We may not be aware of it, but in 2022, artificial intelligence (AI) guides many of our daily actions. It’s in the operating systems and apps on our phones and other digital devices. It’s in the software on our home computers and those solutions we use at work. It’s in the communications systems that we use, in our banking interactions, and even in our supermarket member’s club cards.
“Not only will it be in the fabric of the future of work, but it’s going to be in the fabric of solutions to the future of work as well,” said Jay Vietas, chief of the emerging technologies branch of the NIOSH Division of Science Integration, during a webinar hosted by NIOSH last year.
AI is the use of technology that attempts to replicate human decision-making, problem-solving and other abilities. It can be very basic, such as recommendations for online purchases based on previous purchases, or it can be complicated, overseeing the workflow of an entire process and making suggestions for next actions based on circumstances. It can even take some of those actions independently. AI may come in the form of machine learning technology, neural networks, computer vision, and natural language processing (i.e., speech recognition).
AI in Workplace Safety
There are already significant implications for AI in workplace safety: it can offer deeper insights, continuous observations, and real-time alerts to help employees avoid unsafe situations and organizations respond to incidents quicker, according to Safety and Health magazine’s Alan Ferguson.
“One safety-related example is the use of cameras that can detect whether workers are wearing their personal protective equipment,” wrote Ferguson. “Specifically, the devices can monitor employees who are working at height and need to be wearing harnesses.”
Not only can the cameras detect whether the workers are wearing their harnesses, but they also can identify if the PPE is tethered, Donavan Hornsby, corporate development and strategy officer with Benchmark Digital Partners and the Benchmark ESG digital platform, told Safety and Health magazine.
In other cases, AI-driven camera systems can track workers’ activities to monitor for safety risks, monitor equipment and workers’ interactions with the equipment, perform ergonomic assessments to assure that workers are using equipment in a way that won’t lead to repetitive motion injuries, and monitor employees’ presence inside (or outside) work areas. With devices built into work clothing in conjunction with cameras and sensors, AI-driven solutions can ensure that all safety rules are being followed and alert supervisors to small problems before they become large problems.
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