The Health and Safety at Work Act came into force back in October 1974, long before the digital age took its hold. Over 45 years later, the Act is still in place, with good health and safety remaining a key priority for conscientious businesses. How businesses go about achieving good health and safety has, however, changed significantly. In the following examples, I take a look at some of the advantages which can be gained from adopting an innovative and technology driven approach to health and safety.
Companies are increasingly using Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) technology to train their staff in a real world environment without leaving the security of a training room.
This not only allows for more effective training but it can also improve memory retention as workers learn by doing. AR and VR training also allows workers to become familiar with job locations before they even set foot on site.
A good health and safety practice includes keeping thorough and accurate records as evidence of compliance. Some are going further and using this data for proactive risk management.
Artificial Intelligence (AI) technology can take large amounts of data and categorise it to identify trends and differences. By using records to identify trends and predict potential hazards before they become a risk; companies are able to take steps to protect their employees before the risks manifest.
When you think of PPE, the first images that spring to mind may be very low tech solutions such as high-vis vests and helmets but technology is changing PPE into much smarter tools.
Smart PPE is particularly useful for workers at a higher risk, either working in hazardous environments or working alone. Smart PPE in use today includes anti-dozing collars for drivers, wrist bands which monitor vital signals and environmental factors, and location badges which can send out alert calls in case of threat or injury.
Of course, PPE only works when it is used. AI Safe is a technology developed by Cisco and Cortexica with government funding. It uses video analysis above site entrances and exits to ensure that employees are in the correct PPE before they enter the site. Any non-compliant or missing equipment will then be flagged up, and access to the work environment will be restricted until the person in question is properly equipped.
Smartphones and Tablets
When an incident occurs at a workplace, it can be a highly stressful time. It can be difficult to have a clear view on how best to deal with the situation. An app, like the one Brodies has developed, gives businesses user-friendly, step by step guidance on how to respond to accidents in the workplace.
The app also holds a useful resource library on a range of health and safety topics, including articles, videos, and guides on statement taking and claims defensibility.
It wouldn’t be possible to talk about technological innovations and not mention blockchain. Blockchain is a secure digital ledger that can record transactions between parties in a verifiable way.
This can play a particularly useful role in the food industry where blockchain can allow a supply chain to be tracked from farm to plate. If there is a food related outbreak, blockchain allows the source to be identified quickly and the reach of the outbreak can be limited. Such technology is in use by major supermarkets in the USA, and the Food Standards Agency completed a pilot in 2018 with a view to preventing supply chain scandals, such as the horse meat scandal, from occurring again.