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Has technology had an impact on health and safety within the workplace?

Employers have a duty of care to ensure that their employees are not at risk at work and without doing so, are at risk of substantial penalties if they aren’t compliant with the legislations laid out by the British government. We’ve teamed up with Projected Image, retailers of personalised gobos for your projectors to take a look at how businesses can implement advanced technology in line with the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974. With this in mind, hopefully we can help you gain a better understanding of how in today’s modern age, employers are beginning to use technology to stay within the law and protect their team and investigate whether these additions have reduced risk of employee injury and fatalities in the workplace.

Advancements in workplace technology

We currently live in a modern age in which technology is constantly advancing, therefore it is no surprise that technology is shaping the future of workplace safety and introducing exciting wearable tech components and projected safety signs.

According to a poll conducted by YouGov, only 45% said that they would feel comfortable sharing personal information with wearable devices however whereas 69% said that they wouldn’t feel comfortable due to fear of discrimination from their employer. As the world conforms to growing digital opportunities, we would expect this figure to lower.

With this in mind, we’ve taken a look at what type of technology employers currently have available to lighten the burden of health and safety at work.

Safety Sign Projections

This is a current popular addition to any business, with employers attempting to keep costs down at the same time as keeping their employees safe. As a result of business downtime which can be spent on repainting caution lines and stop signs, businesses are now able to illuminate the required signs with minimal maintenance.

AI-SAFE

Cisco and Cortexia Vision Systems which are both renowned technology organisations are making the move to improve workplace safety through article intelligence. This move is funded by the UK government and aims to reduce the risk and human error whilst encouraging productivity within a company. The process of AI – SAFE, will use video cameras above the entrance and exits of operational areas and detect whether those entering and exciting are wearing the correct equipment. This covers areas such as headwear, eyewear and footwear and aims to reduce the risk of contamination. If employees aren’t compliant with regulations and aren’t wearing the correct equipment, they will be restricted as to which areas they can access and correct authorities within the business will be made aware.

Drones

Drones are becoming increasingly popular within todays modern age when it comes down to recreational photography and activities. They’re now becoming an essential in the workplace however, helping to prioritise health and safety by using drones to access dangerous areas in the business such as those that are too hot, cold or small for employee access. As a result of this, drones are able to collect the required data and deliver it to the appropriate person without risking employees safety.

Check-in Technology

The StaySafe Business wristband is a modern essential for any business. 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. Depending on company budget, this can also be available in the form of an app. This is soon to become a workplace necessity as 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.

3D Visualisations

Nowadays, businesses are also investing in software to provide greater insight to the employees whom are about to work in an area which has helped advance training methods across activities ahead of the actual task beginning. 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.

Autonomous Vehicles

Autonomous vehicles are the new go-to addition for any business looking to enhance safety if you have vehicles within your premises which help employees get from one area to another or have an entire fleet on the roads. 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.

Workplace injuries and fatalities

Although many new features / products have been introduced recently to increase workplace safety, one of the main questions to ask is, has technology really influenced workplace safety? The answer is, yes, over time it definitely has. 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.

Another factor to show how technology has influenced health and safety is by looking at the amount of self-reported, non-fatal injuries. It is reported that this type of incidents 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.

The rate of self-reported musculoskeletal disorder which is essentially damage to the skeleton, has dropped by 40% since 1990 in more manual focused jobs.

Around this time was when advancements in technology were growing — offering more convenient modes of working to help safeguard employees.

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

The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974

Serving as Secretary of State for Employment and Productivity under Harold Wilson’s Labour Government, It was Barbara Castle who first raised the issue of employee safety here in Britain by introducing the Employed Persons (Health and Safety) Bill in 1970. The move however 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. Luckily, Barbara kept the conversation going and refused to admit defeat of getting such an act put in place. 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).

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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