems and keep workers safe. 

General Working Environment Wellness

Another aspect of workplace safety that’s generating more attention these days is the actual wellness of workers. This may not call to mind safety in the traditional sense of being free from harm, but it’s actually of vital importance. A poor working environment can lead to excess stress, poor performance, and a general decline in quality of life — certainly safety risks of their own kind.

In that regard, we would point to data simply for its ability to making things a little bit easier on the modern employee. We’ve discussed ‘How Data Will Improve Your Company’s Marketing Campaigns’ in a past piece, and this is a perfectly suitable example. The use of data analysis can provide invaluable information regarding a marketing campaign, which in turn helps relevant workers to do their jobs more effectively and efficiently. In this way, data can actually significantly improve workplace wellness, protecting employees from exhaustion, burnout, and other potentially harmful issues.

There are other ways that data science can be leveraged to improve safety in specific working environments. Naturally, a workplace with more potential hazards (say, a construction site or a scientific lab) may have more potential problems to address, and thus may be able to apply data in more pointed ways. Broadly speaking though, the points above speak to how increasingly ordinary applications of data can actually improve worker safety.