Dr. Oliver Wirth, Dr. Timothy Ludwig, & Dr. Shawn Bergman: Applying Analytics to Behavioral Based Safety

Dr. Oliver Wirth delivering his Safety Culture presentation at the 2016 Safety Summit.

Dr. Oliver Wirth delivering his Safety Culture presentation at the 2016 Safety Summit.

During the 2016 Safety Summit, Dr. Oliver Wirth delivered a memorable presentation on the importance of Safety Culture. Since the Summit, the world-renown research scientist at the National Institute for Occupational Safety & Health (NIOSH) has teamed up with Summit Organizers Dr. Timothy Ludwig and Dr. Shawn Bergman to gain NIOSH funding for the application of big data and analytics to give safety professionals a powerful tool to reduce occupational injuries.

The great volume, variety, and complexity of organization safety data causes significant challenges for safety teams and organizational leaders, leading to the risk that much of the information is likely to remain hidden or unexamined. Thus analytics may provide organizations the tools to ensure that they are extracting the maximum amount of useful information from their data collection systems. Additionally, the results of analytics may also identify targets for potential interventions that ultimately prevent or reduce worker fatalities, injuries, or illnesses.

Safety Summit sponsor Eastman Chemicals of Kingsport, Tennessee has offered to participate in the future research by granting access to its safety and operational data. The international specialty chemical company employs approximately 15,000 individuals and is responsible for producing many of the fibers, advanced materials, specialty fluids and intermediates, adhesives and plasticizers, and additives and functional products used by millions of consumers every day. Their commitment to a culture of safety and sustainability has earned them much industry recognition, including the Responsible Care Award.

Summit researchers and industry partners will develop and conduct a comprehensive four-phase analysis plan to demonstrate the application of descriptive, diagnostic, predictive, and prescriptive analytics to analyze retrospectively both structured (numeric) and unstructured (text) data that these partner companies have recorded within the past 5-10 years. The hope is that their successful efforts would lead to the unique opportunity to help organizations use information and data through the creation of an analytics methodology specific to safety that will discover hidden data patterns. Discovering and analyzing these hidden data patterns is one way in which analytics can be used to design more effective safety interventions and share best practices throughout industries.

Want to get involved?  Dr. Wirth, Dr. Ludwig, and Dr. Bergman are looking for more industry partners with an interest in sharing organizational data containing multi-year, and sometimes daily, information on safety incidences, near misses, close calls, hazards, safety observations, safety climate surveys, safety audits, incident investigations, and other recorded metrics on organizational processes and their outcomes.

Contact: ludwigtd@appstate.edu or bergmans@appstate.edu

Timothy Ludwig