Discovering Safety – Have your say in the future of health and safety
John Kersey looks at the Lloyd’s Register Foundation funded Discovering Safety Programme, a large and ambitious scientific endeavour being delivered by the Health and Safety Executive and key partners which is applying cutting edge data analytics on industry health and safety challenges to improve health and safety performance globally.
The Discovering Safety initiative is a collaboration between Lloyd’s Register Foundation, the Health and Safety Executive and Thomas Ashton Institute, using data analytics to improve the understanding of safety performance. You can also contribute to the work of the programme by completing a survey on new safety tech developments that will help the future work in this area.
Earlier in the year I looked forward to 5 emerging trends in safety technology. Two of these were the increasing adoption of enhanced analytics to support health and safety practice and the recognition on the part of regulators of the value that this can bring as evidenced by the Health and Safety Executive’s Discovering Safety Programme. I was very fortunate to recently visit the HSE Science Division in Buxton and meet Dr Helen Balmforth and her team working on the Discovering Safety Programme.
The Discovering Safety Programme provides an example of an increasing trend in many countries of commercial organisations, professional and trade bodies, technology companies, academic institutes and regulators, working together on initiatives and pooling ideas, technical capabilities and data to help solve shared challenges.
A bold objective
The primary objective of the programme is consistent with the Lloyd’s Register Foundation’s goal of establishing a Global Safety Evidence Database by 2021. Whilst the core delivery partners on the programme are UK-based, the aspirations of the programme are global in scale. Two key aspirations are to break through the plateaued work related fatality rates that are frequently observed in many developed countries, and deliver step change reductions in rates in emerging economies. The starting point in achieving these outcomes are six industry endorsed projects that are being delivered in the first phase of the programme, namely:
- Supporting of health and safety risk mitigation at the design stages of major construction projects;
- Learning from loss of containment events across the major hazards sector;
- Development of data tools to support health and safety performance benchmarking;
- Promoting greater use of lead indicator intelligence when measuring health and safety performance;
- Development of analytic tools enabling auto-extraction of learning from health and safety reports;
- Learning from product safety failures.
According to the team, the amount of useful information that the HSE holds in its information archive is huge, spread across half a million incident reports, around 150,000 inspectors reports and approximately 40,000 detailed investigation reports. The latter records are especially valuable as they are compiled by specially trained inspectors and investigators and they often provide the evidence used in court cases to support any subsequent prosecutions.
Alongside that 170 global stakeholders in 15 countries will extend the geographical scope of the programme beyond the UK. As an example of that representatives from Nigeria travelled to the UK to participate in a workshop on cement issues.
As well as the six core projects, a number of smaller feasibility studies are being undertaken in the first phase of work, both to test more novel, cutting edge analytic techniques, and to provide the foundations for larger projects in subsequent phase of the programme. These include individual projects:
- Developing tools to auto-harvest useful open source health and safety information off websites;
- Testing the viability of using machine learning tools to predict the likelihood of future accidents across workplaces;
- Exploring the opportunities and challenges for health and safety of the rise in use of Industry 4.0 technologies across many workplaces;
- Looking at the health and safety challenges surrounding cement manufacture, particularly prevalent across many emerging economies, and how best to mitigate associated risks;
- Reviewing the high risk occupation of deep sea diving and the underlying causes of serious accidents in this context;
- Studying the health and safety risks associated with working in confined spaces and how they can be better designed to make them safer.
You too can have a part to play
This is an ambitious programme that has the potential to radically impact how health and safety is practiced around the world. The programme team are keen for the work being undertaken to be shaped and informed as much as possible by the views and experiences of industry. In this way the potential for the programme to deliver significant impact and benefit is maximised. You too can have a part to play, for example by feeding in your views and experiences through the various surveys being undertaken. One survey currently being undertaken is exploring the opportunities and challenges for health and safety of the rise in use of Industry 4.0 technologies across workplaces.
The Discovering Safety Programme is interested in hearing from industry to find out about their current and future planned usage of different Industry 4.0 technologies across operations, how such initiatives are currently or could impact on health and safety practice and barriers to deployment. A link to the project’s short online survey is provided below and provides a quick and easy way to contribute to the programme and help shape the future development of solutions in this area.
The survey can be accessed by here.
More details on the survey and the Discovering Safety Programme more generally can be accessed here.
Disclaimer. The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of any commercial, academic or professional institution I am associated with. Mention of a specific product or service does not necessarily equal endorsement.
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