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New technologies ‘can help to prevent work-related illness’

Almost 3m die every year from a work-related accident or illness

New technologies can help to continue the drive to prevent workplace accidents and work-related illness, according to the president of the global chartered body for health and safety professionals.

Opening IOSH 2019, the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health’s annual conference, Professor Vincent Ho urged delegates to explore how such technology can assist them in their work.

However, he said health and safety professionals must also consider how some emerging technologies can create new risks to working people.

“Ways of working are evolving rapidly as new technologies emerge,” he said. “With this comes new risks. We have to respond and address these new risks and ensure we continue to improve safety and health the world over.”

Ho cited recently-published research into how digital apps can help construction project designers create safer buildings.

Another new research project investigated how virtual reality can provide insights into workers’ behaviour during emergency evacuations, therefore improving safety awareness.

Ho said vast improvements have been made over the past decades in how working people are protected.

As a result, health and safety is becoming increasingly valued by business leaders, who recognise investing in it delivers a “significant return”.

But with an estimated 2.78 million people dying every year in a workplace accident or from illness caused by work, more must be done, Ho said.

“Despite that progress, people are still being injured or killed at work,” he warned. “And people are still becoming ill because of the work they do. We must redouble our efforts and continue to strive for new ways of protecting working people. We want them to be able to return home from work every day safe and healthy.”