New from NSC: ‘Using Computer Vision as a Risk Mitigation Tool’

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Itasca, IL — A new white paper from the National Safety Council shows how computer vision technology can be used to protect workers from serious injury and death.

The white paper builds on initial research conducted via NSC’s Work to Zero initiative in 2020 to determine several key technologies to mitigate hazardous workplace situations.

For the new report, researchers evaluated findings from several journals related to computer vision – artificial intelligence-paired camera technology and video analytics – to facilitate a greater understanding of the innovation’s ability to identify risks across a variety of environments. Additionally, they compiled case studies and interview data from previously published reports to outline the most promising trends and resources employers can leverage to more effectively prevent worker injury and death.

Key findings include:

  • Computer vision’s ability to track and log data, and then instantly deploy this information to predict when incidents may occur, makes this technology ideal for industries that use heavy machinery and involve extensive movement, such as manufacturing, logistics, construction and warehousing.
  • Computer vision is especially effective in identifying when personal protective equipment is being properly used, and enables managers to more efficiently mitigate unsafe situations. In addition, this technology can be used to help monitor fatigue and other impairing conditions when driving.
  • By detecting anomalies in the workplace, such as unwanted guests, unusual behaviors and weapons, computer vision can be a helpful tool for employers to identify and prevent workplace violence.
  • Computer vision has applications that can protect worker health by monitoring ill employees, including with whom they’ve interacted and objects in which they may have come in contact. Some computer vision systems can also be trained to recognize best practices during emergency situations.

Limitations with current computer vision technology include image quality on closed-circuit TVs and AI software’s ability to operate in unfamiliar settings. The white paper lists common challenges to widespread computer vision adoption, including cost and system security barriers, prompting a call for employers and vendors to increase collaboration and transparency when implementing safety solutions.

“Every worker deserves the promise of returning home safely from work at the end of each day, but nationwide, 3.4 fatalities occur per every 100,000 full-time equivalent workers,” said Paul Vincent, executive vice president of workplace practice at NSC. “While computer vision is being adopted by more organizations, the benefits are not widely understood and used to their full potential. This white paper highlights top research findings to make it easier for employers to leverage this technology to better identify root causes of workplace incidents and keep their employees safe on the job.”

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