OHS Canada Magazine

It’s a tech world, but rules still apply

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February 4, 2020
By Marcel Vander Wier

Compliance & Enforcement Health & Safety Human Resources Young Workers Astros Ethics PPE safety Technology

Considering a new technology? Don't forget to check your ethics

The Houston Astros sign-stealing scandal shows there’s a firm line between an innovative mindset and breaking the rules. (kpeggphoto/Adobe Stock)

If you’re anything like me, seeing the year 2020 stamped on the top of this column is still a little startling.

We’ve outlasted Marty McFly’s exploits into the future — and then some. And much like the bold predictions of the Back to the Future trilogy, the world we now live in is firmly tech-driven, featuring hoverboards, drones and exploits in virtual reality.

Trust me, when even my 74-year-old father is using his personal tablet to surf the local Niagara news, technology is here and it’s here to stay.

I find it fitting then, that our first issue of the new decade dives deep into technology usage within the health and safety industry.

Training is one area expected to endure a major overhaul. And while it will take time for virtual reality to seep into every part of the profession, it’s highly apparent that traditional classroom learning centred around lectures will one day be a thing of the past.


That’s a good thing — especially with my fellow millennials starting to fill up the working ranks of most Canadian companies.

Then there’s the greater tech takeover of the safety profession, including heavier usage of drones and wearable PPE. CRSP Christopher Hurley’s column states it outright: Adopting more technology should be a New Year’s resolution for all OHS professionals.

Here in the OHS Canada newsroom, we’re taking the tech plunge. Our new podcast channel “Safe Zone” launched in January with our first episode exploring — what else? — data sharing within the safety profession.

Wider adoption of this innovative practice could kick-start a new era in safety, where organizations partner to share data and statistics to better forecast the risks facing workers. Data sharing is just one great example of how tech can assist safety professionals in their never-ending pursuit of worker protection.

Playing fair

Implementation of technology isn’t problem-free, however. If you’re a baseball fan such as I am, you were likely floored to find out just how far the Houston Astros took technology usage in recent years as they used all available opportunities to steal pitch signs and win games.

The first major sporting story of the decade clearly shows there’s a firm line between an innovative mindset and breaking the rules.

The lesson is that ethics need to remain front of mind as you consider opportunities to implement technology as a competitive advantage. Human rights, privacy stipulations and other workplace rules of play must be adhered to.

It does not mean you can continue closing your eyes to avoid widely available solutions such as wearables simply due to fear of the unknown.

While safety professionals may be late adopters to 21st-century technology, the time has arrived.

Your first implementation doesn’t have to be virtual reality. But your next round of safety training could include an e-learning opportunity.

Welcome to the future.

This editorial was published in the Jan/Feb 2020 issue of OHS Canada.


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