Whether you're following standard OSHA laws or their newest guidelines, choosing one of the innovative approaches to safety below can allow you to meet these in addition to going beyond what is expected.

Top Safety Innovations in Manufacturing
Top Safety Innovations in Manufacturing

Cristi Waterson

Whether you're following standard OSHA laws or their newest guidelines, choosing one of the innovative approaches to safety below can allow you to meet these in addition to going beyond what is expected. They may also create a way for a given safety program to improve itself over time.

In numbers, work accidents cost people over 70 million productive days in 2017 alone. They also cost the economy nearly $162 billion. This is a far-reaching effect that will impact not just workers and their families, but their employers and the overall health of the economy as well.

In addition to safety for all workers being a noble goal, it's also one that will leave your business, company, or person in better standing that they might be without these innovative tools and services. Few people would prefer to be injured and claim workers compensation over doing an honest day's work, should they feel safe during that job.

 

AI and Machine Learning

AI, when implemented in a manufacturing setting, can perform several routine tasks at little cost and with higher frequency. When it comes to safety, this can be invaluable.

For example, AI technologies currently excel at scanning and reporting errors in a given pattern. Practically, this means that if an AI were given the task of watching over a given machine or assembly-line process, it could catch a variation in that machine and flag it for maintenance. It could also flag specific products or parts of the process for quality control or other concerns. This can help prevent accidents before they happen.

With machine learning, it's possible for the same AI that may have been purchased to maintain or watch over a given machine or process to learn, virtually on its own, to scan other objects for trouble. While this isn't available to all yet, the ability for AI to enable predictive maintenance is.


 

Adaptive Education

With online learning modules and AI enabled data collection, it's possible to ensure that everyone on a given manufacturing team has completed the training they need to when they need it. Instead of having group training that can interrupt an entire workday, these modules are typically hosted online and can be completed during a specific time frame.

With adaptive education, each person's education record and history can be incorporated into the program. In this way, everyone is kept up-to-date on just what is relevant to them, when they need to learn something or be reminded.

 

Wearables

Wearable devices have made leaps and bounds. Not only are there GPS-enabled safety devices that all link up to a central hub, allowing you to track the movements of each worker. Some of these devices can also monitor heart rate, environment temperature and composition, and other situation-specific factors.

In addition to providing immediate safety benefits or getting help right away in case of an emergency, these wearable devices can help collect data that can improve processes overall. This includes safety routines.


QR Codes and Labeling

While it would be ideal for a set of labels and symbols to impart all of the information needed about any hazard, these types of things frequently fall short. Yes, they can provide immediate warnings about a given danger, but they rely heavily on the knowledge a person has already retained on how to handle a hazard or whatever circumstances arise from interacting with it.

Now, with scannable QR codes and other AR features added to labels, workers can use their phones to quickly scan a name and then be walked through the process of dealing with or avoiding a given hazard. Safety checklists can be incorporated, as well as check-ins. Further, other information may also be included, such as first-aid or other emergency information, like a contact number, that may not be known or remembered in a crisis.


Drones and UAVs

While most often used in construction, drones and UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles) have also been used extensively in the mining of all kinds, or to survey tall or roof-mounted machinery for errors and other maintenance issues. They may also be used to study any given area and, in combination with AI, can scan for safety issues and different variations in a given pattern in the workplace.

However, drones can also create their own safety issues if not operated professionally, with their environment taken into account. Though often made of light materials, you don't want them accidentally falling onto a worker or into a machine if a part breaks or they run out of battery.

 

The content & opinions in this article are the author’s and do not necessarily represent the views of ManufacturingTomorrow

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