David Lemon

Journey to zero: A guideline to an injury-free workplace

August 24, 2023

As someone who has come from several manufacturing environments, in various industries, I’ve always viewed the ‘injury-free workplace’ as something that is a continuous journey with the right kind of controls in place. The key idea is that the most effective path involves foreseeing workplace injuries before they happen.

This is possible only if organizations do not consider achieving zero incident at the workplace as a number to reach. Instead, they should see it as an ongoing effort to identify incidents and leverage employee well-being. This means they need to firmly commit to making their safety performance better and be open to learning from mistakes and failures to keep improving safety methods.

Is it possible to create an injury-free workplace?

Most people in the EHS industry hear the term “injury-free workplace” and imagine one of two scenarios:

  1. An entirely automated system that doesn’t require people, designed to keep employees out of the picture.
  2. A workplace where detailed procedures tightly control everything.

The lagging indicators that most safety teams use are heavily biased, and qualitative in nature. Take companies’ Behavioral Based Safety Programs, for instance. It only records reported incidents, which are often subjective and incomplete. Surprisingly, this data still shapes company safety plans, funding decisions, and future strategies. How can an organization strategically plan and allocate necessary resources without the information needed to make the right decisions?

The implementation of conventional safety methods and practices have helped to mitigate these pitfalls, but they have their limits in advancing the industry. Standardizing work procedures, incentive programs, and risk management has taken us close to zero injuries, but we are seeing a plateau.

The industry is now looking at ways to engage by redeploying safety culture and behavioral programs. Instead, what if we shift our focus to obtaining leading indicator data that will equip an organization with the information needed to help prevent an injury, without compromising worker’s privacy?

To fully realize the notion of “injury free,” organizations need something novel. Something different. Something that can truly complete the journey and predict an injury before it occurs. The answer: Artificial Intelligence that can see the previously unseen.

Real-time leading safety indicators by AI

Safety teams often measure effectiveness by a competency test, but imagine you train your workforce with 100% passing ergonomic lifting training. If your dashboard shows that employees are using the correct lifting technique only 60% of the time the next week, would you see that safety training as effective? There needs to be more, and intenseye is exactly that. It’s that extra measure that humans can’t achieve alone.

As safety teams work towards achieving a zero-incident goal, it can inspire them to aim for the highest safety standards. However, it’s important not to evaluate the success of safety teams solely based on reaching this goal. Instead, the focus should be on creating psychological safety to identify potential risks and take corrective actions.

The zero-incident goal should center on ensuring the safety of all frontline team members every day. By embracing this path of continuous improvement in workplace safety, we can establish a healthier and safer work environment for everyone!

Following the pattern

Human beings like to believe that we are unpredictable in nature, but human behavior is more akin to following patterns. All injuries in the workplace have leading indicators that can highlight the likelihood of an injury. Current programs in place cannot fully track this data – human oversight has limitations in near-miss reporting and behavioral observation programs.

Intenseye’s AI model applies computer vision, in addition to what is already being done, to help see and track leading indicators that the human eye misses. You can see an incident in real time, but you cannot see patterns occurring with once-a-day reporting. When companies integrate Intenseye’s AI to their facilities, it then becomes possible to give safety teams access to 24/7 unbiased quantitative data to see what is previously unseen in reaching an injury-free workplace.