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Helen Balmforth

Head of Data Analytics

Helen Balmforth

Dr Helen Balmforth is the Head of Data Analytics at HSE providing data analytical expertise across HSE, wider UK government and the private sector. Her role includes working with other government departments and industry to develop and provide data driven solutions. Helen also co-leads the Digitisation and Complexity Theme at the Thomas Ashton Institute. A research institute established between HSE and Manchester University.

Helen has over eighteen years' experience of developing and delivering analytical solutions for a range of health and safety issues. This includes the development of the National Population Database (NPD) and the related demographic analysis and impact modelling work, the development of the pilot Regulatory Intelligence Hub (RIH) to help target and prioritise interventions and the establishment and delivery of Discovering Safety which is a programme of work that uses data and analytics to improve health and safety performance.

Research Interests

  • Developing data driven approaches to improve regulatory interventions
  • Using health and safety data in new ways to improve performance; including the development of leading indicators of performance and predictors of increased risk
  • Understanding the impact on health and safety of the digitisation of the workplace including the transfer of risk and the emergence of new risks
  • Understanding how analytical techniques, such as text mining and knowledge graphs can be applied to create intelligence search and retrieve systems to extract new health and safety insight to bring to challenges
  • Understanding user requirements and developing research methodologies to deliver solutions

Current Projects

  • Discovering Safety: Programme Director for this Lloyds Register Foundation funded programme, which aims to improve health and safety performance on a global scale using data and analytical techniques to provide new insight and solutions.
  • Leading the development of the National Population Database (NPD), which began in 2010. The UK-wide NPD provides information on numbers and types of populations at different types of locations. This includes residential populations, populations in workplace, schools, hospitals and leisure locations, amongst others. The NPD has been widely used across teh private sector and by Government for scenario planning and emergency response and is included in the Resilience Direct system.
  • Leading the new Industrial Safetytech Regulatory Sandbox project funded by the Regulators Pioneer Fund (RPF) awarded by BEIS. This new project will explore whether new technologies can help improve compliance and regulation by bringing together industry and the tech sector with HSE as the regulator. The fully-developed world's first regulatory sandbox will enable the creation of solutions to safety and compliance challenges.

Previous Projects

  • Managing the impact modelling team who developed an impact library of data and the Hazard Impact Model (HIM). This has been used to deliver impact assessments for government departments for scenario planning, input to the National Risk Register, and to model and manage hazards such as surface water flooding events.
  • Establishing and developing the GIS capability within HSE. This has been used to understand the spatial distribution of risks from major hazards sites and pipelines and develop and deliver the Land Use Planning advice tool used by local authorities and the private sector.
  • Leading the Regulatory Intelligence programme of work at HSE. This looked to adopt a data driven approach to targeting regulatory interventions and developing tools, such as Find-It which is used by HSE and other regulators to plan, prioritise and target regulation. This also included the development of a pilot Regulatory Intelligence Hub (RIH).

Notable Achievements

  • Helen currently sits on the cross Government Data Leaders Network, and the Data Standard Authority Peer Review Group.
  • Previously part of the steering group for UK Government Natural Hazards Partnership and co-chair of the Hazard Impact Model working.

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