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Improper use of PPE costs billions

16 October 2018

THE IMPROPER use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) has cost businesses operating in high-risk environments an estimated £79 billion* in the last year, according to new figures from vision AI company, Cortexica.

In a new white paper titled “Overcoming the barriers of PPE compliance with the use of artificial intelligence”, Cortexica identifies injury claims, inefficiencies caused from injured and absent workers, and the purchase of new equipment as the most significant costs to businesses caused by PPE non-compliance. On an individual level, 5% of businesses in high-risk environments lost over £1 million from PPE non-compliance in the last year, with 30% losing over £250k.

The report also highlights how drastically workplace injuries can be cut through the proper use of PPE. Of the 27 injuries that led to days off work in last 12 months for the average business, 29% could have been prevented if employees had complied with the proper PPE guidelines. Lifting and handling, dealing with industrial machinery, and slips or falls were the most common cause of injuries in the workplace.

According to the report human error was identified as the key cause of workplace injuries. Eradicating PPE failure through the delivery of an AI driven PPE monitoring system was identified as a solution, especially for the 84% of businesses interviewed that still rely on manually checking employees for PPE compliance. Over three quarters (78%) of those surveyed for the report also believe that AI systems would reduce the risk of accidents by flagging potential issues in real-time.

This is not lost on health and safety professionals, nearly two thirds (64%) of which indicated in the report that they intend investing in AI and machine vision systems to monitor employees PPE within the next five years.

“Personal Protection Equipment compliance is something that businesses operating in high-risk environments have to get right, and the report highlights why” said Iain McCready, Cortexica’s CEO. “Not only do they have a duty of care to their employees, but they need to protect themselves from the financial consequences of injuries in the workplace. To our surprise, the report highlights many businesses are still manually monitoring PPE compliance, even with a number of industry-ready AI applications on the market that can reduce these risks.”

*The estimate was calculated by multiplying the average amount of money that businesses lose from improper use of PPE according to Cortexica’s report (£62,000) with the estimated amount of construction and manufacturing businesses operating in the UK (1,274,000) according to latest government statistics: http://researchbriefings.files.parliament.uk/documents/SN06152/SN06152.pdf