SIRF Roundtables Blog

What is Data Analytics?


What is Data Analytics? What is its value to Operations? How can it help your employees Health & Safety?

"Data analysis is a process of inspecting, cleansing, transforming and modelling data with the goal of discovering useful information, informing conclusion and supporting decision-making" – Wikipedia.

Data analytics is the science of analysing raw data in order to make conclusions about that information.

In the modern internet connected world, the volume of data generated is increasing at exponential rates. It can even seem at times that Artificial Intelligence and its associated analytical algorithms can know us and our preferences better than we even know ourselves. When looking at either books on Amazon or films on Netflix , we often get recommended alternate selections – “People who bought this – also bought this” – that are often books or films that I would routinely think  “Yes , I would like to read or see that”

Companies are recognising and acting on the belief that Data is a business asset that could be mined to unlock critical business insights. It can assist companies to go to market faster – To increase revenues and/or reduce costs. The most advanced companies know that to compete in the 21st century they must have a data strategy and data leadership.

How can all of this really benefit operations and manufacturing?

Predictive analytics is a form or data analytics that looks at existing data , builds and test models for the future that are then used to forecast future outcomes. Successfully done, it can highlight and also prevent future problems before they even happen. Predictive analytics is increasing used for equipment condition monitoring and fault prevention. They can detect subtle changes in equipment condition, make assessments on the likelihood of failure and enable preventative or corrective maintenance to be performed in a planned manner – significantly reducing maintenance costs and operations and supply chain disruptions. Predictive analytics can be used to forecast demand ahead of time and successfully manage production, resources and inventory to match.

Computer assisted vision detection is often used as a modern quality control tool – to automatically identify and classify features that may be defects, compare products to standard or look for trends from previously produced material.

What then are the trends in the application of new technologies and data analytics to improving employees health and safety?

EHS professionals have long recognised both the importance but also the limitations of merely focusing on incidents. These lagging indicators can only be responded to re actively after the incident has occurred. Trends can be used to assess whether systems and conditions are improving and the ability to manage the factors that caused the incident may prevent future recurrence. However, existing other health and safety risks need other approaches to prevent them leading to incidents in the future. Advanced organisations started to use hazard-level digital controls, ranging from analytics-supported administrative controls, to in-field digital engineering controls. Some  case study examples of these are :


  • Hearables
    In the multicultural workplace where English may be the 2nd or 3rd language spoken , it is important to clearly communicate relevant safety information in ideally the mother tongue. New devices allow for near instant translation of relevant safety information to be achieved
  • Manual Handling
    Soter Analytics manual handling sensors using accelerometers to allow predictive analytics to detect ‘at risk’ body postures and provide personalised coaching BEFORE an injury occurs


  • Biometric Modelling
    In transport and logistics , sensors and fatigue science are used to provide alarms for truck drivers for longer than desirable time of eyes off the road or excessive blinking.


  • Drones
    Hard to access safety inspections, emergency response , water safety


  • Virtual Reality / Augmented Reality
    Safety training , New plant risk assessment

Successful application of these technologies requires:

  1. Reliable technology that works
  2. Subject Matter Expertise
  3. People Centred Approach for the end user

As with any Change initiative the end user people considerations are always vital. These techniques have significant potential to improve workplace EHS.

If you would like more information on how to understand and apply modern technologies to improve EHS, please join  SIRF’s  Work Health & Safety 4.0 Training 1 day Course – by  Andrew Heinrichs – Feb 27th at the Mantra on Southbank – details in the attached link:


Brian Niven





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