With the relentless juggernaut of development of workplace technology across all industries, workers may be apprehensive about augmenting their own smarts with smart tech. IoT and AI are becoming increasingly more common as part of employees' daily lives, and the safety industry is no exception. The rise of smart PPE and systems like the Corvex platform that enable the entire team from management to workers to monitor and predict safety real-time are the future of workplace safety. We believe the more actively workers manage their own safety through the use of smart, connected devices, the more engaged they are and ultimately, the more satisfied they become with their work experience.
But Kelly Peters, a behavioral economics expert and CEO of management consulting firm BEworks, believes the primary challenge in moving into a future where workers have to share their smarts with smart technology will be in helping employees overcome resistance.
In a thought-provoking article Peters co-wrote with Nathaniel Barr for Behavioral Scientist, she discusses in depth the challenges of getting workers to accept AI as a partner. Ultimately the goal of any company looking to augment its workforce with smart devices and/or AI is to achieve optimum efficiency, or in the case of safety, to gather real-time, predictive analytics that can help workers spot and prevent hazardous situations. In this symbiotic relationship, the technology gathers data that's inputted by workers who witness potential dangers, and alerts everyone to an immediate concern.
In some industries, the rise of AI has given employees reason to fear losing their jobs. This isn't the case when it comes to Corvex's connected safety platform - in fact, the platform relies upon human interaction to function optimally, making the worker a vital part of ensuring their own safety and the safety of others on the shop floor, job site, etc. But of the concerns that give rise to friction in workers' adopting emerging technology, Barr and Peters write, "Augmentation requires employees to challenge their conception of what their role can and should be in the workplace—and how their humanity can be redefined and extended."
To a certain extent this applies to workplace safety. Smart PPE and connected platforms definitely challenge employees to take a more active role in monitoring safety in the workplace, and identifying threats and notifying others before accidents occur. We find, however, that workers feel empowered by this engagement.
If this topic interests you, we recommend watching Kelly Peters' informative TEDx talk about applying behavioral economics to real-world challenges, available on YouTube.