In recent years, the rapid advancement of technology has forced us to rethink the ways in which we live and work. The emergence of Artificial Intelligence (AI), The Internet of Things (IoT), Machine Learning (ML) and Virtual Reality (VR), have meant that we now have more tools than ever at our disposal to aid with elements that were previously thought to be only capable by humans. In the industry of health and safety, where efficiency and compliance make up the groundwork of its importance in the workplace, the benefits of such technologies could revolutionise the way we identify, assess and mitigate risks and hazards to health.
Two new reports by the European Agency for Safety and Health at Work (EU-OSHA) have been released, that have aimed to take an in-depth look at the uses, challenges, and resources for the implementation and design of smart digital monitoring systems. The conclusions of “Smart digital monitoring systems for occupationalsafetyandhealth:usesandchallenges”offerinsight into how these new systems could redefine occupational safety, and identify areas where the human element is yet to be superseded.
Conclusions: How can workplace resources ensure the safe and healthy use of OSH monitoring systems?
The review highlighted several issues going beyond workplace resources and key factors in determining the effective integration of new systems:
- Firstly, new OSH monitoring systems are part of the solution to health and safety at work, but not the solution itself. Well-established OSH frameworks are characterised by the presence of OSH professionals on site alongside workers and clear steering from the OSH leadership through company-level policies, a well-defined OSH management system, direct communication with workers, and a combination of accessible and relatable resources; the more established safety culture is in a company, the more likely it is that new systems will be integrated successfully, preventing workplace resources from being disregarded.
- Involving workers in the selection, testing and implementation of new OSH monitoring systems represents another key factor by tailoring of communication within resources and activities to each stakeholder to guarantee that the OSH monitoring systems are implemented coherently, which can be achieved by improving workplace resources through consultation with workers.
- Finally, fostering knowledge exchange should not only be done within companies and sectors through, for instance, regular team meetings among workers and between workers and OSH professionals/team leaders, but also across companies and sectors through knowledge-sharing activities. Workplace resources are critical to ensure the safe and healthy use of new OSH monitoring systems and have the potential to empower workers and companies while increasing their wellbeing and counteracting the negative aspects of work demands, which, in turn, prevent employee frustration, inefficiency and loss of profit.
For more information, and the full report, visit https://osha.europa.eu/en/highlights/can-digital-monitoring-systems-redefine-workers-safety-and-health