L2L: What Impact Are the Advances in Technology Having on Health & Safety Today?

Connectivity, artificial intelligence (AI), and the use of automation and drones to reduce employee exposure to hazards are pushing the practice of health and safety to new levels.

Connectivity, artificial intelligence and reducing worker exposures to hazardous situations and conditions are the hallmarks of the current wave of technology.

Connectivity, artificial intelligence (AI), and the use of automation and drones to reduce employee exposure to hazards are pushing the practice of health and safety to new levels, according to a group of safety leaders from five companies who discussed technology advancements and their impacts in this fifth video in our Leaders2Leaders series.

They agreed that the use of data mapping and AI to predict trends provides a unique opportunity to reduce and eliminate incidents before they occur. However, technology can offer what one health and safety leader referred to as “practical” applications as well.

Paul Darby, Global Head of Health and Safety at DHL Global Forwarding, said that what excites him most about using technology for health and safety are the ways it can be used daily to automate what once were manual procedures. Some examples he cited were: using drones to check roofs so they can eliminate the need for employees to work at height to do inspections; daily check input devices fitted on forklift trucks that will not allow the vehicle to be started until the checklist has been completed by employees; near miss reporting from mobile phones; and using sensors that can track incidents automatically and enter them into the database.

Be Quicker and Smarter in How You Use Technology like Artificial Intelligence

“If we want to attract the right people from the next generation, we need to be quicker and smarter in how we use technology,” said  Ratna Morjaria, Global ESH Director, Evonik. “We need to be able to listen to them when they talk about how to use technology better and be open to saying [to ourselves], ‘It’s not scary to use AI.’”

There are challenges with technology, the experts noted, most obvious is that fact that so much data now can be collected that it can be overwhelming so there is a need to manage the data stream to achieve desired outcomes or changes.

“Technology means a lot of information. People read less. That’s a big danger for health and safety, if you have a five-page procedure, chance are your people won’t read it ,” said Grazyna Momot, Group HSE Manager and MIS Lead, ABB. “Also, there is the perception that technology can control the risks – and it can help – but the person is the one who makes the decision.”

Morjaria agreed, adding, “We can’t lose sight of the human element. We’ve got to create a balance between the human part and technology.” 

At Lloyd’s Register, gas alarms activate when people enter combined spaces. When that occurs, the employees need to fill out a form. “The idea is to connect [employee actions to technology]. We’re not eliminating the human element, we’re saying ‘let’s make this easier for you,’” said James Pomeroy, HSE and Security Director, Lloyd’s Register.

New Video Series: Leaders2Leaders

This programme brings together some of the smartest, most forward-looking professionals in the industry to discuss the key issues facing health and safety today. Lessons from Leaders is a companion eBook that highlights health and safety: where we are and where we’re going.

Health and safety today is more complex and dynamic than ever. The world is experiencing significant changes in how, when and where work happens. Today, employees are just as likely to be contractors as they are to be permanent staff, and workers are placing greater emphasis on their wider mental and physical wellbeing.  

Watch the first five episodes and download the companion guide: Lessons from Leaders.

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This entry was posted in EHSQ, Health and Safety and tagged , , by Sandy Smith. Bookmark the permalink.

About Sandy Smith

Sandy Smith is the Global EHSQ Content Lead for Intelex Technologies. Formerly the Content Director for EHS Today, she has been writing about occupational safety and health and environmental issues since 1990. Her work as a journalist and editor has been recognized with national and international awards. She has been interviewed about occupational safety and health for national business publications, documentaries and television programs; has served as a panelist on roundtables; and has provided the keynote address for occupational safety and health conferences.

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