Technologies and digitization have transformed the ways we work and collaborate. In fact, more so than ever in recent years, driven by advancements in automation and data analytics. This has led to dramatically increased productivity, while minimizing costs and injuries concurrently.
But for most businesses and their employees, workplace safety will remain a huge focus and talking point, simply because it requires constant vigilance. The truth is workplace safety is just as relevant today and here is why.
Rising manufacturing sector’s safety concern
Globally, there were around 2.3 million deaths attributed to work in 2014 alone, according to the Singapore Workplace Safety & Health Institute. Of those, 15% is categorized under accidents and occupational injuries, which can usually be prevented.
Fast forward to 2016 in Singapore, the manufacturing industry accounts for most workplace-related injuries followed by the construction industry. This is a worrying trend as manufacturing powers many of the world’s leading economies – take China, for example.
Creating a safer working environment
Thankfully, we are seeing more and more smaller agile robots replacing huge traditional machinery. They are robust and highly adaptable, and can be quickly redeployed for a wide range of jobs.
These collaborative robots or cobots are noticeably “uncaged” too, allowing them to operate side-by-side their human co-workers in close proximity. This unusual human-and-machine combination offers the best of both worlds: the precision and speed of robotics, married with the dexterity and ingenuity of people.
Cobots are just part of an expanding smart workplace ecosystem featuring enhanced safety features. Meanwhile, new safety system and technology, realistic training, and a safety-first culture are just as crucial.
Automated safety systems
Omron NE1A series safety network controllers
A new generation of powerful safety network controllers is now available for manufacturers to put together an automated safety system. Some even support multiple inputs and outputs to connect different sensors and safety components like relays and switches. Selected models, like the Omron NE1A series, also include networking function, enabling remote real-time monitoring via software.
Smart autonomous robotics
Another potential game changer is Autonomous Indoor Vehicles (AIVs) like the Omron Lynx. They are at the forefront of robotics. These AIVs can detect obstacles and self-navigate in tight spaces utilizing a suite of onboard laser and sensors. The Lynx, featuring a proprietary SLAM technology, can localize and map its surroundings, quickly and automatically too.
AR and VR for safety training
For the longest time, traditional safety training is conducted through passive training materials from videos to handbooks. By exploiting augmented and virtual reality to inject a new level of realism and interactivity, any trainees can soon practice real-life emergency measures within the safe confines of a virtual environment.
Safety mindset and culture
Above all, workplace safety should be an integral aspect of a company’s culture, supported by all the key stakeholders within the organization. Meanwhile, international regulatory bodies and country-level agencies like Singapore’s Workplace Safety and Health Council (WSHC) are also championing a slew of initiatives to promote a safer working environment.
360-degree approach to safety
Workplace safety transcends beyond technologies. It encompasses standards, culture, and training too. We expect workplace safety to remain a hot button topic for the foreseeable future despite the rise of artificial intelligence and machine-learning.
With an end-to-end suite of Industrial safety solutions and products with enhanced safety features, Omron is well positioned to help businesses excel in both health and safety. Remember, employees are one of the greatest assets for any enterprises, giving you a distinct competitive advantage.