How can Technology Improve Workplace Health and Safety?
Seen by many as one of the safest countries to work in the world - the UK is lucky to have stringent workplace health and safety laws and regulations that every company is legally required to abide by, alongside harsh penalties for non-compliant businesses. With the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 (HSWA) at the centre of this, which ensures a safe working environment for employees in the UK, companies have a duty of care towards each and every person working in their building.
From physical signage to health and safety posters, employers have historically implemented various health and safety methods with the aim to create a more secure workplace for all. However, in recent decades, the rise of technology has meant that businesses are now finding more ways to help ensure that individuals stay and feel safe while they’re at work. In this blog, we’ll be discussing the various legislation-compliant technology options that you can start using for your business in order to help promote both the welfare and protection of your employees.
Why is Health and Safety Important in the Workplace?
Since the HSWA came into place, there has been a significant decrease in fatal injuries in the workplace. Recent figures from Statista have shown a significant reduction in workplace fatalities, down from 651 in 1974 (when the act was first introduced) to 123 in 2021/22. This highlights just how important this legislation has come to be in the modern working world.
However, despite being less frequent, and with advances in technology helping to provide more cost-efficient solutions for employers, injury related deaths at work aren’t completely unheard of. While additional statistics from the workplace welfare regulator for the UK, HSE, showed that 1.8 million workers in 2021/22 suffered from a work-related illness - with 477,000 suffering from a work-related musculoskeletal disorder.
Therefore, as leading suppliers of health and safety signage projection, Projected Image understands the importance of having suitable warnings in place at work, helping prevent injuries and fatalities from occurring. As a result, we strongly recommend implementing various technologies to help keep your workplace as safe as possible.
Health and Safety Technology
Over the past few decades, there’s no doubt that technology has changed the way businesses operate, and we’re only destined for further developments as this sector progresses. But for now - whether it’s implementing straightforward and easy to use technologies such as projected signage, or high-tech options like wearable technology, there are a number of ways in which health and safety technology can help to drive change and better protect employees from hazards in every workplace.
Whether you own a factory, construction site, warehouse or office block, it’s clear that safety is paramount, which is why we've listed a few options for technologies that you might want to consider implementing at your company.
1. Wearable & Check-In Safety Technology
Although wearable technologies may seem relatively uncommon, even if you don’t use these for safety, or at work, they are quickly becoming a significant part of the daily routine of many individuals. From smart watches to fitness trackers and headsets - you might find that wearable technology is an important part of your everyday life. But what about when it comes to health and safety in the workplace?
There are a growing number of wearable technologies becoming available that are helping to keep people safe in the workplace. For instance, helmets and vests with in-built sensors are becoming more common on construction sites to help better protect workers against falling debris and other hazardous changes to their surroundings. While an increasing number of businesses are using wristbands to monitor the safety of lone workers. With features including a discreet panic button for workers faced with a difficult situation, to alerts when falls and impacts are detected - depending on budget, this safety technology can also come in the form of an app.
2. Projected Health and Safety Signage
For businesses looking for a simple, affordable and reliable health and safety technology, portable gobo projectors provide solutions for indoor or outdoor workplace settings and are becoming a popular piece of equipment for a variety of working environments. Suitable for factories, warehouses, construction sites and more, this technology presents a more effective solution compared to physical or painted signage, which need to be replaced or repainted following frequent wear and tear. As a result, this can prove to be time consuming and less cost effective compared to a standard catalogue gobo or custom gobo, which only needs to be replaced once several years have gone by.
By purchasing a projector and gobo outlines, such as caution lines and stop signs, businesses can illuminate the required signs with minimal maintenance and business downtime required. With a whole host of additional advantages, including high picture quality, read more about the benefits of utilising projected health and safety signage in the workplace on our dedicated blog post.
3. Drone Technology
With multiple uses, drones are commonly used by photographers and videographers to capture landscape shots, by rescue teams to assist in search operations in the aftermath of natural disasters, to monitor the impact of climate change, or even to deliver supplies in hard to reach areas.
Aside from this, however, they can also be utilised as an essential piece of health and safety technology in certain working environments. For instance, they are sometimes used by employees at power plants to inspect dangerous areas that aren’t safe or are difficult for humans to access, such as those that are too hot, cold or small, which is often indicated by the appropriate signage.
Reducing the risk of injury to employees, the drones collect the relevant data from the area before delivering this to the appropriate person, team or department. With the ability to be used in a variety of different ways - there’s no wonder why drones are becoming a popular choice.
4. Artificial Intelligence
Previously limited to larger companies due to high costs, AI has received an increasing amount of funding in recent years. Back in 2017, the UK Government announced that they would put £75m towards funding for AI technology as part of a bid to support new businesses and encourage more PhD students to enter the science and technology field. As a result, more money being invested in AI has made this technology more accessible to smaller businesses. And the figures say it all - with the number of UK businesses using AI growing by 145% between 2010 and 2020 - some may even be currently using AI as a health and safety solution.
There are many ways AI can be used at work - but the most prominent of these include AI that can detect dangers in real-time - most of these are thermal cameras that can detect heat, allowing managers to monitor employees' temperature and provide them with the necessary PPE if required, or even those that can calculate hazards before they happen and suggest ways of resolving this. Not only this, but AI technology is frequently used in VR headsets through relevant training simulations - walking employees through how to safely operate machinery.
5. Driverless Vehicles
Whether your business has a fleet of vehicles on the roads or uses shuttle buses to transport employees from A to B - companies may already be considering the switch to using autonomous vehicles following the announcement in August 2022 that cars with self-driving features could be on the roads within the next year. Among other capabilities, driverless vehicles can detect which lane they need to be in and make changes to the route if needed - whether this is being blocked by an item or a crowd of people. As workspaces can sometimes be tight, self-driving vehicles may be particularly useful in warehouses and might help prevent collisions from occurring. In fact, 94% of UK car collisions occur as a result of human error.
However, there have been some safety concerns over this form of technology, with the Independent citing a 2022 New York Times article that said regulators discovered self-driving car systems were involved in 400 accidents since 2021 in locations where these already operate. As a result, these statistics could raise alarm bells for employers, making them question the safety and reliability of autonomous vehicles and instead rely on hiring drivers or using existing staff to operate vehicles to save on costs.
Workplace Health and Safety Signage from Projected Image
With recent advancements, there are now many health and safety technologies readily available for employers to use. However, if you find that AI systems or drone technology might be too cost-heavy for your business - why not invest in some projected safety signage? With a range of catalogue and custom gobos available, along with weatherproof projectors, you can choose the appropriate budget-friendly health and safety signage for your business from our collection.
Need help implementing projected safety signs in your business premises? Contact our team of experts today to find out more.