Reading Between The Lines: Leveraging AI Capabilities For Ergonomic Risk Assessments

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Reading Between The Lines: Leveraging AI Capabilities For Ergonomic Risk Assessments

In an age of proactive risk management, risk assessments are a valuable tool. They provide firms with a deep dive into understanding and mitigating potential threats to employee welfare. However, traditional risk assessments are not effective, as they fail to capture surrounding factors that can lead to poor judgement calls causing these errors. Instead, firms should analyse risk assessments as a series of several interconnected components including workers, processes, equipment, environment, safety culture and management strategies. Simply put: to anticipate potential incidents, organizations must consider their entire work facility.

To facilitate this process, firms are leaning towards a systems approach, which considers the whole working environment and its various connections. The human eye often fails to make these connections, so firms have instead turned towards AI. The rise of AI has been accompanied by a growing fear from safety professionals that it could replace their jobs or decrease connectivity among workers – but it should instead be seen as a tool to enhance a safety professional’s capabilities. Its presence across all sites can help the entire firm reach safety standards that would be difficult if they only relied on safety officers.

AI digests data collected into a clear roadmap of a firm’s safety landscape, highlighting areas that require further attention. With AI in tandem with risk assessments, organizations can gain a comprehensive understanding of their worksite, as well as draw on predictive insights and data-driven strategies to manage ergonomic risks. For example, industrial roles often require heavy lifting. Whilst the risks involved are not apparent at first sight, constant lifting with poor technique can cause back strains and injuries in the future. AI-enabled CCTV can be trained to pick up on these unique risks, relaying key information back to EHS managers.

AI enhances systems thinking by quickly capturing and evaluating work tasks. It then links these tasks with potential ergonomic risks, enabling workers to take corrective actions quickly. For example, AI draws on connections between tasks, tools and employees to pinpoint a worker’s source of pain when they are using a specific tool. These feedback loops highlight potential dangers across the worksite, strengthening the argument for tailored training modules that address these specific issues.

VelocityEHS is an example of an EHS software vendor that has leveraged AI and ML capabilities to conduct ergonomic risk assessments. Specifically, the VelocityEHS Industrial Ergonomics package combines motion capture AI assessment tools and ActiveEHS-driven risk controls, which help firms coordinate, track and manage musculoskeletal (MSD) risk assessments, analysis and controls across all roles and worksites in one centralized system. This standardized approach, leveraging predictive analytics, enables firms to assess ergonomic risk in depth, while maintaining best practices through consistency.

Advancements in AI will see more firms implement its capabilities into EHS work processes, identifying key trends and facilitating appropriate workflows where necessary. To read more about AI in EHS, visit the Verdantix EHS research portal here.

Zain Idris


Zain is an Analyst in the Verdantix EHS practice. His current research agenda focuses on total worker health and software vendor partnerships. Prior to this role, Zain completed an internship at Verdantix recording major mergers and acquisitions within each practice. Zain holds a BSc in Economics from the University of Warwick.