Beware legislative pitfalls in adopting Industry 4.0 technology

The following article is a news item provided for the benefit of the Workplace Health and Safety profession. Its content does not necessarily reflect the views of the Australian Institute of Health & Safety.
Friday, 6 December, 2019 - 16:30
Industry news
National News

Many employers are exploring how they can adopt Industry 4.0 technology for organisational benefit, however, they need to be aware of relevant legislation around the collection of employee data and how this data is utilised, according to technology transformation firm Velrada.

This legislation varies across borders and employee privacy needs to be considered throughout the journey from data collection through to visualisation and utilisation.

To utilise the new technologies, employees need to be involved and consulted in the business transformation journey on how the changes affect them and how their data is going to be used within the process, said Daniel Tamas, sales director at Velrada, which specialises in business and systems projects such as artificial intelligence in the workplace.

With the development of wearables, sensor data and cognitive data interconnecting with IoT, machine learning businesses also have the ability to monitor the wellbeing of their employees and proactively make their workspaces safer and healthier environments, said Tamas.

“For example, in the past businesses had manual processes to help manage staff when travelling in remote locations and/or working alone,” he said.

“The advancement of technologies now adds to these business processes to help keep employees safe by tracking machinery/vehicles operated by employees and wearable sensors to monitor employee’s wellbeing.”

Robotics and automation have also given businesses the ability to automate more repetitive, dangerous and heavy jobs away from employees and supply employees with the opportunity to grow their capabilities and skills in other areas that are more valuable to the organisation and its processes.

“For example, the mining industry is utilising remote-controlled trucks to give employees the ability to do this work closer to home to give them a better work/life balance (limiting fly-in/fly-out working) and hence moving them away from the dangers of a mine site as well,” he said.

Tamas is also seeing technologies such as the HoloLens improve training in a real-world situation.

If businesses are planning to utilise these technologies, he said OHS professionals need to be involved in the projects so they can provide input into the business case and quantify benefits to employees.  

“As solutions and business process evolves, AI models need to evolve to measure the effectiveness of the changes to health and safety of your employees,” said Tamas.

“With increased data coming in and more often, the business will have the ability to make faster decisions regarding their workplace, so managing change is key.”

OHS professionals also need the ability to be involved in the review of business processes and to be able to evaluate how data can help with driving better processes, said Tamas, who explained that their skills (or the combined OHS team) need to encompass:

  • Statistics knowledge to formulate large amounts of data,
  • Substantive business knowledge to interpret the statistics received to business relatable outputs, and
  • Understanding of machine learning technics to advise and input on the configuration and/or utilisation of AI models.


The current issue of OHS Professional includes a feature article on OHS disruption and how Industry 4.0 technologies are impacting organisations and their health and safety functions. For more information see the digital copy of OHS Professional’s November 2019 issue.