Is telematics the answer to your H&S woes?

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The recent health and safety changes sparked concern for many employers across New Zealand but – according to one industry expert – there’s a certain tech development that could make meeting the requirements much easier.

Occupational safety consultant Brent Sutton said that when organisations assess the level of risk in their business, assumptions are often made which paint an inaccurate picture – but telematics could help clear things up.

“Lots of organisations are using risk management models that are highly subjective and what telematics does is it gives us a true understanding of how people interact with hazards,” said Sutton, a principal at Safety Associates.

Sutton was speaking at an ANZIIF conference earlier this month when he praised the increasingly popular tech, often used to track and send information about movement and location.

“Cameras can count how many people operate in that area, and how many interactions there are between moving parts of plant and equipment that work in that area,” explained Sutton.

“Those cameras can detect where you want people to work on machinery and where we don’t want them to work around machinery,” he continued.

The Auckland-based expert pointed to a high-profile incident in which an Affco worker was impaled on a meat hook while cleaning the equipment.

“The company said it had a safe operating procedure that dictated when this particular line was being cleaned the line was turned off, which is a good way to eliminate risk,” said Sutton.

“What is interesting is that when they looked at all the CCTV footage, the line had never been turned off, it had always operated live whilst being cleaned,” he continued.

Sutton explained that while Affco has identified the risk and put measures in place, the company had never monitored it to know how the risk was being managed.

“Telematics would have clearly identified that,” he stressed, adding that the tech can also reveal areas of risk that were previously unknown.

“What telematics is telling us is when people are congregating in areas or where things are forcing people to move into these zones of a factory where they are more at risk,” he said.

“From using telematics, organisations have now got true probability counting and have actually changed how they work. That could never have happened in normal circumstances because regardless of how many observations you do you would never have seen it.”

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