Defining and Overcoming Cultural Barriers to EHS Data Collection

Lowering the cultural barriers to EHS data collection is critical if you want your organizations to make data driven decisions to improve workplace safety.
Lowering the cultural barriers to EHS data collection is critical if you want your organizations to make data driven decisions to improve workplace safety.

Culture is a word that is commonly used at most companies and building a safety culture is often a focus of EHS professionals. However, a specific focus on lowering the cultural barriers to data collection can have a huge impact on the greater safety culture and help embed safety in everyday operations.

In a recent poll, we asked EHS professionals: What is your biggest barrier to collecting accurate EHS data? The clear winner was “cultural barriers to data entry” followed by “training of data collectors,” which received 39% and 30% of the vote respectively. Lowering the cultural barriers to data entry is critical if you want to collect quality, honest and timely data to make better data driven decisions. So, how can we lower the cultural barriers to data entry? In this article we will do a deep dive into four key elements every organization should incorporate into their data collection strategy to lower the cultural barriers to data entry.  

Step one in lowering the cultural barriers to data collection is establishing a mission and vision for your data collection and analytics journey. Too often, companies implement a data collection technology and expect that tool to act as a golden ticket to EHS success. (See the blog, “Do You Believe that Data Accuracy Is ‘the Golden Ticket’ To Risk Reduction?” for more information.)

When you rely on the golden ticket fallacy, you don’t provide your teams with the purpose and the vision for how this will transform the organization for the better. Providing the tool is a start, but providing the team with a mission—the purpose for focusing on data collection—and a vision (where you want to be) will help give structure to the effort. Instead of being viewed as random button clicking, employees will be able to see how their insight will help drive the company to a future improved state.

At the end of the day, you are relying on employees to take time out of their workday to give you an insight into the workings of daily operations. Without a mission and vision to help outline how their insights will be used to move the company down the road to improved safety in operations, you run the risk of data collection being viewed as another flavor of the month.

Lowering the cultural barriers to EHS data collection is critical if you want your organizations to make data driven decisions to improve workplace safety. Concentrating on building a culture that promotes data collection and data analysis will help promote an overarching safety culture. There are four key elements to lowering the cultural barriers to data collection: establish a mission and vision, know the roles, create the time, and ensure a virtuous cycle. Lowering the cultural barriers to data collection in your EHS programs will embed EHS in everyday operations and help us achieve our goal of eliminating death on the job by 2050.

You know what the first key element is, but what about next steps? For additional guidance on overcoming cultural barriers to data collection, read the entire ISHN article here.

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