By Alexandra Serban
August 08, 2019
Businesses across all industries are increasingly adopting digital technologies across the entire value chain, to re-design processes and workflow systems. In construction, new technologies are being used for building information modelling, integrated delivery systems, remote operations, automatization and cloud-based big data projects.
This megatrend extends to occupational health and safety. Benefits of digitalization in this area include reduced costs, improved HSE practices, and better preparation for inadvertent changes.
Here are three site safety issues HSE leaders can positively influence with technology.
Problem 1 – Reactive safety
Digital transformation means all information is connected.
Unfortunately, 78% of safety professionals still use obsolete methods to manage safety tasks and activities, according to a 2016 NSC report. And consequently, only 19% get notified of safety hazards in real time.
Big data analytics in HSE can change that. By using EHS software for incident management, risk management, QA/QC, audits and inspections EHS systems can help businesses stay in line with regulations, reduce incident rates and thus, worker compensation or insurance fees.
Safety is no longer simply about how fast you can react, but how you can pre-empt incidents from occurring.
Becoming data-driven starts by equipping workers with new types of equipment and PPE. PPE manufacturers are embedding intelligent sensors in safety gear. RFID technology is embedded in tags and attached to personal protective equipment and assets to facilitate real-time insights on worker location or health condition.
Smart PPE is especially effective for real-time incident awareness and speedy evacuation in case of an emergency. But sensors can also identify risk patterns and predict hazards about to happen.
“Digitalization is transforming our industry through predictive analytics”, Mahmoud Sofrata, Regional Sales Director Middle East, Turkey and Africa said in a recent interview. A wealth of data is being generated from intelligent sensors, which, once collected and analyzed, can reveal risk patterns. Thus, we can predict and prevent an incident before it occurs, ensuring safer operations.
Problem 2 - Time-consuming pen and paper data collection
Did you know it costs an average of $122 to locate a misplaced document?
The more reason to go paperless and switch to a digital safety management solution. Recording inspections and the endless tasks performed on job sites generates a variety of data that would take days to be manually entered and processed. Courtesy of advances in cloud technologies and digitalization, a foreman can analyze the worksite, enter data in his mobile app, log in a web-based dashboard and securely and instantly see data insights on high-risk areas of the business.
Safety Suite by Honeywell is a cloud-based service that automates and streamlines the collection of critical safety data – PPE, training and worker compliance — so managers have the all the information they need to improve communication, and reduce cost and complexity.
Problem 3 – Costly equipment repair and maintenance
RFID tags also help track and manage inventory of PPE, making sure it’s being tested, repaired or replaced in due time, thus, reducing risk of equipment failure and non-compliance and its undesirable consequences.
Empowered by sensor data, managers can plan smarter when performing tasks such as equipment cleaning only on a need-to-need basis. By debottlenecking, namely analyzing the capacity and utilization time of each piece of equipment they can reduce unnecessary expenditure. The same processes can improve the performance of critical equipment across the site.
“When the worker goes in, he knows what this particular engine is going to look like, what the relevant parts are, which instruments he’s going to need and the procedures he has to follow.”
Refineries have understood the benefits of digital adoption, an Accenture survey reveals. Nearly half of the refineries surveyed consider themselves digital or semi-digital, by embracing AI and cloud technologies, creating new organizational models and C-level roles or converging IT/OT to facilitate collaboration. Benefits experienced include:
- More effective plant management
- Reduced operational risk
- More efficient predictive maintenance
80% of refiners reported that digital is adding up to $50 million in value to their business and 75% stated that they intend to spend more on digital over the next three to five years, the study says.
How are you using technology to empower your daily operations?