Harnessing the Power of Artificial Intelligence to Improve Human Health and Safety
This article focuses on the use of artificial intelligence as a tool for improving the health of humans and the safety of their working lives.
Join the DZone community and get the full member experience.Join For Free
In terms of new technology, the world is at a turning point. These days, the Internet of Things, machine learning, and artificial intelligence combine to transform industries worldwide. The arrival of Industry 4.0 is significantly enhancing the efficiency of all corporate procedures. Production, marketing, security, and worker safety are all changing.
Many industries require handling hazardous chemicals, gasses, and machinery. Here's where AI can be quite helpful. With AI solutions, workplace safety may be increased, accidents can be avoided, and injuries can be avoided. Read this article to find out more about how AI contributes to a safe workplace.
AI and Its Effects on Workplace Safety
Let's first discuss how artificial intelligence/machine learning fits into the industrial sector before getting into the specifics. All AI models are only as good as the machine learning foundation upon which they are built. Machine learning (ML) is the act of analyzing large volumes of data using sophisticated software to detect patterns, weak points, and a better understanding of the whole production process.
When problems are detected by the ML system, AI may suggest fixes to ensure an optimal result. Although AI may behave like a person, it is significantly more adept at managing many inputs and solving problems that appear insurmountable. Through the use of the Internet of Things, or IoT, AI may assist in creating a safer working environment by reducing hazards tenfold.
IoT and Workplace Safety
The Internet of Things (IoT) refers to a "smart" system that uses sensors to monitor everything, including personnel, whole manufacturing lines, and specific devices. After the sensors are installed, the ML model keeps an eye on every component, spots any threats, and AI suggests fixes. AI is capable of identifying health concerns and issuing alerts before anything goes wrong because of its remarkable capacity to forecast future patterns.
To reduce possible hazards, you may configure predictive warnings and notifications across the board. Depending on the sector, such a device may avert major injuries and save lives.
It is possible to make hazardous industrial processes — like those used in mining, heavy metal production, and other industries — much safer. Wearable sensors, for instance, may be used by employees who spend a lot of time in intense heat to track their temperatures, heart rates, etc. The user will get an alarm from the sensor to avoid harm whenever it identifies a danger.
IoT has enormous advantages for many different businesses and can be fully customized to meet the demands of each one. To reduce the spread of illness among staff, for example, AI can be used for contact tracking in addition to danger identification. Now that you are aware of how AI contributes to a safe workplace, let's review its advantages in a few real-world scenarios.
Benefits of Using AI to Improve Workplace Safety
Manufacturing, mining, and other hazardous sectors currently use artificial intelligence, as it has shown to be an effective tool for preventing injuries. Here are a few advantages it offers in real life.
AI in Emergency Response and Disaster Management
AI/ML technologies play a critical role in enhancing catastrophe management and emergency response. During natural catastrophes, intelligent systems are capable of analyzing enormous volumes of data, including social media posts, to determine the impacted locations and evaluate the degree of damage. Drones and robots with AI capabilities are used in search and rescue situations to discover and assist people quickly. This feature cuts down on the amount of time required to lessen the effects of catastrophes and greatly improves the efficacy of emergency response teams.
Human Error Reduction
The primary cause of occupational accidents among employees turns out to be human error. Furthermore, a single inaccuracy has the potential to cost millions of dollars in downtime in addition to endangering others.
Worker stress or weariness is the primary cause of most workplace injuries. In the U.S., almost 40% of workers find it difficult to keep up with their workload, which often results in risky errors. But since AI never sleeps, it is error-free. When combined with IoT, the appropriate machine learning model may identify dangerous zones, anticipate worker tiredness, and warn people before anything bad occurs.
It's just a way to assist you in setting up a secure work environment. By doing so, you'll not only help your employees feel safer but also optimize your whole production process and save downtime brought on by human mistakes.
Automation of Dangerous Tasks
AI and machine learning can take over factory tools and make them work better. Artificial intelligence has the ability to replace all robotic manufacturing and automate the most hazardous operations in hazardous situations that would otherwise be fatal to people. For many years, robots have been used to examine hazardous environments.
They have the ability to penetrate dangerous areas and report back to a person in a secure location. Drone use, for instance, has increased dramatically in the construction sector in recent years due to the increased safety it provides for site inspection and reporting.
Drones can provide an alternative viewpoint that enables people to identify problems that they otherwise would not be able to. Drones really increase the safety of all inspection tasks. Roof inspectors no longer need to scale rooftops in order to conduct assessments. Not only can drones increase safety, but they also increase productivity.
AI can now follow each individual worker on various levels thanks to IoT devices. It turns out that when it came to stopping the spread of infections, staff monitoring has had amazing results. For instance, supervisors may go through past monitoring data to locate every individual the employee came into contact with when they were contagious if one of them tests positive for COVID-19. In this manner, businesses may stop an epidemic by promptly determining how the virus is spreading.
Worker monitoring, however, may contribute to a safe workplace in a variety of additional ways, such as:
- Monitoring the location of individuals
- Keeping an eye on each person's vital indicators and warning employees about potential environmental risks
- Giving remote workers reliable information
- Minimizing the likelihood of bodily harm
- Boosting employee education
Harassment at work has long been a major problem for businesses worldwide. AI may also be helpful in cases of sexual harassment at work, where 4 out of 5 women report having experienced it. It has the ability to investigate workplace harassment and identify its perpetrators.
AI also searches emails and other files for offensive language by using natural language processing, or NLP. It may immediately notify the manager's office if it discovers one. Data may also be used to spot possible problems like unfair promotions. AI capable of speech recognition may also provide comprehensive reports and identify spoken words during a discussion.
One of the primary causes of workplace personal injury is malfunctioning machinery and equipment. AI has the potential to lower the thousands of deaths and horrifying injuries that occur annually in a variety of sectors. Once again, IoT can assist in locating malfunctioning machinery and industrial components and suggest the best fixes before a catastrophe occurs.
Crime Detection and Prevention
Even with security cameras on your manufacturing lines, you won't be able to determine whether or not a crime was committed until you watch the footage that was captured. Crime is not prevented by passive surveillance, but with AI-enabled cameras, you will get notifications as soon as anything suspect occurs.
AI/ML can detect suspicious activity in real time and promptly transmit notifications, enabling you to apprehend the offender in the act. To frighten off the thief, you may program triggers to turn on lights and sirens automatically. Furthermore, AI can recognize noises like glass shattering, heavy thuds, etc. using audio-enabled cameras.
Challenges and Ethical Considerations
Although there is no denying AI's advantages for health and safety, there remain obstacles and moral issues to be resolved. Data security and privacy concerns are only two topics that need serious thought. To lessen these difficulties, it is crucial to create strong legal frameworks, encourage moral AI practices, and guarantee transparency in AI systems.
Keeping everyone safe at work is and always should be your top priority. But it's not practical to monitor every worker and manufacturing line in real time using conventional techniques. You can greatly minimize downtime, increase overall productivity, and establish a safe work environment with the use of AI, IoT, and other accessible technologies.
It may also assist you in keeping an eye on employee weariness, identifying possible risks, and guaranteeing worker safety at all times. Workplace safety is rapidly evolving, and AI systems will likely soon be able to almost completely eliminate accident rates. It's just a circumstance where everyone benefits — workers and management alike.
Opinions expressed by DZone contributors are their own.