Innovation is everywhere in the working environment, with new technologies emerging at an ever more rapid pace.
Drones, wearables, artificial intelligence (AI), robotics and other advanced technologies are all being used to streamline processes and potentially create competitive advantage, across multiple sectors and industry areas.
As an environmental, health, and safety (EHS) professional, you're in a pivotal position where integrating these technologies calls for program updates.
That’s why staying competitive is essential, and even more crucial is addressing how their implementation might impact your team.
Questions to ask yourself
There are questions about whether complex technologies, such as AI or machine learning, will create unanticipated EHS risks. Will they need virtual ‘guard rails’ from the outset? And, if so, how can this be implemented?
The answers are not easy, and there are also regulatory requirements and consensus standards to consider.
Experience suggests that these structures tend to lag behind the development of new technologies.
A good place to start is by asking yourself the following questions:
1. How might these technologies play an innovative role in the evolution of your workplace and profession?
2. Are the full range of views and concerns of those who will work with these technologies being actively considered?
3. Is enough care being taken to ensure that these technologies are being integrated safely into your profession?
Catalyzing safety culture enhancement through technological infusion
Innovative technologies are pivotal in elevating the safety culture within your organization and enhancing the delivery of EHS protocols.
Mobile interactions with the workforce provide a foundation for fostering trust and engagement, particularly in situations where traditional face-to-face interactions are impractical.
Automation facilitated by these technologies streamlines routine EHS tasks, such as incident tracking and resolution, ultimately bolstering workflow efficiency.
Wearable technologies: a gateway to insightful safety enhancement
The familiarity with smartwatches' capacity to monitor personal fitness and health has paved the way for wearable technologies' integration into EHS practices.
Smart glasses and virtual reality headsets, now utilized in workplaces, have gained prominence, particularly post-pandemic, as tools to augment safety best practices.
These wearables create an immersive experience, blending the real and virtual worlds, offering avenues for more engaging and effective safety training. What’s more, they allow remote EHS audits, enabling on-site personnel to transmit real-time data to global subject matter experts for review.
The ethical and strategic imperatives of technology integration
As the rapid evolution of technology continues, EHS professionals bear the responsibility of establishing comprehensive policies for technology deployment.
Safeguarding data privacy and implementing health and safety best practices are paramount. Balancing the integration of technology with ethical considerations is key to ensuring that technology optimally enhances operations and propels your organization to the forefront of both your industry and the EHS profession.
Paving the path for industry leadership
The goal isn't to discourage using technology, but rather to help everyone understand what it can do and what effects it might have.
By proactively addressing these considerations through transparent assessments and contingency planning, you can set the stage for successful integration and rollout of new technologies.
In doing so, you position your organization as an industry leader, capitalizing on technology's potential to drive operations and elevate your profession.