How artificial intelligence will set new standards in safety

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.
Thursday, 9 February, 2023 - 12:30
Industry news
National News

While artificial intelligence (AI) technologies are set to revolutionise industries, AI is still relatively new and most organisations are only just starting to become aware of its potential.

In assessing potential applications of AI, it is also important to understand the technology and how it could be applied for business benefit, said Kieran MacKenzie, founder of Presien, a Sydney-based AI company spun off from Laing O’Rourke.

“Why purchase now when a game-changer seems to arrive every year?” asked MacKenzie, adding that one of the biggest challenges (not unique to AI) is moving from an interesting technology demonstration or trial to broad adoption in an organisation.

“This chasm has been the death of many well-intentioned change projects,” said MacKenzie, who recently spoke as part of a recent webinar on artificial intelligence vision and its use in health and safety.

MacKenzie explained AI vision is just starting to see adoption in heavy industries, particularly in the safety and monitoring/inspection spaces.

“For example, our Blindsight system is a real-time AI safety system for mobile plant, such as loaders, excavators, and telehandlers,” he said.

“Blindsight stops accidents by immediately alerting the operator and people around to risk, and then automates reporting, including videos of every detection and generates lead safety metrics for the first time.”

In monitoring/inspection applications, he said drones or underwater vehicles are collecting video data that is generally post-processed on a server to identify any issues like damaged structural components and cracks and trees encroaching onto powerlines.

There are a number of important implications for OHS professionals with the adoption of AI, and MacKenzie said AI will create a new standard in safety.

“AI will move the industry from a manual, and generally paper-based, capture process of relatively few events, to an automated process that provides video, lead safety, and insights directly to safety professionals,” he said.

“This new standard has implications: what is the impact on organisations and individuals, such as work winning and remuneration, if automatically collected safety statistics are significantly different to currently reported numbers; who is responsible for reviewing all the data and taking action; how will safety processes have to change; [and] will there be any choice when insurance companies mandate the technology?”