AI: a powerful new tool for managing safety risks

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AI-driven technology is revolutionising the management of occupational safety and health, making it easier to spot hazards, predict unsafe behaviours and take preventative action to protect workers.

Artificial intelligence (AI) and technological developments have been talking points for many years. Many of us have been using and embracing this technology for years in both our working and daily lives – often without thinking about it. Likewise, we’ve seen jobs in manufacturing, health, engineering and many other sectors changed by technology. But it perhaps wasn’t until the launch of ChatGPT at the end of 2022 that we really started to see how advancements in tech – and specifically, AI – could change the future of workplaces and jobs.

Photograph: iStock.com/Shutthiphong Chandaeng

There has been a lot of negative sentiment around AI and technology, specifically around how it will replace jobs in the future. However, the reality is that it can help us all perform our jobs more effectively and efficiently. Not only can it save time and money, but AI and technology can actually help workers to thrive.

At EcoOnline, our occupational safety and health solutions have been utilising technology since the turn of the century. After seeing an opportunity to reduce admin errors and cut down on paperwork, our incident reporting software has made it easier for EHS (environment, health and safety) leaders to keep on top of incidents, accidents and near misses and thoroughly investigate the causes in order to help mitigate risk and prevent them re-occurring.

Throughout the last 24 years, our ethos has always been to make the best use of technology to help businesses operate more effectively and efficiently and to reduce health and safety risks. And in 2024, the latest technology is no longer ‘a nice to have’ – it’s vital for businesses, regardless of sector, to continue to keep up-to-date with the latest developments in the field. And one area of business operations that can benefit greatly from adopting the latest technology is in the management of occupational health and safety risks.

The recent integration of advanced technology, and particularly AI, has become instrumental in enhancing workplace safety across multiple industries and disciplines. By leveraging AI-driven solutions, EHS professionals can mitigate risks, reduce the number of accidents and ensure the overall wellbeing of their employees in a number of ways.

One of the biggest developments in safety technology over the last decade has been the mass adoption of drones. While they are often used in recreational settings, they have been widely adopted by EHS leaders as a way to mitigate risk for those working in high-risk areas – for example, in mines, on offshore platforms and when dealing with potential contamination. By using them to scope out the area, safety professionals can gather a real-time picture of the current area, identify hazards and help workers better prepare for potential risks.

Analyse data

The main value of AI is often cited as its ability to analyse and interpret vast amounts of data and provide insight in real-time. This means that data gathered by – and sent through – safety apps, software and wearable tech can be continuously monitored to detect any potential risks and hazards, enabling EHS leaders to take preventative measures immediately if required.

In the past, this type of analysis would have meant carrying around multiple pieces of equipment (if it was even physically possible to do so), in order to produce a range of useful data. However, thanks to technological developments, this can now  be done on a phone and portable devices.

Using devices like computers and phones, EHS leaders can produce reports based on AI-powered data to build a picture of the state of safety – not only within the business itself, but also the industry by benchmarking the statistics against competitors.

This information can be pulled across multiple sites, worldwide, meaning data can be compared by region, country and even continent, providing priceless insight for EHS leaders and health and safety departments. All of this helps to build a real-time and accurate picture of the nature, scope and effectiveness of an organisation’s safety procedures, and helps pinpoint areas where changes need to be made – such as implementing further safety training.

Identifying patterns

However, this real-time analysis is only the beginning. AI can also identify patterns using historical data and create algorithms, in turn helping to anticipate safety issues and trends that could signal risks to the safety of an individual or a group of employees. Businesses and employees can use this data to take preventative measures to reduce the risk of injury, accidents and ill health.

For example, AI is capable of analysing CCTV footage to identify behaviours that might lead to workplace incidents. This is clearly much faster than manually reviewing the footage to look for behaviours indicative of people taking risks. Also, safety managers cannot physically oversee every area of a workplace, meaning this invaluable and potentially lifesaving information about risky behaviours would not have become available without the power of AI.

As AI becomes increasingly intelligent, bigger and more effective ways of using it are emerging. However, sometimes it’s the simplest forms that work best. For example, for the ‘basic’ task of a risk assessment, EHS leaders can create thorough risk assessments using AI – again, informed by real-time data – which are tailored to their specific business and the incidents witnessed, recorded and analysed by AI.

Photograph: iStock/Just_Super

For instance, within seconds, AI can show leaders how often a serious incident involving a human worker at night had occurred over the last 12 months – something EHS leaders would usually have to manually find, analyse and report on, to discover.

Incident prevention

When it comes to workers themselves, AI has helped to reduce the risk of incidents across many industries. For example, over the past decade, AI-driven robotics has automated many high-risk tasks that were traditionally performed by humans. Also, certain tasks involving work with chemicals or carried out in hazardous environments can now be done just as effectively by AI robotics – often overseen by a human worker from a safe distance. Not only does this keep people safe – first and foremost – but it also helps to increase efficiency and productivity, while also eradicating the risk of human error.

Looking to the future, the increasingly widespread adoption of AI and new technology is helping to improve workplace safety in a huge range of industries, which is good news for everyone.

AI is helping industry to adopt a more proactive, rather than reactive, approach to workplace health and safety, which is helping to more effectively protect workers. And, if workers feel safer and healthier at work, this makes them to feel more dedicated, driven and loyal to their employer and their jobs. And we know that employees who feel safe are more likely to work harder and stay at a company for longer periods of time – reducing recruitment costs and downtime spent filling vacant roles.

AI and technology are set to continue to reshape the landscape of workplace safety. AI analytics, AI robotics and immersive technologies offer unprecedented opportunities to enhance employee wellbeing and mitigate risks, and create safer and more resilient work environments. As we embrace the future of technology and work, business investment in AI-powered safety solutions is expected to grow rapidly, both to boost business efficiency and to meet the moral obligation to safeguard the health, safety and welfare of employees.

Webinar on harnessing AI for health and safety

We know it can be a daunting task to fully rely on technology and AI. So, to help business leaders understand the ever-changing AI and tech landscape, we are hosting a free webinar on Wednesday 22 May exploring how businesses can harness AI for health and safety.

The webinar will give attendees practical strategies for harnessing AI to drive operational excellence and improve safety standards. As EcoOnline’s principal product director, I will interview experts from the world of AI solutions to explore the various ways AI is revolutionising safety practices and empowering professionals to navigate and improve today’s complex EHS landscape with precision and efficiency. There will also be a Live Q&A, allowing attendees to join the conversation and ask questions.

Robert Leech is principal product director at EcoOnline.


Register for the free EcoOnline webinar on 22 May at:


For more information see:


[email protected]

T: +44 (0)20 8133 4551


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