How the Cloud is forcing health and safety improvements

How the Cloud is forcing health and safety improvements

According to the Health and Safety Executive, manufacturing is the third most dangerous industry in the UK.

There are an average of 22 fatalities and 3,100 major injuries caused by workplace accidents a year, based on data gathered over the last five years.

Contact with moving machinery is regularly up there as one of the main causes of fatal injuries. Workers also suffered injuries as a result of falling from height or being struck by a moving or falling object. According to RIDDOR, around 10% of the fatal accidents in manufacturing in 2018/19 were caused by an employee being trapped under something collapsing or overturning.

Other non-fatal accidents were caused by lifting and carrying, slips, trips and falls or striking against fixed or stationary objects.

How Cloud-based manufacturing solutions could help

Could tech have the answer to reducing accidents, injuries and deaths in the manufacturing sector? One innovative manufacturing company thinks so.

Fractory is a cloud-based sheet manufacturing platform established in Estonia, but is now based in the heart of Manchester’s most exciting tech hubs – Barclays Eagle Labs.

Its mission is to digitise manufacturing, using a hand-built platform which runs on proprietary algorithms. The startup, which won Best Use of Tech at the UK Chambers of Commerce Business Awards 2019, initially struggled to find existing models to achieve their vision. So, they created their own algorithms to automate and shorten their sheet metal manufacturing processes. 

The rapidly growing Fractory team aimed to streamline manufacturing, starting with giving engineers access to instant pricing. Engineers simply need to upload their CAD files to the cloud-based platform for an immediate price, without the need for human involvement in the decision-making process.

How does this help health and safety in manufacturing? In the simplest terms, it minimises the need for human interaction by automating processes.

Pioneering cloud-based models such as this could help manufacturing to move away from reliance on manual processes. This could lower the risk of workplace accidents – for example, by reducing the need for human interaction with high-powered manufacturing machinery. With fewer workers on the shop floor, and more working behind the scenes to drive automated programs, this could reduce accidents and make the industry safer.

At the very least, an automated approach could prevent more of the minor, preventable accidents highlighted by the HSE. For example, the 9% of accidents caused by lifting and carrying in 2018/19, or the 36% of slips, trips and falls. If these accidents occurred during work that could instead be handled online, it could save employees a great deal of pain and time off work.

But would this mean a loss of jobs for UK and global manufacturing, as companies increasingly switch to robotic and automated processes? Not necessarily, as there is likely to be a greater demand for digital skill sets. If manufacturers aim to embrace automation, including cloud-based processes, they’ll need a highly skilled team of specialist IT and tech professionals on-board.

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