Workplace technology – How has it impacted health and safety?

Employers have a duty of care to ensure that employees are not at risk when at work in businesses and organisations across Britain —so how are employers using technology to stay within the law and protect their team?

Substantial penalties are charged if businesses aren’t compliant with such legislations. Projected Image, retailers of gobo holders, take a look at how businesses can implement advanced technology in line with the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and investigate whether these additions have reduced risk of employee injury and fatalities in the workplace.

The advancements of workplace technology

According to a poll conducted by YouGov, only 45% said that they would feel comfortable sharing personal information with wearable devices. 69% said that they wouldn’t feel comfortable due to fear of discrimination from their employer — we expect that this figure to lower as the world conforms to growing digital opportunities. However, with technology advancing at a rapid rate, technology is helping shape the future of workplace safety — from wearable tech to projected safety signs.

So what kind of technology do employers currently have available now to lighten the burden of health and safety at work?

Check-in Technology

Monitoring employees can sometimes take a lot of unnecessary time away from the business, for example — keeping track of who is and isn’t within the premises for potential fire drills. But, the StaySafe Business wristband can do it all for you. It includes many features such as a discreet panic button for workers who are faced with a difficult situation, a ‘man down’ alert when the button detects a fall or impact and more. However, this can also come in the form of an app depending on company budget — and is likely to become a workplace necessity in the near future.

Projected Safety Signs

More businesses are turning to projected safety signs in an attempt to keep costs down. Repainting caution lines and other safety essentials can be expensive — and result in business downtime in the process. By purchasing a projector and as gobo outlines, such as caution lines and stop signs, businesses are able to illuminate the required signs with minimal maintenance.

Drones

Drones have recently spiked in popularity, particularly when it comes to recreational photography or activities. Cleverly, they’re becoming more essential to the workplace — helping to prioritise health and safety. Using drones in the workplace has allowed businesses to access dangerous areas, such as those that are too hot, cold or small for employee access. Reducing the risk to employees, the drones are able to collect the required data and deliver it timely to the appropriate person.

3D Visualisations

Not only are 3D visualisations used in cinemas, businesses are also investing in such software to help provide greater insight to the employees whom are about to work in that area which has helped advance training methods across all industries ahead of the actual task. This allows workers to become more familiar with the area they are about to work in — allowing them to see what’s involved and make effective judgements on how to complete the job in the safest way possible. This helps reduce the likeness of injuries as workers are already aware of the scenario and know what to expect.

AI-SAFE

Renowned technology organisations Cisco and Cortexia Vision Systems are making the move to improve workplace safety through artificial intelligence, funded by the UK Government. With aims to reduce risk and human error whilst encouraging productivity within a company, AI-SAFE will ultimately use video cameras above the entrances and exits of different operational areas and detect whether those entering/exiting are wearing the right equipment. This includes headwear, eyewear and footwear, helping to reduce the risk of contamination — which was once impossible to instantly detect. AI-SAFE will then restrict access to those who aren’t compliant and alert the correct authorities within the business.

Autonomous Vehicles

Whether you have vehicles within your premises which help employees get from one area to another or have an entire fleet on the roads, autonomous vehicles are the new go-to addition for any business looking to enhance safety. Essentially, this driverless vehicle will be able to detect its lane and make appropriate changes to the route if needed — whether this is being blocked by an item or crowd of people. As sometimes workspaces can be tight, this vehicle will stop collisions from occurring.

With further technological advancement expected around the world, it seems we’ve only seen the tip of the iceberg in terms of technology’s capabilities within the workplace.

How did such an act get put in place?

Barbra Castle was the one who got the conversation going. She first raised the issue of employee safety here in Britain. Serving as Secretary of State for Employment and Productivity under Harold Wilson’s Labour Government, Barbara introduced an Employed Persons (Health and Safety) Bill in 1970. The move received backlash as many feared that it did not discuss the fundamental issues of workplace safety and therefore was not passed.

Within the same year, the United States passed a similar law called the Occupational Safety and Health Act, which changed the way health and safety in the workplace was viewed across the pond. This initiated an inquiry by Lord Robens in the form of The Robens Report, which was published in 1972. As the Conservatives gained power, the political party created their own bill which was also pushed back by the House of Lords.

When Labour returned to administrate Britain in 1974, they succeeded in passing a health and safety bill that year —  known as the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 (HSWA).

Have any fatalities occurred over time?

One of the main questions asked is: has technology really influenced workplace safety? Over time, it has.

Predominantly occurring in more manual focused jobs, the rate of self-reported musculoskeletal disorder has dropped by 40% since 1990, which is essentially damage to the skeleton. Around this time was when advancements in technology were growing — offering more convenient modes of working to help safeguard employees.

Self-reported, non-fatal injuries have halved since 2000, showing a consistent rate in recent years. When looking at the rate of employers who reported non-fatal injuries, the figure was down by 58% since 1986/87.

With health and safety being a huge focus for the British government and companies alike, there has been a decrease of 85% of fatal injuries to employees in the workplace since 1974 — which evidently shows that technology has had some sort of influence on employee safety.

 

Sources:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Health_and_Safety_at_Work_etc._Act_1974#Background

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alfred_Robens,_Baron_Robens_of_Woldingham

http://www.hse.gov.uk/aboutus/40/robens-report.htm

http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1974/37/section/2

http://www.hse.gov.uk/legislation/hswa.htm

http://www.hse.gov.uk/statistics/history/index.htm

https://www.staysafeapp.com/

https://www.talk-business.co.uk/2017/05/16/technology-improving-health-safety-manufacturing/

https://www.shponline.co.uk/new-ai-project-tackle-workplace-safety-risks/

https://medium.com/@cacheop/advanced-lane-detection-for-autonomous-cars-bff5390a360f

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