Our CEO, Salman Chaudhary talks to the Building Engineer Journal about how Computer Vision AI signposts a way for construction sites to return to full productivity quicker post lockdown and change workforce attitudes to health & safety.
“According to research by McKinsey, more than 60% of workers, including those in the construction sector, reported inadequate safety in their workplace when considering all factors, not just the pandemic. In fact, more than half of the respondents have concerns regarding their physical health in the workplace.
Some of the safety concerns voiced by workers, understandably, have come about due to COVID, and these have the potential to have a long-term influence on confidence. In a muted recovery, it could take up to five years for the most affected sectors to get back to 2019-level contributions to GDP, according to the research. This is against a re-active approach to tackling the spread of COVID by the majority of businesses - lack of monitoring of social distancing or whether workers are wearing a face mask - can lead to exposure of workers and consequent disruption to the business, should a localised outbreak occur.
Worker concerns around health & safety have been shown to have a major influence on confidence and that can impact productivity. However, turning this on its head can present an opportunity for businesses who are prepared to address the issues - creating a workplace where people feel safe can result in a step change in attitudes and efficiency.
A technological approach
Artificial Intelligence (AI) powered Computer Vision is rapidly becoming the technology that is having the single largest impact on workplace safety. AI is already being used in many aspects of our everyday lives such as self-driving cars, web searches, customer service helplines and self-parking vehicles. Its uses are expected to become widespread within the construction sector. In fact, anything that requires round the clock monitoring, or frequent manual inspections, or involves repetitive tasks, is a good candidate for by Computer Vision AI.
Integrated into on site CCTV systems, Computer Vision AI is able to carry out real-time monitoring and detecting of any non-compliance of social distancing, correct PPE/mask usage and occupancy guidelines. Immediate, configurable notifications and email alerts on any type of safety violation are built into system such as our WorkSafe Analytics, allowing prompt actions on ensuring the well-being of the workforce. Metrics outputted from the system show a range of visual prompts including hourly % violations, average distance between people, pictorial evidence of non-compliance, daily alerts and section-wise trends. This approach can be used for a wide range of applications on construction sites, ranging from checking that safety harnesses and other PPE is being worn, through to automatic monitoring of skills cards.
AI within the health & safety sphere works by feeding the platform with information about all the elements depicted in the image and which are relevant. The capabilities of AI means that it ‘learns’ to identify the point of interest via Computer Vision, for example, a safety harness, and will outperform even the most experienced health & safety professionals in identifying potential risks. Humans, will, of course, be the ultimate decision makers, meaning the technology is used as an augmented intelligence that is capable of raising alerts whilst relinquishing health & safety operatives from the monotonous task of collecting data from the workplace.
However, collecting data is only part of the story. What you do with the data counts just as much. Our approach is to focus on simplicity and accessibility of the data reporting to make it accessible to anyone in the business, so helping to engrain a health & safety culture at all levels. Making everyone in the business part of the solution – and helping them to understand the data – works best.
We recently deployed our Computer Vision AI solution, WorkSafe Analytics in a manufacturing site. The system, which leverages existing surveillance/security assets, comprises 19 indoor cameras covering control rooms, engineers’ offices, and operators field offices, along with eight outdoor cameras covering workshops, product/bag loading area, and entrance gate.
The Computer Vision AI carries out employee headcount at the entrance gate, whilst at the product loading area it completes ongoing bag counts. Uses in the workshop and plant operating areas include PPE compliance and asset monitoring.
As well as enabling a safe return to full productivity after lockdown, WorkSafe Analytics provides the management team with rapid and targeted insights into areas that require improvement.
Using Computer Vision AI technology gives a comprehensive view of workplace safety by providing real-time Compliance Monitoring and EHS Policy Decision Support. It is a solution that is highly effective at addressing health and safety concerns in the workplace by detecting, alerting and reporting on social distancing, occupancy monitoring, PPE compliance and mask detection. One of our customers experienced an 80% decrease in non-compliance (social distance guidelines) within their first month of installing Computer vision AI, effectively reducing the risk of infection by half.
AI works best when it is designed and ‘trained’ to accomplish specific tasks, such as workplace health & safety. The technology is now at a stage where it can teach machines to be better than humans in these areas, particularly for monotonous tasks. These are predominately analytical in nature, so visual observation of staff social distancing or wearing of safety harnesses, along with logical decision making on when to sound an alert.
Historically, health and safety and risk management aspects within a business often relied on visual observation, an approach that was prone to human error, inconsistencies and distraction. Computer Vision AI platforms overcome this because they are taught to recognise hazards and non-compliance from many single pictures. The benefit for construction businesses is that it engrains health & safety at all levels and creates a workforce that feels more confident, which translates through to greater productivity and improved staff retention.”
Find out more about WorkSafe Analytics