Does Your Security System Enhance Workplace Safety?

By Ben Ziomek

W orkplace safety could be a serious challenge and business expense for just about any organization. The scope of risks to workers is varied-from personal protective equipment (PPE) compliance and accidental falls, to intruders and violent threats-and the duty of monitoring, identifying, and giving an answer to incidents quickly accumulates, both with regards to costs and labor. The National Safety Council (NSC) estimates that workplace injuries in 2019 cost the nation, employers, and people $171 billion in lost productivity, medical expenses, and administrative expenses.

Photo: Getty Images/KENGKAT

What most employers don’t realize is they have already laid the groundwork for a holistic solution through their security camera systems. About 90% of organizations already have security cameras-yet many are unmonitored, resulting in the compounding costs of missing a safety incident and slow response times.

With security camera systems generally ubiquitous at workplaces already, employers can leverage Artificial Intelligence (AI) video analytics technology to cost-effectively turn their existing surveillance systems right into a smart tool for protecting employees and bottom lines. Computer vision software, an AI technology that processes visual data from images or video, can and automatically monitor security feeds continuously, detect potential threats to safety, tag incidents if they occur, and issue real-time alerts to security staff.

For employers, AI video analytics might help bridge the gap between incident and response by quickly identifying and addressing hazards before they become problems. The power for employers to proactively respond, or even more when incidents occur rapidly, can make all the difference for mitigating or preventing risks because of their employees.

THE EXPENSES of Noncompliance

One of the most common workplace safety challenges is PPE compliance. In industries with extensive safety and health threats like construction, manufacturing, hospitals, and chemical plants, PPE is necessary throughout most commonly, if not every one of the workday. However, the truth is, workers comply don’t always. A 2010 Kimberly-Clark Professional survey discovered that 98% of respondents had observed workers not wearing safety equipment if they should have been. Moreover, exactly the same survey found 30% of respondents claimed this is a standard occurrence for exactly the same individuals.

The hyperlink between PPE noncompliance and workplace injuries is strong extremely. For instance, the Kimberly-Clark Professional survey quoted above discovered that types of high PPE noncompliance included head protection, protective apparel, and eye protection. Reports have discovered troublingly high amounts of workers who suffered injuries weren’t wearing the correct protection at that time; specifically, in a 2005 study presented by environmentally friendly Safe practices department of NY University (NYU), “hard hats were worn by only 16% of these workers who sustained head injuries; only 1% of around 770 workers suffering face injuries were wearing face protection; … about 40% of the workers with eye injuries wore eye protective equipment.”.

Safety industry experts agree that PPE compliance would assist in preventing nearly 100% of certain workplace injuries, particularly eye and ear injuries. Sufficient reason for the average cost per medically-consulted injury estimated at $42,000-along with potential Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) fines as high as $136,532 per violation-businesses simply can’t afford to let workers neglect to adhere to PPE protocols.

Proactively Address Safety Violations

With such high costs of workplace PPE and injuries compliance offering this effective fix for many incidents, the main element for businesses to make sure workers stay safe is vigilance and proactivity.

Security cameras built with AI-powered analytics software monitor PPE usage face to face continuously. These analytics collect data on compliance, spotting trends and protracting insights to generate better safety protocols, and alert safety personnel of safety violations instantly, permitting them to intervene and become proactive in preventing injuries. The easy difference between missing an incident of PPE misuse and spotting the noncompliance is all it requires to improve a liability and stop potential injury and costs.

Along with PPE, workplaces have other safety protocols often, including the ones that restrict who or what’s allowed to maintain specific zones, or how certain equipment can be used. Hazards in such cases can generally be observed and detected before they become hazards-a device in the incorrect place or used incorrectly, or perhaps a heavy object leaning against a ledge.

Preventing these risks from causing damage is really as simple as spotting them and correcting them. AI analytics tools can identify and flag these presssing issues for security personnel, to allow them to address them or recommend instituting better occupational safety and health protocols.

Giving an answer to Incidents Quickly and Effectively

Slip and fall incidents constitute another costly and large group of workplace safety risks. In 2019 alone, there have been 244,000 workplace slip and fall incidents reported that led to injuries requiring days faraway from work, with 880 leading to fatalities. The common cost of an individual incident ranged from $30,000 to $40,000, based on the NSC.

Building security and management personnel miss detecting slip and fall incidents regularly often, resulting in poorer safety outcomes and costly legal claims. Identifying the incident, documenting and reporting it, and investigating its cause are important steps towards reducing claims and the probability of similar events.

AI analytics can detect and flag slip and fall incidents and hazards, allowing staff to examine address and video potential risks. The same software may also reduce risk by archiving evidence and retaining important data when necessary in cases of litigation. The capability to retrieve footage, analyze data rapidly, and automatically tag incidents with a higher amount of accuracy can save a large number of operator hours monthly.

Security personnel also face challenges around rapidly giving an answer to workplace violence incidents. The problem is widespread-OSHA reports that some 2 million Americans are victims of workplace violence every year, with higher risks to certain industries, including healthcare. Workplace violence in hospitals along with other workplaces with extensive, complex facilities could be difficult to control, given security teams have limited resources and may only monitor a fraction of the workplace at confirmed time.

Security systems empowered by AI analytics monitor entire facilities instantly and will identify intruders, weapons, and violent behavior. This technology helps security teams to recognize threats instantly and drastically reduces response time when incidents do occur, leading to greater safety outcomes.

Improving Safety Through Smarter Monitoring

While it could be impossible to totally eliminate safety hazards and threats at work, maintaining a far more vigilant security program can save organizations considerable money and perhaps, human lives. AI safety solutions work in tandem with security and compliance teams, offering them an instrument to boost their outcomes and work smarter.

For businesses with existing security camera systems, adopting AI analytics could be a seamless integration. AI tools can transform workplace safety from the costly, difficult, and wide scoping challenge right into a data-driven and automated process that rapidly improves safety and mitigates costs of lost labor, compensation, or litigation.

Ziomek is co-founder and CTO of Actuate , a provider of intelligence and automation software for smart security camera systems. Ben started his profession at Microsoft, where he led teams of engineers and data scientists leveraging AI to recognize high-potential startups globally, driving nine numbers of cloud revenue. He’s got worked being an AI consultant in Chicago, SAN FRANCISCO BAY AREA, and Tel Aviv, so when a VC buying AI and gaming startups. In 2020, Ben was recognized on the Forbes 30 Under 30 Listing. Ben holds a BA from Bowdoin University and an MBA from the University of Chicago Booth College of Business.

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