November 4, 2019

Changing Dynamics in Workplace Health and Safety and Impacts on Personal Liability

We sat down with Catherine Hickey, Safety Product Manager at INX Software, to talk about the changing landscape in the health and safety space, and the role emerging technologies play in assisting organisations in preparing for this shift.
Here are her insights:
1. What do you see as the new risks across industries?
One of the biggest risks in the industry that will take some time to overcome is the new world of autonomy. This encompasses anything from autonomous machines to integrations of technical solutions.  Autonomous technologies generally lead to a lesser need for human intervention, however, we will have to think ahead about how we will train these machines and to compensate for human instinct and experience. We know a competent person is required to carry out specific jobs, yet with autonomous operational machinery how will we approach competencies, certifications and safety training if there are minimal to no human interactions? We cannot truly control the competency component of operational machinery, which raises new risks and uncertainties across multiple industries, including mining, construction, and other complex industries as this technology continue to develop.
2. How can software and technology ensure organisations establish and maintain compliance to international and Australian safety standards?
Technology and systems have changed drastically in the past decade. Organisations have grown from common practices of recording and managing employee records, audits, inspections, hazard mitigation and other tasks with pen and paper or possibly using the Microsoft suite, to selecting suitable digital and more robust programs to manage these and more. Software technologies should be adopted as an enterprise tool to help support and complement the management of people and processes to assist in achieving organisational accreditation and be maintain compliance.
3. What emerging technologies are making their way into daily operations across multiple industries, to improve workplace health and safety in an innovative way?
Smart, wearable technology such as modified hard hats, retina scans built-in to cars and trucks to monitor driver’s fatigue levels, for example, are seen to be changing the landscape of how we view safety practices in a new and innovative way.
4. In your experience, what are the changing expectations around health and safety management and compliance to be in the workplace?
Changing expectations in the legislative workplace health and safety space are enforced by the WHS act and regulations. This means there is now more accountability placed on everyday workers. This has shifted the focus of safety from just safety professionals to require all employees to proactively manage safety or open themselves up for liability as previously described.
The operational landscape of business is going to change with the legislative changes expected to enforce greater penalties on officers and workers, it will be a big change for individuals where previously they were protected from prosecutions. Liability use to stop at board levels higher up the organisation’s hierarchy. Now, individuals can be found liable for breaches of WHS laws and regulations, and risk facing a variety of charges and even imprisonment.
A platform solution can make your work a lot easier, save you from spending too much time on documentation and reporting, streamline and simplify your processes. Having a platform to assist you in managing these can also help in providing greater visibility and monitoring capabilities.
Advances in reporting technology provide the ability for data captured over the last 10 or so years in solutions like INX, to now provide insight and intelligence in less traditional ways to drive more informed decision making. Using combinations of natural language processing and AI to identify risk and apply preventative measures to protect our workforce and others.
Catherine manages the safety stream at INX, develops existing safety products, assists the team in product enhancements, establishes product roadmaps, maintains client relations, and delivers functional demonstrations.
Like what you read? We’re excited to be teaming up with Workplace Law, a specialist law firm focused on providing advice to employers in all aspects of workplace relations, to bring you a co-hosted webinar on Personal Liability under New WHS Laws.
If you want to know more, then don’t hesitate to get in touch with us!
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