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Despite concerted efforts to reduce serious injury and death on the job, workplace fatality rates increased in 2021, with more than 5,000 workers dying on the job, according to the latest report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Recognizing this trend and ongoing challenges organizations face to keep workers safe, the National Safety Council (NSC) has released a new white paper through its Work to Zero initiative, Using Data and AI to Gain Insights into Your Safety Program.

“[Environment, health and safety] professionals already manage large volumes of data on a daily basis, and advancements in analytics and artificial intelligence have made it easier to synthesize this information to improve existing risk mitigation activities,” said Emily Whitcomb, NSC director of innovation. “In addition to helping employers understand the benefits of investing in safety technology, this white paper outlines new ways organizations of all sizes can leverage AI-powered analytics to advance their workplace’s unique safety culture and ultimately prevent injuries and save lives.”

Workplace Fatalities
(Source: National Safety Council)


The new report evaluated findings from several academic and industrial journals to identify best practices for preventing instances of workplace illness, injury, and death with AI technology. Specifically, the white paper highlights three forms of machine learning organizations can leverage to save time and money, while enhancing performance and improving upon traditional EHS processes.

These include:

  • Computer vision technology. Commonly deployed within CCTV video management systems to monitor images and video footage and detect objects and workers’ proximity to hazards, computer vision capabilities can be combined with additional data such as location, time, and safety guidelines to deliver automated alerts for equipment malfunctions, vehicle collisions and more.
  • Natural language processing, which can rapidly summarize written reports and extract quantitative insights and sentiments, may be used to enhance productivity and streamline safety reporting and compliance.
  • Predictive and prescriptive analytics engines. Designed to enable AI to learn cause-and-effects from historical data, these rule-based systems can be configured to predict incidents before they occur and produce recommendations, such as the most suitable PPE for a specific task, across a range of operating environments.

While the latest research highlights modern data analytics and AI as powerful tools to reduce employee incidents and streamline manual tasks – creating more time for leaders and EHS professionals to focus on value-added initiatives – Work to Zero uncovered several barriers to widespread AI adoption, including potentially high implementation costs and privacy considerations. The white paper also identifies distinct challenges small organizations and large enterprises may face when selecting AI technology, and notes large businesses are more likely to benefit from customized platforms that assist with widespread data collection, training and deployment, while small firms should consider flexible, modular AI packages.

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Ergonomic Solution Helps Reduce Workplace Injuries, Enhance Employee Wellness

An ergonomic risk assessment tool that can identify high-risk body positions or movements that may lead to severe injuries and costly workers compensation claims is now available to Selective Insurance’s workers compensation policyholders. This solution was developed by TuMeke Ergonomics.

According to a study of workers compensation claims made with Selective, in 2021 workplace-related injuries were reported 18% earlier in employees’ tenure than in 2011 – 5.2 years compared to 6.4 years. The study also found that during that period, strain-related injuries were the most common type of workers compensation claims in construction (22.4%) and manufacturing and wholesale segments (27.2%).

“Strains to muscles, nerves, and tendons are some of the most frequent injuries employees experience at work. Many times, they are preventable with some ergonomic changes to our behaviors, such as when lifting heavy objects or performing repetitive tasks,” said Scott Smith, Vice President, Director of Safety Management, Selective Insurance. “Selective’s ergonomic safety solution from TuMeke provides a unique opportunity for employers to promote workplace wellness by spotting these potentially hazardous behaviors so they can be addressed and reduced, especially in labor-intensive industries.”

To help maintain an injury-free workplace, Selective policyholders can use a smartphone to record consenting employees completing a task. TuMeke’s AI software will review the footage to build detailed 3D models of the human body moving through space to complete industry-standard assessments that identify high-risk body positions and motions while maintaining employee privacy. At the end of the process, policyholders receive a report with findings and suggestions to reduce musculoskeletal pain and disorder risks.

This latest NSC research builds on the Work to Zero Safety Innovation Journey to help organizations assess risks, identify technology solutions, and ready workplaces for implementation. Funded by the McElhattan Foundation, Work to Zero aims to eliminate workplace fatalities through the use of technology.

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Read the full article "New Research Aims To Prevent Workplace Fatalities" on Facility Executive Magazine.

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