Rising concerns about workplace safety are being driven by factors such as increased work demands, inadequate employee support, and the introduction of new technologies. Business leaders are increasingly worried that workplace safety will become more challenging to maintain due to shifts in employee mental health and talent retention, with over one-third of them sharing this view.
To address these challenges, many companies are resorting to artificial intelligence (AI) and automation. By utilizing the right blend of automation and AI, workplaces can enhance safety by minimizing human error, offering early detection of potential hazards, and enhancing operational efficiency. Furthermore, this can help combat the increasing stress levels experienced by employees
Enhancing Worker Safety with Artificial Intelligence
The construction industry has incorporated automation and AI into their day-to-day operations. These technologies are used by construction companies of various sizes to estimate costs, forecast maintenance schedules, enhance safety monitoring, and track the construction process. By utilizing this technology, employees are kept away from perilous tasks, can avoid exhaustion, and benefit from automated hazard detection.
Automation of Hazardous Tasks
In perilous work settings, such as construction sites, automation can take on tasks that could put workers at risk. Automating such hazardous tasks can help to prevent workers from being exposed to dangerous situations, thereby reducing overall risks.
Construction managers have several options for automating dangerous tasks. For instance, some managers use technology to automate repetitive duties, such as painting or bricklaying. Others utilize drone technology to inspect construction sites without needing to physically traverse potentially unsafe environments.
Preventing Work Overload
In any profession, overworking and fatigue can pose serious risks. In construction, they can lead to bodily harm, endanger others, or damage the structures being built.
To address these challenges, some construction sites have implemented technology to help combat the effects of overwork and fatigue. For instance, wearable devices that monitor vital signs like heart rate, skin temperature, and physical activity can be provided to employees. These devices assist managers in detecting signs of potential fatigue, removing workers from hazardous situations before they become a hazard.
Other technologies, such as time-tracking programs, can help project leaders monitor worker activity and increase accountability and productivity. With AI-powered time-tracking software, managers can ensure that workers are focused on the most relevant tasks.
Detection of hazards
Computer vision technology can automatically monitor a video feed to detect potential hazards. These programs are trained to monitor the live feed of a single camera or camera network, identifying risks and notifying project leaders before those risks worsen. The same programs can often monitor pre-recorded video sessions, for training purposes.
Hazard detection programs help protect against a variety of different threats. These risks can include unsafe working conditions like exposed chemicals, workers without protective clothing, and other compliance issues. Computer vision can also spot misuse of tools and equipment, trip and fall hazards, unattended vehicles, and equipment out of place.
Surveillance for Security
Security systems in a construction workplace can also benefit from automation and AI integration. The same AI can also offer facial recognition and motion detection technologies, helping security surveillance programs identify unauthorized personnel or workers that enter a restricted area.
Some automation programs improve the analytical side of security surveillance. For example, video compression AI helps optimize video compression, reducing the amount of data that’s stored and transmitted from one device to the next. This compression improves video feed quality and can accelerate data transfer speeds.
Training for safety
Integration of virtual reality (VR) or augmented reality (AR) with AI has become a common practice to enhance the quality of safety training programs. By using these technologies, construction companies can improve various aspects of their safety programs, such as emergency response training and hazardous waste removal.
The combination of AI, VR, and AR provides multiple advantages to safety training for construction workers. These technologies enable workers to receive hands-on training in a virtual environment, avoiding the risks of hazardous construction sites.
AI technology is a valuable asset in the construction planning process, as it enables workers to make precise calculations and prevent errors. The use of predictive analytics helps accelerate various pre-construction stages, including materials inventory, measurements, safety planning and training, and risk assessment.
One significant advantage of AI is situational prediction, which enables automated prediction programs to minimize calculation errors that could have led to potential risks during the building process. These tools also enable workers to communicate better by collectively contributing to measurements, material estimates, and cost forecasts during the construction takeoff process.
By predicting costs, timelines, and other project details, AI helps eliminate risks and saves time in the workplace. With the potential for accidents significantly reduced, workers can confidently and quickly complete their tasks with the support of data-driven insights.
Obstacles to Integrating Artificial Intelligence in the Workplace
The integration of artificial intelligence can pose various challenges, especially if the technology is improperly used. Some potential challenges that AI and automation could encounter in the workplace include:
- Resistance from employees, particularly those who fear that AI might replace their jobs;
- Challenges related to programming AI or addressing technical problems;
- An overreliance on technology that could ultimately reduce workplace productivity and decision-making abilities;
- Security risks associated with AI and automation accessing sensitive information;
- Biases or discriminatory behavior in AI based on the data that the program was trained on;
- The high costs of implementing or using automation programs.
Construction companies are taking measures to overcome concerns related to AI and automation, despite initial hesitations. They are providing training for employees who may be unfamiliar with AI and recognizing the productivity benefits that AI can bring. In addition, automation platforms are being developed with a focus on diversity to avoid any possibility of bias when deployed.
The Outlook of AI for Workplace Safety
The modern construction workplace is already witnessing significant improvements through AI and automation. These technologies are transforming the work environment into smarter and safer spaces where employees can focus on high-level decision-making instead of repetitive tasks. With AI, construction teams can accurately estimate costs, take precise measurements, and minimize potential health and safety risks.
As technology continues to advance, construction sites will become even safer and more secure. For instance, autonomous construction equipment can significantly reduce the risk of human error and injury. Additionally, new software tools are being developed to minimize errors when estimating costs, taking measurements, or forecasting project completion times. With AI, construction leaders can proactively identify and mitigate workplace risks before they even emerge.