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

by Soft2share.com

Employers have a duty of care to ensure that employees are not at risk when at work, therefore if companies across the UK aren’t compliant with the health and safety legislations laid out by the British Government, substantial penalties are a risk to many. But just how are employers using technology to stay within the law and protect their team?

Projected Image, retailers of personalised gobo projectors, look at how businesses can implement advanced technology. This is in line with the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and investigate the correlation between the increased range of technology in the workplace and the reduced rate of incidents occurring.

The history of health and safety at work

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. A move that received huge backlash was when Barbara introduced an Employed Persons (Health and Safety) Bill in 1970. This is because 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. Castle’s aim was to be the one who got the conversation going on such a controversial topic. Lord Robens in the form of The Robens Report initiated an enquiry, which was published in 1972. 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). As the Conservatives gained power, the political party created their own bill which was also pushed back by the House of Lords.

Workplace over time

A huge focus for the British government and companies alike Is health and safety , there has been a decrease of 85% of fatal injuries to employees in the workplace since 1974. This portrays that technology has had some sort of influence on employee safety. 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. This highlights that over time, technology has had a huge impact on health and safety within the workplace.

The rate of self-reported musculoskeletal disorder has dropped by 40% since 1990 in manual focused jobs, 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.

It it’s seems we’ve only seen the tip of the iceberg in terms of technology’s capabilities within the workplace with further technological advancements expected. Who knows what’s round the corner, with technology advancing at such a rapid rate?

Workplace technology

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. Only 45% said that they would feel comfortable according to a poll conducted by YouGov,  sharing personal information with wearable devices.

To lighten the burden of health and safety at work, what technology do employers now use throughout their business?

Check-in monitoring

The StaySafe Business wristband can help with monitoring employees. This is because monitoring employees can sometimes take a lot of unnecessary time away from the business. An example of this is keeping track of who is and isn’t within the premises. This would be a necessity in the event of a fire drill occurring etc. But, 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.

Safety Signs

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

AI-SAFE

Cisco and Cortexia Vision Systems, two renowned technology companies, are making the move to improve workplace safety through artificial intelligence, funded by the UK Government. The aim of this experiment is to reduce risk and human error whilst encouraging productivity within a company. AI-SAFE will then restrict access to those who aren’t compliant and alert the correct authorities within the business. It 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. Headwear, eyewear and footwear will be used throughout the process, helping to combat the risk of contamination — which was once impossible to instantly detect.

Vehicles

Autonomous vehicles are the new go-to addition for any business looking to enhance safety regardless of if you have vehicles within your premises which help employees get from one area to another or have an entire fleet on the roads. Another bonus is that 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. This will stop vehicles from colliding in tight workspaces also.

Drones

Following a recent spike in popularity and cleverly, they’re becoming more essential to the workplace — helping to prioritise health and safety. They have also because increasingly popular when it comes to recreational photography or activities. Reducing the risk to employees, the drones are able to collect the required data and deliver it timely to the appropriate person. Using drones in the workplace have also allowed businesses to access dangerous areas, such as those that are too hot, cold or small for employee access.

3D Visuals

Businesses are 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 highlights that 3D visuals are no longer just being used in cinemas. 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.

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/

How technology is improving health and safety in 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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