Workplace fatality rates increased in 2021 and the National Safety Council (NSC) has released a new report that is meant to help employers reverse that trend through advances in technology.
More than 5,000 workers died on the job in 2021, according to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, and NSC wants employers to address this problem by using data and artificial intelligence.
NSC’s Work to Zero initiative released its report on how to use data and artificial intelligence, Using Data and AI to Gain Insights into Your Safety Program, in an effort to help safety professionals work more efficiently thanks to some technological advancements.
‘Advancements make it easier to synthesize info’
This report evaluated findings from several academic and industrial journals to identify best practices for using AI technology to prevent workplace illnesses, injury and death.
“EHS professionals already manage large volumes of data on a daily basis, and advancements in analytics and artificial intelligence have made it easier to synthesize this information to improve existing risk mitigation activities,” NSC Director of Innovation Emily Whitcomb said.
The report “outlines new ways organizations of all sizes can leverage AI-powered analytics to advance their workplace’s unique safety culture and ultimately prevent injuries and save lives,” according to Whitcomb.
The 3 forms of helpful AI for safety pros
There are three forms of machine learning organizations can use to enhance the efficiency of traditional EHS processes, including:
- computer vision technology, which uses cameras and sensors combined with additional data to deliver automated alerts on incidents such as equipment malfunctions and vehicles collisions
- natural language processing, which rapidly summarizes written reports and extracts quantitative insights and could be used to enhance productivity and streamline safety reporting and compliance, and
- predictive and prescriptive analytics engines, which are designed to enable AI to learn causes and effects from historical data to predict incidents before they occur and produce recommendations on things like the most suitable PPE for a specific task.
Still some challenges to overcome in adopting AI
Despite the benefits this type of technology brings to the table, NSC also found there were some barriers to widespread adoption, including
- potentially high implementation costs
- privacy considerations, and
- distinct challenges for small businesses in using AI technology when compared to large companies.
The report notes that large companies are more likely to benefit from customized platforms that assist with widespread data collection, training and deployment, while small businesses should consider flexible, modular AI packages.