COMPUTER VISION: AI ENSURES WORKER SAFETY IN INDUSTRIAL AND CONSTRUCTION SITES
Technology company Agmis launched a Computer vision solution to improve worker safety in high-risk working conditions. The companies currently testing the solution note that it has a lot of real-life potentials.
The solution monitors security camera footage and identifies hardhats, high visibility vests, work goggles, shoes, and even special protection belts that are required for workers working at high altitudes.
Solution by Agmis can also monitor vehicle and person access onto company premises, monitor construction worker movement in the construction site, identify if construction materials are optimally laid out, identify certain worker actions – such as when worker requires assistance – and measure the exact time for performing certain manual tasks (for example, welding).
When a solution identifies a worker without prerequisite safety equipment, the software notifies the site safety manager in real-time. Information about safety protocol breaches is also saved into a database and can be utilized for the investigation of workplace accidents.
“Integration and customization of the solution for particular company need costs between 1000-3000 Eur. The monthly licensing and support fee is in the range of 1000 Eur” – notes Simas Jokubauskas, Head of Products at Agmis.
Simas Jokubauskas, EasyFlow CEO
Mr. Jokubauskas identifies construction sites and warehousing as the most high-risk work environments where the number of accidents is high. However, the solution can be applied for other applications as well – such as mining, stevedoring, etc.
In 2019 Agmis invested 60.000 Eur into solution development. Additional 40.000 Eur are planned for next year. The initial development process took the company approximately 6 months; the ongoing development is aimed at refining and customizing solutions for customer applications.
The solution is currently available as a test kit with the first commercial deployments planned for later this year.
Mr. Jokubauskas notes that although the legal framework for work safety requirements is well laid out and companies have great work safety protocols, workplace accidents are mostly caused by human factors.
“Perhaps the worker took off the hardhat only for a minute. Or unfastened the safety harness working at altitude, as he could not reach the construction materials. Accidents are never planned and happen in a matter of seconds. Safety officers cannot constantly monitor all workplace at all times” – notes Mr. Jokubauskas.
According to Mr. Jokubauskas, in the last 5 years, Computer Vision solutions improved significantly – data can be analyzed using cloud computing, the availability of these resources drove down the costs. In addition, the number of companies developing Computer Vision applications also improved; as had the number of Computer Vision engineers.
“Historically a lot of video analysis and Computer Vision solutions were affordable only to large businesses. Development companies were also eyeing only the market leaders for potential deployment. In today’s technological context Computer Vision solutions become available for small and medium-sized enterprises” – notes Mr. Jokubauskas.
The solution by Agmis is currently tested at three leading Lithuanian construction companies. JSC MERKO STATYBA is one of the initial pilot testers. Saulius Putrimas, the CEO at MERKO STATYBA, gave a positive review for Agmis software.
“The solution is not fully standardized and finalized. However, it has great potential. The construction sites are already monitored by security video cameras. By adding the AI layer to analyze the footage, it improves monitoring efficiency. There are limitations to any technology and tech will not make safety bulletproof. 4-5 years ago we started exploring new technologies for automation, monitoring, and more effective construction site management. Although Agmis solution is not currently a standard in our construction sites, we are testing it, identifying the potential, and could become a standard in the future” – notes Mr. Putrimas.
Mr. Putrimas also notes that MERKO STATYBA has a positive view of AI technologies and hopes that new tech solutions will improve the conservative construction sector.
“We already employ conditional access to the building site system, as well as a breathalyzer system to ensure that workers enter the site are not under the alcohol influence. New technologies are finding their way onto construction sites. However, only the recognition of hardhats or high-visibility vests is not enough; this equipment is a safety standard across all our sites. But AI can be trained to do more: for instance, to monitor specific zones on the site. The number of such solutions is increasing and we are testing a lot of them” – notes Mr. Putrimas.
TECHNOLOGY IS NOT PERFECT YET
Audrius Valatkevicius, Marketing and Communication consultant at JSC MITNIJA construction company notes that AI workplace monitoring solutions are relevant and companies are waiting to embrace the technology. However, he notes that such solutions are not yet perfect and business is waiting for further evolution of the technologies.
“AI integration into workplace safety processes is at an early stage. In international exhibitions, we have seen a lot of similar solutions. However, we have yet to see a solution with a high degree of precision and efficiency. We still regard this as a tech of the future. They are not mature enough to fully utilize in daily workplace routine. Thus we are not using such solutions – yet. If we discover that AI safety monitoring has matured enough, we will implement it as it presents a lot of potentials” – notes Mr. Valatkevicius.
He also notes that the number of workplace accidents on construction sites is on the decline, as companies are investing in traditional preventive measures such as better worker training. However, he agrees that they do not eliminate human factors.
“IT and AI technologies would help a lot. If the software can identify and notify that a worker is not wearing a hard hat or protective gloves in real-time, the safety officer could react instantly. It would improve oversight and reduce the accident risks significantly. I am sure that technology companies will perfect this field as there is a huge demand for this globally” – notes Mr. Valatkevicius.
Agmis’ Head of Products Mr. Jokubauskas also notes that companies outside Lithuania are driving the interest for the solution. Approximately 70% of Agmis services are exported. Mr. Jokubauskas identifies UAE, UK, and the US as the most promising markets for this technology.
STATISTICS OF WORKPLACE ACCIDENTS
The National Work Inspection data shows that in 2016-2019 in Lithuania 21 accident resulted in serious injuries. 3 accidents resulted in the death of employees. The largest number of workplace accidents is in the warehousing sector (24 serious injuries; 5 deaths). This sector accounts for 33% of total serious workplace injury accidents and 18% workplace deaths in Lithuania.
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