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Bringing Together Global Leaders In Property & People For A Safer, Smarter Future

2 - 4 December
ExCeL London

HOW AI TECHNOLOGY IS TRANSFORMING SAFETY AND COMPLIANCE IN THE WORKPLACE

By Graham Sharp, Managing Director, Stanley

Health and Safety legislation is one of the most important considerations around workplace compliance. Managers with responsibility for premises which encompass a range of different physical operations need to ensure that the health and safety (H&S) of its employees is at the heart of everything that they do.

Workplace injury is always a risk and according to the Health and Safety Executive, every year there are workplace accidents involving plant and industrial machinery, some of which unfortunately result in people losing their lives. Workers can be severely injured, crushed and killed by moving plant, vehicles and trailers. They can also be injured when getting on or off machinery, working at height, or when loading or unloading. Alongside this a 2023 survey conducted by the CIPD and Simplyhealth found that 51% of long term sickness absences in the UK are caused by musculoskeletal injuries MSDs (Musculoskeletal Disorders).

If you work in a sector where these sorts of injuries and accidents are more likely, then some of the newest technologies on offer can help reduce these numbers dramatically and help to improve workplace safety by collecting and tracking detailed employee data that focuses on where the biggest risks to workplace safety lie. Some of the best solutions out there at the moment include:

Anti-collision technology

When people and machines operate together in close proximity, the likelihood for workplace accidents inevitably rises. In the UK, between 2016-2019, 43% of forklift truck incidents involved impact with a third person and 65% of these involved pedestrians unconnected with the activities of the forklift. These figures from the UK Materials Handling Association, clearly show that danger is heightened when people work in an environment that contains mechanical vehicles such as forklift trucks, diggers and cranes. Technology such as the HaloGuard360 uses Artificial Intelligence to communicate with forklift drivers, plant and crane operators and other workers in the vicinity, while simultaneously measuring ergonomics and environmental factors.

Combined with Ultra Wide Band (UWB) and beacon technology, units are installed inside the industrial vehicle to provide an accurate location in real-time within centimetres. Units are also positioned throughout the warehouse or construction site to provide real-time alerts in high-risk areas such as blind spots or when a crane is operating overhead.

Workers on the floor receive haptic proximity alerts from their Modjoul SmartBelt wearable device alerting them to the presence of a forklift or other industrial vehicle. Simultaneously, drivers are alerted to a worker’s presence via a tablet-like display. The devices simultaneously collect data and measure ergonomic and positioning factors, ensuring that there is detailed data into potential near misses in specific zones.

Exoskeleton solutions

Wearable AI technology can also be used to feed back to managers about ergonomic activities in the workplace. This technology helps to ensure compliance around Health and Safety regulations, cut accident rates and ensure that productivity rates remain high.

Technology providers like WearHealth, match the right exoskeleton suit to the activity being performed with the aim of ensuring their usual daily tasks can be performed without the risk of a back injury. The process is straightforward. Video scanning technology is first used by a specialist safety consultant to assess a particular task. The worker is videoed performing a task, which is then processed by an algorithm to assess risk. An ergonomist reviews the data to take into consideration the weight carried, static movement and scheduled breaks. From this data a detailed report is written to make recommendations to the management team on the best exoskeleton suit to fit that task.

Once a suit is selected from the recommendations, the organisation can trial its effectiveness using sensors on the neck, leg, and heart. The activity is conducted without the suit to provide a benchmark and then the sensors are worn whilst wearing the exosuit to demonstrate the improvement comparison metrics. Once the right exoskeleton suit has been selected, it can be used to help keep workers safe when carrying out high impact repetitive activities. Granular reporting on bends, twists, stooping, crouching, reaching and carrying, can be processed in great detail to offer insights of a global workforce risk analysis.

Behaviour change technology

For jobs that require a lot of physical lifting and stretching in environments like warehousing and construction, it is mostly the new onboarded staff that are at most at risk of injury. In fact, wearable technology statistics show us that within the first two months of employment, there is a 70 per cent increased risk of injury and that one in eight of all workplace injuries happen on an employee’s first few weeks on the job.

Targeted use of wearable technology like the Modjoul SmartBelt device, emits haptic feedback when a risky movement is performed and this will start to change the behaviour of the worker. The Modjoul SmartBelt is able to generate feedback to management in real time, delivering analytic reports showing which activities are contributing to the potential occurrence of injuries.

This data allows managers to proactively intervene to minimise risks if dangerous patterns of movement are regularly occurring. Predictive analytics can also help optimise work schedules, make sure that workload is distributed evenly and moderate task assignments for particular workers to reduce the likelihood of injuries.

Return on investment

These AI solutions do come at a cost and the initial outlay needs to be justified by the business. However, evidence is already proving the value and returns of these solutions not only in the reduction of workplace accidents and injury, but also in ensuring that Health and Safety regulations are rigorously complied with. As well as this, products like the Modjoul SmartBelt have the capacity to be utilised in different ways. It can be worn by workers to improve bending, stretching and lifting technique and also to assist with collision avoidance on the warehouse floor.

The granular data generated by the devices allows employers for the first time, to focus on providing more comprehensive targeted training based on risk analysis. The data can then be tracked post-training to ensure that employees act on the training they have had on risk avoidance or manual handling. Where issues are identified, wearable technology can be used to help to reinforce correct movement and avoid potential injury.

Introducing new technology can be daunting, but there are industry-leading companies to provide support and guidance every step of the way.

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About Anticipate London 2024

In February 2024 the world’s largest exhibition organiser, Informa PLC, announced that the co-located exhibitions of Facilities Show, FIREX, IFSEC and Safety & Health Expo will now become part of newly launched Anticipate London, taking place from the 2nd to the 4th December 2024 at ExCeL London

Anticipate London will bring leaders of property & people together and showcase solutions that create a safer, smarter future for all. More information at www.anticipate-event.com