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Can Artificial Intelligence Help Prevent Workplace Accidents?

Overhead view of an injured warehouse worker on the floor. Two co-workers are checking on him.

Our Workers’ Comp Lawyers Look at the Role AI Can Have in the Workplace

Artificial intelligence technology may be able to prevent workplace accidents and potentially make workplaces safer, according to a recent workplace safety study.

“Not only will it (artificial intelligence) be in the fabric of the future of work, but it’s going to be in the fabric of solutions to the future of work as well,” Jay Vietas, chief of the emerging technologies branch of the NIOSH Division of Science Integration, said in an interview with Safety + Health magazine published by the National Safety Council.

However, it’s important for companies to not simply rely on AI technology to prevent workplace accidents. Such technology should simply serve as an additional safety measure on top of existing safety protocols, according to New York workers’ compensation attorneys who help people injured in serious workplace accidents.

How Can AI Prevent Workplace Accidents?

In recent years, many different companies have developed artificial intelligence devices specifically designed to prevent workplace accidents, according to the Safety + Health article. Three ways AI can help protect workers include:

  • Having machines constantly observe employees while they’re working.
  • Providing real-time, instant alerts to workers about possible safety hazards.
  • Providing more in-depth insights to workers and companies about why workplace accidents happen.

“Our recommendation is, basically, try to understand AI and try to see how it can work for you,” said Houshang Darabi, a professor at the University of Illinois Chicago and co-director of the occupational safety program at the school’s Great Lakes Center for Occupational Health and Safety.

However, it’s important to realize that even the most advanced technologies are not perfect, and a serious workplace accident can still occur.

How Does Artificial Intelligence Help Workers?

There are many specific ways artificial intelligence might be able to help workers. For example, AI devices can detect whether construction workers are wearing protective harnesses and if the harnesses are securely tethered. If not, an AI device could alert someone right away about the potential safety hazard. Such a notification could be life-saving information for employees working on scaffolding high above the ground.

Another way AI can prevent possible workplace accidents might involve measuring if someone’s tired and not thinking clearly. This can be especially dangerous for construction workers working long hours. As a result, workplace safety experts interviewed by Safety + Health magazine suggested having employees in potentially-high-risk professions (construction work, factory work, etc.) complete a simple, 30-second visual puzzle designed to measure cognitive impairment.

Artificial intelligence-enabled cameras can also help prevent on-the-job accidents by helping workers in other ways. This includes:

  • Determining whether an employee’s body position is ergonomically correct.
  • Monitoring whether the safety controls or automatic shutoff devices on equipment are working.
  • Checking on a worker’s location using heat-seeking cameras and alerting co-workers if someone isn’t moving based on heat maps in high-risk work areas.
  • Having workers wear cameras or devices that measure a worker’s body temperature or heart rate, something that could be critical at preventing heatstroke.

In addition, AI can review thousands of workplace accident reports in a matter of seconds, looking for patterns for why certain accidents occur in certain professions.

Why Companies Should Not Just Rely On Artificial Intelligence

While technology can be great, experts warned that companies should not simply rely on artificial technology to make workplaces safer. “In order for an AI system to work, you can’t just bring a programmer in and expect everything to work,” Darabi said.

In particular, simply having artificial intelligence warning systems and other technological advances does not automatically make a workplace safer. Companies still need to do many of the things they have done for decades to protect the health and well-being of workers. Such safety measures include:

  • Provide workers with functioning safety equipment.
  • Train workers about potential workplace hazards.
  • Properly maintain equipment to prevent workplace accidents.
  • Fix defective equipment immediately in order to avoid an accident.
  • Regularly inspect equipment to make sure it’s functioning properly.
  • Educate workers about potential hazards at work.
  • Obey all local, state, and federal workplace safety laws.
  • Report all workplace accidents or injuries to the appropriate inspection agency.

Injured Workers Should Know Their Rights

While artificial intelligence can be a tool to help make a safer workplace, accidents can and still happen, often when people least expect them. And when workplace accidents happen, injured workers need to fully understand the legal options available to them.

In particular, most people can receive workers’ compensation if they get hurt or sick on the job. Such benefits can be a financial lifeline for people who need money while they’re recovering from a workplace injury or illness. However, actually obtaining the compensation you need and deserve can be difficult.

At the Law Offices of Pasternack Tilker Ziegler Walsh Stanton & Romano, LLP, our experienced New York workers’ compensation lawyers can help you every step of the way. We have decades of experience working with injured workers and their families throughout New York. As a result, we thoroughly understand how the workers’ compensation system works in the state and how to fight for the compensation you're entitled to.

Learn more about how we can help if you sustained a serious injury or illness at work. Contact our law firm and schedule an appointment with an experienced New York workers’ compensation attorney focused on helping you find solutions. We have 12 offices conveniently located throughout New York, including five offices in New York City.

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