Technology can drive down accidents

25 October 2019

NEW TECHNOLOGIES can help continue the drive to prevent workplace accidents and work-related illness, the President of the global chartered body for health and safety professionals said.

Opening IOSH 2019, the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health’s (IOSH) annual conference, Professor Vincent Ho urged delegates to explore how such technology can assist them in their work.

At the same time, he said, health and safety professionals must consider how some emerging technologies can create new risks to working people.

“Ways of working are evolving rapidly as new technologies emerge,” he said. “With this comes new risks. We have to respond and address these new risks and ensure we continue to improve safety and health the world over.

“But many of these new technologies can actually help us better protect people, so we must take advantage of this.”

Prof Ho cited recently-published research into how digital apps can help construction project designers create safer buildings. Another new research project investigated how virtual reality can provide valuable insights into workers’ behaviour during emergency evacuations, therefore improving safety awareness.

The latter research is being published to coincide with IOSH 2019, which began today at the International Convention Centre in Birmingham.

Addressing over 500 delegates, including health and safety professionals and other business leaders, Prof Ho said vast improvements have been made over the past decades in how working people are protected.

With that, he said, health and safety is becoming increasingly valued by business leaders, who recognise investing in it delivers a “significant return”.

But, with an estimated 2.78 million people dying every year in a workplace accident or from illness caused by work, he said more must be done.

“Despite that progress, people are still being injured or killed at work,” he said. “And people are still becoming ill because of the work they do.

“We must redouble our efforts and continue to strive for new ways of protecting working people. We want them to be able to return home from work every day safe and healthy. That is something that each of us wants. That is what unites us. This is our mission.”