As the Workplace Health & Safety Show gets underway, Cameron Stevens detailed how technology can assist when improving safety.
The deployment of technology solutions in the workplace is on the rise, promising to boost worker efficiency, productivity, and even workplace health and safety.
According to Cameron Stevens, safety technologist and founder of the Safety Innovation Academy, health and safety professionals are well-positioned to serve as the mediators between technology and the workers who’ll use it to resolve workplace safety and health challenges.
“To support responsible innovation, OHS professionals need to improve their digital literacy and get curious about new technology and industry trends – everything from next generation network connectivity and mobile devices to wearables and the various technologies we call artificial intelligence” he said.
Five tech adoption tips for
Do your homework: “Learn about emerging technology trends such AI, immersive technologies and connected work, as well as the disciplines surrounding these, including data science, ethics and human-centred design,” Cameron said.
Ensure technology enhances the design of work: Cameron notes that businesses invest heavily in the latest technology, only for it to end up collecting dust on a shelf because workers don’t know how to use it properly, or it doesn’t fit into their business or their workflows, or worse, it adds to the burden of work. “The goal is not to implement tech for the sake of tech, or to be perceived as being innovative – it’s to improve the design of work and, in turn, improve the experience and safety of work,” he said
Ask vendors good quality questions: Cameron reiterates the importance of a rigorous selection process that aligns with the context and objectives of your business. “Start by asking how the proposed solution will meet the requirements you have defined for your workplace,” he said.
“Be clear on exactly how the technology will solve your business problems. Avoid customisation where possible as this can limit flexibility in the future,” Cameron said.
Select tech for workers: Technology should be easy to use, intuitive, engaging and beneficial to the user – employees and contractors. “Get workers involved in the solution design. This helps build trust, the most important ingredient of a technology deployment” Cameron said.
Become an integral part of the organisation’s tech strategy: Noting that safety professionals are seldom consulted or included in the design of workplaces, workflow and decisions around workplace technologies, Cameron encourages OHS professionals to challenge the status quo. “Build a relationship with your tech team,” Cameron said.
“Understand what’s on their strategy and how you could contribute to their deliverables. Determine how health and safety could be embedded into the technology strategy for the business. This allows you to help shape the design of tech in your organisation as you can drive discussions around workers’ needs,” he said.
Balancing the upside of technology innovation
Technology brings both opportunities and risks to the workplace. Cameron looks forward to the adoption of new technology innovations, including automation, robotics, drones and wearable devices.
“Exploring the opportunities of technology to improve workplace health and safety is critical; if we only focus on the risks, we’ll never unlock progress. To ensure we manage the risks of technology we should adopt a culture of responsible innovation,” he explains.
Responsible innovation refers to an approach that emphasises the ethical, social, and environmental implications of technological advancements, to ensure the responsible development and deployment of innovation.
Cameron suggests health and safety professionals have a role to “ensure that tech-enabled innovation is conducted in a way that benefits workers and the workplace as a whole, minimises potential harm, and aligns with core values such as sustainability, inclusivity and transparency,” he said. “As OHS leaders, we need to reimagine our roles as controllers of risk, to agents of responsible change,” Cameron concludes
Cameron will be presenting at the Workplace Health and Safety Show’s Knowledge Centre on 20 September 2023, on the topic of Practical SafetyTech: How to get started exploring the intersection where safety & technology meet at the cutting edge.
Interested professionals can view the complete Workplace Health and Safety Show program and register for free, at www.whsshow.com.au/sydney/program.
About the Workplace Health and Safety Show 2023
The Workplace Health & Safety Show is a live, interactive, two-way learning experience spanning two action packed days and showcasing the cutting-edge technology, ideas and practices of the safety world. The show provides an interactive space for Workplace Health and Safety professionals to hear from industry leaders on how to best foster healthy and safe work environments. Taking strong momentum from Melbourne and Sydney 2022 as well as Brisbane 2023, the future events will take place in Sydney (September 2023) and Melbourne (May 2024)
Workplace Health and Safety Show: Wednesday 20 and Thursday 21 September 2023, Sydney Showground, Sydney Olympic Park