Two Strategies Help Prevent Workplace Disasters, Protect Employees with Smart Data

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According to government statistics by OSHA and the Labor Department, in the United States in calendar year 2019, more than 5,000 workers died on the job and almost 900,000 were injured. Improving information system management will help companies ensure critical data is readily available to help prevent such incidents from occurring, according to Kinsmen Group.

According to government statistics, in the United States in 2019, more than 5,000 workers died on the job and almost 900,000 were injured.

The best way to protect workers is to have vital information ready and available at their fingertips. Unfortunately, many companies still rely on outdated technology to store and manage their data, which poses real harm to employees in the event of an accident.”

Since January 2020, the U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board has opened ongoing investigations into seven separate incidences of explosions and fires involving companies who manufacture various products; in many cases, these accidents caused fatalities among plant workers.(1) The most recent case occurred in December 2020, when an explosion at a chemical facility in West Virginia killed one worker and injured two others.(2) This most recent disaster seems to be tied to missing information about certain chemicals that were present on-site—had this information been readily available to employees, the outcome could have been different. “The best way to protect workers is to have vital information ready and available at their fingertips,” says Brian Sallade, CEO and President of engineering and information management firm Kinsmen Group. “Unfortunately, many companies still rely on outdated technology to store and manage their data, which poses real harm to employees in the event of an accident.”

The fatal plant explosion in West Virginia highlights how federal laws, such as the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act, do not guarantee that workers will be knowledgeable about the chemicals used in the manufacturing process. While the exact causes of the fatal explosion are still under investigation, some news organizations report that emergency personnel did not have important information available about chemicals that were present in the fire after the explosion.(3) Had this information been available through the use of cloud-based computing technology, in combination with AI and Machine Learning the accident may not have occurred at all, and the fatality could have been avoided.

Current manufacturing certification processes do not require companies to digitize their data in one easily accessible location, leaving them to rely on antiquated dispersed systems to process, store, and retrieve essential information. Data may be stored among various computer systems or even paper files, making it hard to retrieve pertinent information quickly when it is needed. But collecting data into one, centralized data management system, and contextualizing data with the help of AI and Machine Learning, helps all employees of a company quickly and easily find the information they need.

Companies spend an average of $7,500 for each lost-time workplace injury, but the financial consequences of workplace accidents do not stop there. (4) Companies may have to replace damaged equipment, reconstruct facilities, pay worker’s compensation claims, or settle lawsuits. The National Safety Council estimates that work injury costs in 2018 topped $170 billion, with each fatality costing over $1 million in medical expenses, employer costs, and wage losses. (5) More important than the financial impact, the hardship this brings to families and morale on workers cannot be expressed in a number and should be avoided at all cost.

Digitizing company and process manufacturing data is essential to preventing accidents, two strategies can help employers do just that. First, companies may complete an Engineering Information Maturity Check to check the maturity of how the organization manages its data, systems, tools and organizational aspects. This helps companies identify areas for improvement and develop roadmaps to do so. Then, armed with a roadmap for improvement the “Best Documented Asset” (BDA) strategy helps owner-operators fill in the gaps between existing data management systems with a combination of state-of-the-art technologies and applications, processes, and tools to help integrate data company-wide. This approach ensures that the most recent data is available to the employee. With documents, data, and asset information integrated end to end, it ensures the “latest and greatest” is on file. The BDA approach helps companies document each and every asset to the highest standards possible, giving workers the tools they need to make important decisions that prevent disasters from occurring.

“Easily accessible information which can be found quickly is crucial for preventing manufacturing accidents. Kinsmen Group’s solutions can dramatically help manufacturers in almost all industries ensure the quality of their data, make it easily attainable, and help prevent future disasters,” Sallade says.

About Kinsmen Group
Kinsmen Group is an award-winning team of engineering information management specialists with a passion for applying innovation to prominent oil, gas, pharmaceutical, and utility companies. Their organization strives to deliver superior business results through excellence and pragmatism each time they partner with any business, revolutionizing each with wiser decision-making, risk reduction, safety improvement, and higher returns on their investments. Kinsmen Group is ranked as the "Best of the Best Professional Service Organizations" by Service Performance Insight Research and among the "Fastest-Growing Private Companies in America" by Inc. Magazine. To learn more, visit http://www.kinsmengroup.com.

Sources:
1.    “Investigations.” CSB, 2020, csb.gov/investigations/.
2.    U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board news release; “CSB Deploys to Belle, WV”; 09 DEC 2020; csb.gov/csb-deploys-to-belle-wv-/ | Accessed 20 JAN 2021
3.    Tony, Mike. “Fatal Belle Plant Explosion Shows Federal Law Doesn't Prevent Lack of Knowledge about New Chemicals at Facilities.” Mail, 17 Dec. 2020, wvgazettemail.com/news/energy_and_environment/fatal-belle-plant-explosion-shows-federal-law-doesnt-prevent-lack-of-knowledge-about-new-chemicals/article_8bea3055-4ade-5f2d-9432-9177eaa0910a.html.
4.    Geng, Tony. “The Hidden Costs of Lost-Time Injuries in the Workplace.” Superior Glove, 12 Oct. 2016, superiorglove.com/blog/the-high-cost-of-lost-time-injuries.
5.    “Work Injury Costs.” Injury Facts, 20 Feb. 2020, injuryfacts.nsc.org/work/costs/work-injury-costs

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