Computer Vision AI's role in pandemic recovery

3 min read

By Salman Chaudhary, CEO, Empiricai

Manufacturing businesses often don’t have the option to work from home. Factories and plants need employees in the workplace, and on production lines, to keep the business running, supply chains flowing and money coming in.

The threat hanging over manufacturers is a workforce COVID outbreak that massively disrupts production lines and output. In the worst-case scenario, unnecessary risks build up and force the facility to close its doors for good.

Faced with this dilemma, manufacturing managers need to have greater visibility and control over COVID-safety and compliance in the workplace. Ignorance certainly isn’t bliss and real-world information is needed. Screening employees at entry, implementing social distancing guidelines, providing Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), and administering ‘track and trace’ is just the starting point. The real challenge is knowing whether employees are actually complying with the rules and minimising the risk of asymptomatic employees in the workplace.

Technology to shine a light on COVID ‘grey areas’

While managers do not have the ability to watch all areas of the factory at once, many workplaces already have CCTV systems in place.

Technology, more specifically Computer Vision AI, can use these existing CCTV cameras to monitor safety guidelines compliance. This means manufacturing businesses can use their existing security and surveillance infrastructure, without needing to invest in additional expensive equipment, to shine a light on COVID grey areas.

Computer Vision AI provides employers with the visibility they need to ensure that the workplace is COVID-safe while minimising disruption to the business. It works with the existing video feeds to monitor:

  1. Employee non-compliance: Whether social distancing guidelines are being complied with, when the workplace reaches its maximum capacity and if employees are failing to wear the correct PPE, in real-time.
  1. Workplace ‘hot zones’: Where additional measures can be taken, including areas with high rates of traffic that make social distancing challenging, or identify particular areas where employees may be unaware that PPE is needed.
  1. Screening for symptoms: Whether employees with high temperatures are accurately screened upon entry to the workplace.
  1. Smart cleaning: Where areas of high traffic and usage may require frequent cleaning, as well as identify areas with low traffic which may require less frequent cleaning.

Managers need to be aware of the grey areas before they can create clarity. The above violations or ‘hot zones’ can easily be missed by the naked eye but picked up regularly by technology. By replacing manual monitoring with computer vision software both managers and employees can be assured that technology is collecting accurate information on the current state of workplace safety.

Technology does not miss a beat, it does not take holidays, lunch breaks or sick days, meaning it is constantly monitoring the workplace. Computer Vision AI can highlight key areas of concern and allow management teams to take action rather than missing the issues altogether, removing human uncertainty or even human error.

Take action to reduce COVID risk

By using software, management teams can get a real-time view of how many guideline violations are happening across the workforce, the numbers and types of violations in a particular area or a team, and any violation ‘hot zones’. Managers can then use and analyse this data to understand why violations may be happening and act quickly to introduce new measures and ensure employee safety.

To avoid employee non-compliance measures could include the re-education of employees, whether a particular team or the workforce as a whole and physical notices or posters to remind employees of the regulations. To remove COVID ‘hot zones’ managers could implement physical measures that allow social distancing and avoid overcrowding, and remind employees where PPE needs to be worn. Finally, to catch potential symptoms early, thermal cameras can scan workplace entry points for high temperatures before employees reach the production line.

The only way to prevent workplace infection is to monitor social distancing, PPE compliance and workplace overcrowding 24/7. The advantages of Computer Vision AI and having accurate information means management teams can control and reduce the risk of the virus across the workplace without disrupting the factories performance and output.

Technology can help managers assess their potential workplace COVID risks, and give them the tools to act quickly and specifically to reduce the risk to the whole workforce. It’s essential to keep employees safe, productive and the workplace open and Computer Vision AI is now a powerful tool for ensuring manufacturers’ pandemic recovery.

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