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Greater investment in bespoke training, more support for mental health and an increase in evidence-based technology are just some of the things workplace health leaders can expect in future.

APM WorkCare hosted a roundtable discussion on the future of technology in health and safety at this year’s OHS Leaders Summit, inviting Assure Programs and Biosymm to review some of the emerging trends.

APM WorkCare Product and Performance Manager James Meldrum presented case studies of how data and technology had been used to deliver early intervention treatment and management services across, psychological, musculoskeletal and general injury.

“These saved workplaces time, money and improved outcomes and organisational culture,” he said.

Looking at big data, James explained how Origin Energy used analytics to look at the safety of workers on oil rigs.

“It engaged with PwC to understand how to leverage and analyse business and safety data to predict, prevent and report on potential increases and decreases in safety risk,” James said.

“By using machine learning tools to analyse the sensor data from rigs and combining that with contractor data and weather information, we were able to highlight a previously unknown link between the depth of the wells and the chances of incident.”

“In fact, accidents were almost twice as likely in deeper wells. Being able to analyse this information further, which would not have been possible from simple incident reports, Origin could understand the root causes and improve safety to reduce the number of incidents occurring.”

Six stages of using big data

1. Business understanding

This phase involves understanding project objectives and requirements from a business perspective. That is, identifying the health and safety challenges faced by the organization, as well as the approach to integrate the insights from the project into the business operations. This requires, then, setting up an analytics plan to achieve the desired workplace health and safety outcomes.

2. Data understanding

This phase involves the collection of data from safety claims, incidents and observations, HR information, the worksite, and so on. In this phase, the quality of the data is also assessed.

3. Data preparation

During this phase data gathered from the organization is integrated and manipulated with other external data sources (for example, data from regulatory bodies like OSHA) to create an integrated data set for analysis.

4. Modelling

During this phase, various predictive analytical modelling techniques are chosen and applied in order to determine relevant relationships between safety outcomes and operational metrics. By doing so, companies obtain insights into where accidents are most likely to happen and under what circumstances.

5. Evaluation

In this phase, the insights obtained are evaluated and validated in the context of the issue being address (in this case, workplace health and safety). The analytical findings gathered are then presented to the organization for review by a team of safety professionals and company leaders.

6. Deployment

The final phase involves organizing, presenting, and delivering the knowledge obtained in a manner that allows safety professionals and company leaders to use it to improve workplace health and safety outcomes.

Psychosocial risks

Gerard Bevan, Head of Customer Care for Assure Programs, expanded on the topic of emerging technology in wellbeing and injury management, and the importance of mental health support.

“The incorporation of the right psychological support programs can have a positive impact on the culture of an organisation,” he said.

Gerard discussed how Assure used a holistic evidence-based resilience program as part of its delivery of employment assistance programs.

This included details of how employers can use psychosocial risk analysis to build stronger teams and the value in clear, effective reporting.

Find out more about the eight ways Assure can enhance the wellbeing and productivity of a workforce.

Gerard also demonstrated how Assure’s SMS counselling service offers real-time support with a qualified psychologist 24 hours a day, in addition to existing face to face and phone services.

When asked about how privacy is managed when it comes to the health and wellbeing of employees, Gerard added:

“Assure’s Virtual Counselling uses a platform with the highest levels of security and data protection.

“The platform holds current certificates of registration in “Management System for Protection of PII in Public Clouds acting as PII Processors – ISO/IEC 27018:2014” and “Information Security Management System – ISO/IEC 27001:2013”.

“Furthermore they have a 2 Factor authentication for log in. Security measures are in place “at rest” and “at transfer”, and a penetration test is conducted yearly by a third party.

“The SMS gateway is a Twilio (cloud communications platform). Data is stored in a datacentre located in Sydney, Australia in accordance with APS guidelines and the Privacy Act.”

Find out more about Assure’s SMS counselling service.

Telehealth

Greg Borman, CEO and Physiotherapist at Biosymm reviewed the advancements and practical use of telehealth in the workplace today, illustrating the process and hurdles Biosymm needed to jump to bring innovation into the industry via telehealth for physiotherapy.

Greg detailed with Delegates a practical case study where onsite physiotherapy and a telehealth model for musculoskeletal injuries was employed by Bunnings.

The results of telehealth in early intervention are positive, with Biosymm experiencing:

  • More than 5,000 cases and counting
  • 98% stay at work rate
  • More than 92% managed pre-claim
  • Improved productivity
  • Better workplace culture
  • Return on investment in all cases

Exoskeletons

All attending Delegates also got to have a play with and wear an exoskeleton – Exoskeletons designed for supporting manual labour tasks in workplace environments are now commercially available and proving themselves in the field.

Greg illustrated some of the cases where use of SuitX, a particular brand of exoskeleton, has revolutionised workplace safety and performance.

One such example was an eye-level welding task with a 1.1 kilogram tool – use of ShoulderX, SuitX’s shoulder exoskeleton was shown to allow workers to continue the task for 15 minutes before experiencing any fatigue – compared to 2 minutes 15 seconds without any exoskeleton use.

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