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Artificial intelligence (AI) working as an assistant to a safety manager is closer to reality than we might think. To set the stage, think about the internet services trend that occurred in the early 2010s: Apps such as Netflix, Spotify and Uber transformed how people approach the world. This trend is underway for AI-assistant technology.

AI assistants help humans solve decades-old problems by initially performing administrative tasks, which is how we train them. Training is an important distinction between programming software and AI. Allowing AI to learn how to complete tasks traditionally completed by people enables it to use automation, pattern recognition, reward systems and working memory to improve productivity.

AI assistants can scan thousands of hazard assessments in your database to identify the 10 that answered “no” instead of “yes” to a critical question, allowing you to focus on this small group anomaly and apply a remedy without the burden of reading every document. The first step is to consider where your safety information is and how it’s stored. AI systems need formatted data structured so that it’s repeatable across all existing records. If your information is currently in file cabinets, spreadsheets, PDFs or Google Docs, it must be structured more consistently.

The process, however, can be costly and take time. For these reasons, it’s more effective to start by digitally collecting new data using purpose-built applications for environmental, health and safety (EHS), human resources (HR) and enterprise resource planning (ERP). Such applications automatically structure and store data, starting you on the path of leveraging AI in your operation.

For now, AI assistants are slightly limited in what they’re trained to recognize in safety. But eventually, they will get to a point where they’ll deliver impressive results, making early adopters of technology far more competitive by huge margins. Putting the proper digital data collection in place today will leave you well-positioned to harness the power of AI tomorrow and separate yourself from your competition when bidding on jobs.


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