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AI Visual Analytics: A Promising Technology For Managing Safety Risks Of Frontline Workers

The largest portion of injuries experienced in the UK consists of slips, trips and falls. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) reports that, as a percentage of overall non-fatal injuries, these incidents increased from 18% to 31% between the periods of 2016-17 and 2017-18. EHS professionals are turning to personal protective equipment (PPE) to reduce such injuries and comply with regulatory standards. Our 2018 Global EHS Leaders Survey revealed that 35% of UK EHS decision-makers plan to increase their spend on PPE between 2018 and 2019 (see Verdantix Global EHS Leaders Survey 2018: Budgets, Priorities & Tech Preferences). This UK statistic compares to the 50% of 411 global respondents who had the same intentions. In the 2017 version of our Global EHS Leaders Survey, we discovered that more than one quarter (32%) of EHS spend was dedicated to PPE spending. Complementing the use of PPE, EHS technology vendors are paving the way towards workplace safety management through advanced data analytics.

Firms have taken different approaches to encouraging its workers to correctly utilize PPE—from more traditional ways, such as pinning up posters, to safety nudges that act as reminders to wear PPE correctly and even artificial intelligence (AI) for detecting PPE on workers. In partnership with Cisco, the vendor Cortexica offers an AI visual analytics technology called “AI Safe” that enables real-time video analysis with advanced algorithms and machine learning to ensure employees are wearing the correct PPE. The breadth of this tool’s applicability originates from its easy integration within any camera—from CCTV to mobile phones. AI Safe has two primary use cases: (i) access control and (ii) continuous monitoring. When it comes to the first scenario, this proof of concept is demonstrated in a number of Axis and Cisco Innovation Centres: once a worker’s PPE (high vis and helmet) is being worn correctly, then it allows worksite access. The second scenario enables managers to conduct firm-wide audits for understanding the PPE compliance risk status across different sites and triggering preventative actions

AI for managing the safety risks faced by frontline workers leads to truly impactful data analytics. Having acquired Humantech, VelocityEHS now enables frontline workers to take ownership of their own physical safety by uploading videos onto the software using a mobile app. The software then automates a full ergonomics assessment of the site through AI picking up specific pressure points and weights, for example. In foreseeing the opportunity to manage workplace safety through AI technology, the safety risk consultancy DuPont Sustainable Solutions (DSS) has established a global data analytics team to lead the application of machine learning throughout the firm. Verdantix predicts that AI will lead to vast new possibilities for reducing and preventing safety risks among frontline workers.

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