The current state of PPE Compliance

 

Since the 1992 Personal Protective Equipment and Work Regulations Act came into force, businesses working in high-risk environments and required to provide Personal Protective Equipment, have been exploring new ways to monitor for compliance in as an efficient a way as possible.

Manually monitoring for PPE compliance among the workforce is still one method employed by many businesses today. There are many issues with this, particularly that human eyes can make mistakes, lose concentration, or simply not be focusing on the right place at that crucial moment. The risks of failing to notice a missing or faulty piece of equipment are high. Not only this, but the work-intensive nature of manual monitoring takes valuable time away from the on-site managers who could be focusing on other important work for the company.

However, as technology has evolved, potential solutions have emerged to help cut the workload. Most businesses now use RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) tags to monitor employee PPE-compliance. RFID tags are a way of tracking protective items via smart barcodes and radio frequency technology. The tags transmit information via radio-waves to the computer, which in turn translates the data into digestible information for the on-sight manager. In short, the tags can track what and when PPE items are being used.

However, while RFID tags are a smart technology that can be utilised in any number of ways, they are limited because they can only tell half the PPE story. RFID may show what protective equipment is being used, but not if it is being used properly. This is essential. What’s more, RFIDs can get damaged or malfunction, and there is no way of knowing in real-time that there is an issue with the data they are transmitting. The next solution in the PPE-monitoring process has to not only monitor WHAT is being used, but HOW it is being used. This is where Vision AI comes to the fore.

 

How Vision AI can transform PPE compliance in 2019

 

At Cortexica, we know that AI and machine learning is the future in PPE-compliance. Our Vision AI solution, called AI-PPE Compliant, can be implemented into any CCTV camera and allows business to constantly monitor PPE-compliance within the working environment. Unlike RFID solutions which require the implementation of a whole new system, AI-PPE compliant enhances existing systems, taking existing CCTV cameras and making them ‘smart’, with very little investment and integration. It flags in real-time not only if equipment is missing, but also if it is being utilised incorrectly. This means that the on-site manager can address the problem straight away before it leads to injury. AI-PPE compliant is trained to recognise a multitude of protective equipment, which allows companies to keep their existing PPE and not have to purchase costly smart helmets or install sensors on equipment and employees. Instead it visually monitors and works in the background with no interruptions to workforce and processes.

The benefit of this is two-fold. First of all, the technology is far more accurate in identifying potential issues, and because it can flag them in real-time, it drastically reduces the risk of injury in the workplace. Secondly, it collects, analyses, and processes the data far quicker than if it was a manual process, allowing those responsible for the safety of their employees to focus on new strategic and innovative ways to improve workplace safety.

In fact, recent research we undertook to inform our white paper: “Overcoming the barriers of PPE using Artificial Intelligence” showed that 81% of health and safety managers believed that AI PPE solutions would increase the speed and accuracy of detecting potential dangers, while 64% are looking to invest in AI continuous monitoring solutions for their business in the near future.

What will be the challenges to implementing AI PPE solutions in 2019?

 

While AI and machine learning are somewhat of a buzzword among businesses and the media, it is important for businesses to realise that AI is not one all-encompassing and overarching solution. It is a constantly evolving discipline.

As such, the real challenge for businesses looking to incorporate AI solutions in 2019 will be collecting the right data to train the system. Cameras need to be in the right place and capture the right data to be effective. With PPE-requirements varied across the different working environments, there is never an off the shelf solution. For instance, the data required to train cameras to identify PPE non-compliance on a stormy oil-rig in the North Sea is very different to a perfectly controlled and well-lit environment inside a pharmaceutical lab.

However, in 2018 we made great progress in training the systems in a variety of different environments. As an ever-evolving discipline, AI by its nature is always learning new tricks. Through tackling different PPE-related briefs (whether they be in construction, mining or manufacturing), our machine learning technology was always exposed to new data – constantly evolving to become quicker and more intelligent than ever.

Due to our considerable work in the sector already, in 2019 AI-PPE Compliantwill be able to  learn and adapt to each unique new brief quicker than anything else on the market, whilst still returning the best results for businesses across many industries.

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