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Top ten technologies influencing the health and safety industry

Top ten technologies influencing the health and safety industry

What technology can be used to improve workplace health and safety? Technology can sometimes be a scary thing, but for those that embrace it the possibilities are endless. Imagine an accountant still working on excel. They would no longer be relevant in a fast-moving industry, and workplace health and safety is no different. This presentation, delivered by Matthew Browne, highlights the top 10 tech trends in the safety industry.

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See full transcript from Matthew Browne’s presentation here –

What I want to talk to you about today is technology and how it affects the safety professionals. So, there’s a lot of Technology out there. It’s the fastest moving thing happening. It’s never moved as fast as it has today and this is the slowest it’ll ever be. So, the reason I created Donesafe and this is definitely over sales pitch for Donesafe. So, if you got plenty of time to meet with us as we go but you know in terms of why I created Donesafe?

I was a health and safety practitioner in Mining and Manufacturing, I worked for a company called OneSteel and I was responsible for implementing the technology solution they used as a business. I was super frustrated with what I saw on the market. It tended to be clunky. You tended not to be able to get any insights out of it and you couldn’t actually use it in the field very nicely.

I wanted to create something that made things really easy for everybody to get involved in but also I wanted to make sure that we left, I guess, safety a better place from a technology standpoint and one of the things that we’ve worked very hard to do, is to, I guess be kind of agnostic when we talk to people about what technology exists and to give you a really clear understanding of where things are moving.

Recently, I was at a forum up on the Gold Coast, so not too far from here. It was the Gartner CIO Conference and they’re about 1,800 CIOs probably from a bunch of the organizations that are in this room today. Those CIOs were getting together to talk about the fastest-moving challenges that are happening in their businesses from a technology standpoint and what the world is doing and obviously the presentation from Disney, we saw a lot of technology there. There’s a lot of Technology and all of the functions that exist you know the marketing team has got great marketing automation tools and great insights to understand what’s happening.

The HR function is implementing incredible tools to deal with bullying and performance management and all those sorts of things but in safety, you know a lot of companies are still kind of grasping paperless and going paperless. You know we have got a long way to go and you’ll see there’s a lot of organizations here, a lot of vendors here that are working with you today that brought some really interesting technology. I recommend stopping by to spend some time but in terms of what Gartner we’re looking at well there were 10, I guess core trends that they were seeing for 2019.

Now what I want to do today is to kind of talk through those in a plain English way. I want to make sure I leave time for questions because you know these sorts of questions are ones that you often you know you’ll hear in your executive leadership team meetings. There’ll be technologies that are sort of coming into your business and you want to know, how you can kind of I guess affect the safety profession with those.

The 3 core things were autonomous things augmented analytics and AI driven development within digital twins empowered edge and immersive experience and within mesh there was blockchain and spark spaces and the 2 core things that underlie all of those were digital ethics and privacy which is massive for Health and Safety practitioners normally and then quantum computing which is a bit of an outlier. We’ll talk about that at the very end. Okay. Well, autonomous things, so you know when we think about autonomous things an AI, you know you often get the worst case scenario that’s talked about, maybe then you won’t need safety professionals because there’ll be no people doing work. I think that’s a very far off wave, if that’s ever going to happen in the first place. Where does it impact today and it really is an evolution curve it started off with various basic things like automation.

As practitioners being able to train technology to do things and the technology slowly learning from that to be able to then go out and obviously to make some decisions on its own. Where this goes over time is through machine learning? The machine eventually becomes able to make its own decisions from those learnings and you end up with what we call full autonomy. For autonomy means that all of these great things that we’ve been teaching technology you know, perhaps we’ve been talking at all of our insights and you know some of our risk metrics that we’ve been reporting to the board for years. We’ve been looking at that data and we’ve been suggesting to the machine that you know it is the right control measure to implement in this scenario or maybe this is the right piece of training to send to somebody under another scenario with full autonomy. The Machine starts to make those decisions for itself based on the data that’s being collected and then the further evolution of this is probably a little deep techy but it’s called ‘hive smart’ where machines start basically working together to recommend solutions based on all of the various impacts.

If you think about a manufacturing site, you might have to convey about running with all the sensors feeding into your material system. It might be also sending some data from incidents that are happening, maybe you have a 360 camera picking up a bunch of people’s activity. All that data is being crunched in real-time and the machines then recommending insights to people that are interacting with that work environment. For it to catch up, I know, we can’t even get this right. We’re talking about AI all right.


Augmented Analytics. Okay. So, we’ve talked about AI and we’ve talked about teaching the Machine. So it can provide insights.
Now, the next stage is I’m sure everybody in this room has gone into spreadsheets at some stage in their career and has built a board safety report or a team safety report or whatever it might be. Now, obviously we have business intelligence in place which is kind of the next evolution of that curve and your organizations are investing more and more in corporate business intelligence solutions. The next step is augmented analytics and what this means is again using some of that automation and analytics that’s happening from an AI point of view. You’re actually able to programmatically start gathering insights from all of that content, okay. That’s what this does is it improves decision-making in real-time. So, again if you think about an employee, who’s potentially walking out to site to do you know true a traditional risk assessment or a task-based assessment before they start a job, rather than just filling in a checklist and putting some actions in place, as they’re completing those activities because of all the insights that have been gathered, the system’s automatically starting to recommend to that end user, the safety controls they should put into place.

This allows workers to have just-in-time information. You know at the higher end the board can get information in real time and can know what they need to do in the decisions they need to make to direct the company but for an end user it’s able to keep them safer by giving them details and I guess prescriptive information that they can work with before they start a task.


AI-driven development who here has ever written any software? Just show of hands. Anyone ever done any coding? A few people great, ok. For those who haven’t, it’s pretty scary thinking about building software. The future role of everybody in every business will actually be a developer. The safety profession, you will all become coders in your own right. But that doesn’t mean you need to go out and learn a programming language. AI-driven development actually enables you to use voice or using you know drag-and-drop elements or whatever it may be to very quickly create proofs of concept, that you can then deploy out to an organization, in what we call a Minimum Viable Product, get feedback immediately and then make changes in real time. One of the days of working with a software vendor to spend a year building some piece of software that you deploy and everyone hates. You can now basically work on things in real time, get real-time feedback and that then enables you to iterate and get better with those sorts of things but then tying it in with all of the other pieces I’ve already talked about, automation and AI and also, the analytics components to plug all of that together to get a complete solution.

Digital Twins. Obviously, Arny and Danny DaVita the very good-looking twins they were. Digital Twins is the ability to create simulations and scenarios in real time. If you think about some of the horrible disasters that we’ve been witness to as safety professionals the likes of Bhopal and there’s been some hideous, widespread decimation from safety and from an environmental point of view. What a digital twin allows you to do, is to run real-time similar simulations in a near environment to the environment that you normally operate in and so if you think about you know high process high-risk type environments. The ability to see various scenarios, various controls being implemented and then to test that in a digital environment as opposed to obviously testing it in real time and seeing the ramifications has massive benefits for the safety community. There are great examples here of some of the early stages of this in the VR and AR based technology.

If you look at training individuals or toolbox talks or incident investigation, typically today when these happen you know, they’re done using e-learning or they’re done using you know face-to-face training or having a toolbox talk on-site where everyone stands around a piece of equipment or whatever it might be. Imagine if you could stick a VR headset on and you could actually see the environment you could communicate with each other, you could annotate and you could capture data that then could be mined for analytics, without ever stepping foot into that dangerous situation. From a training point of view for new people joining websites whether it might be for new people sort of who are new to a particular area or whether it’s just for day-to-day communication, those sorts of technologies can really help.

Empowered Edge. So, well that’s great, okay. All these things are really you know really practical things you can put into your business today, to obviously give you a technological advantage but without, obviously, high-speed internet being available to your device. A lot of this can’t happen okay and so what the empowered edge is? The ability for data analytics and for activities to happen in the device, that you’re holding in your hands, using high-speed internet to get results very quickly. You will have heard of 5G being implemented, for example, in Australia. 5G has made you know the NBN irrelevant. It’s basically the fastest internet that we’ve ever seen and with 5G deployment and also the increase in complexity and intelligence in smartphones and devices IoT devices that we’re wearing. You’ve really got the ability to do a hell of a lot of crunching at them, at the point. And if you think about simple cases, things like hot work where you know somebody would be inducted into do hot work that have a certification, they’d have a permit, they’ve been carrying out the activity. It’s a pretty high risky activity especially when you’re also dealing with confined spaces and a bunch of other things but if you’ve got an IoT devices that are connected to your personal device that can make millisecond calculations. It gives you that ability for that end-user to again get real-time insights, this isn’t the safest thing to be doing I need to be doing something different.


Immersive Experience. Okay, we already talked a little bit about this in terms of virtual reality and augmented reality. So, today you know virtual reality is definitely no longer a buzzword. A virtual reality kind of popped its head up in the 90s originally, you’d see a bunch of blocky animations and that was kind of your VR experience. Where virtual reality and augmented reality come into play from a health and safety point of view is the ability again to utilize some of those tools I talked about earlier like digital twins and to actually dive into those and be in the first person. The ability to jump in and actually see the environment work with the environment interact with the environment without ever having to put yourself in harm’s way, that’s kind of where we’re at now and obviously there’s a bunch of players in that space, you’ve got SeePilot locally here that have done some work in that area. You then move into augmented reality and augmented reality is basically the ability to have things happen in the natural environment without you having to obviously step into a fully immersive experience. I don’t know if anyone played Pokémon go? I don’t have anyone admit to that. No. Good. Maybe your kids? I did play Pokémon go and I did enjoy catching Pokémon on the bus but basically augmented reality allows you to see objects in front of you using whichever device you can get access to and so one of the cool ones that I’ve seen over the valley is actually safety glasses that enable you through object recognition to actually see some of the hazards as you’re interacting within our work environment and then using some of those other technologies that we talked about machine learning and artificial intelligence to mine that data and constantly improve. Okay.

Blockchain. My favorite. This is not Bitcoin. Okay. I’m not talking to you about Bitcoin today. I don’t want to sell you on the latest Bitcoin scam, I promise. Blockchain is the underlying technology, behind all of the hype of Bitcoin in a theorem ok. Has everyone would have heard of the blockchain? By now, I don’t think this would be a new concept for anyone. But blockchain as an actual concept. What it has impacts? For safety, the profession is really on verification testing, certification auditing, ok. The ability to basically use decentralized verification. So, everybody in this room could be part of a blockchain effectively and the core knowledge of all of the people in this room could be part of the verification process to say something is safe, alright. That’s a real sort of simple example of how blockchain could potentially be utilized.
Smart Spaces. Ok. So, again. Why do I have a tinfoil hat person up as my slide picture here? It’s because we’re finally interacting with satellites as people. So the tinfoil hat people were right. We are working with satellites more and more, okay. Now satellites used to be you know big devices cost millions and millions of dollars and be super expensive to get up into space. They’re now smaller than a toaster. They can be 3D printed. They can be shipped with a hot air balloon and you can basically have your own personal satellite for your business.

There’s a number of companies one in South Australia called Fleet, that are building satellites for enterprises to enable them to interact with their own IoT devices. Now, what does that mean? Well, what that means is that you can now as a business have satellites used for your own safety, you could potentially plug them in to identify with IoT devices wearables, for example, to know who’s on location and potentially, how they’re interacting with their work site? Simple. Examples are from a mining background, one of our biggest risks was people and heavy vehicle interaction on roads and walkways and the worst nemesis that I ever saw and some of the worst injuries I ever saw where a truck would either collide with a light vehicle or interact with a person. And so imagine being able to know where every single person is on your site, where every single vehicle, where every single truck and being able to alert those individuals to people’s presence. I think that’s going to be one of the most powerful uses of this technology.
Of course, underpinning all of this is Digital Ethics and Privacy, okay. It’s terrifying. I tell you, it is a tech company CEO this is the thing that keeps me awake, is the data that we obviously collect and collate ensuring we keep it safe for all of you and for all of your customers. It’s the most important thing for us but also one of the most important things for you I’m sure.


Traditionally, you know if you think especially for your global organizations or you’re working with global teams, you know, understanding the geographical risks around dealing with employee data things like GDPR, for example, gone are the days we can have a filing cabinet full of injured persons details that are unlocked and open access. So, obviously thinking through no matter what technology solutions you choose thinking through the ramifications. From a digital ethics and privacy point of view is obviously imperative. And always thinking about you know the ethical nature of this data as well you know, what am I using this for? Am I using this to help me with my transformation program? And potentially to let some people go, or am I using this to really keep people safe? So, thinking through, how you’re using these data? How you’re keeping this data? And what you’re doing with it?


Quantum Computing. I still remember as a kid watching beyond 2000 and they were talking about quantum computing was going to be the next thing, what I’m talking an imminent, okay. It’s kind of getting there, all right. What quantum computing is, it’s basically just incredible horsepower for crunching data effectively and in real time. If you imagine all of the knowledge and everybody’s heads here and all of your entire organizations around health and safety, being able to run scenarios or tests against that entire data and having millisecond level response. That’s the type of power that we’re talking about it, IBM is doing incredible work here and you know we’ve been doing some work with IBM on that in terms of how we can crunch data more quickly and provide results but you know this is going to be something that is not going to be when I can be talking about beyond 2030. This is something in this decade that will be happening and it’s already happening this year. So, quantum computing is definitely something to check out.