The Safety Compass CEO on how AR will make a real difference to workplace safety

By Team Intellect SEEC

Feb 01, 2018

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According to Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2015, 4,836 American workers [1] went to work and did not come home. The Safety Compass, a company that’s pioneering workplace safety technology is all set to change this.

Adam Poole, the Founder, and CEO of The Safety Compass

Adam Poole, the Founder and CEO of The Safety Compass, himself sustained a significant injury when he was working as a motor mechanic. He knows firsthand the toll a workplace hazard takes on an individual and the family. The passion and energy Adam and the team at Safety Compass have toward workplace safety is palpable. Intellect SEEC partnered with The Safety Compass in 2017 to provide access to workplace safety data for our clients. We believe that as workplace safety becomes increasingly preventative, workers’ compensation insurance too will change dramatically. By rewarding safety data with lower premium prices, insurers have an opportunity to prevent workplace accidents and save increasing number of lives.

Adam shares his vision with us to create a world where everyone comes home from work. In our discussion with Adam, we dive in to understand how technologies as novel as augmented reality (AR) and as familiar as the smartphone are making workplaces safer.

Intellect Exchange: Tell us about the inspiration for The Safety Compass Adam: Despite complex health and safety management systems, audits, inspections, training, inductions, safe operating procedures and many other forms of information people still go to work and sustain injuries. And workplace injuries are traumatic by nature—lacerations, crush injuries and being hit by moving objects are common. In the U.S., no less, private industry particularly, nonfatal occupational injury and illness incidence rate is 2.9 cases per 100 full-time workers! [2] And the United Nations states that a safe place to work is a fundamental human right, so what are we doing to help in this space?

The Safety Compass is designed and built for people at the frontline—people operating chemical plants, people working on railroads, people providing power to cities and neighborhoods, people everywhere! It provides the link between the complex systems used to manage risk at the conceptual level and the people who are actually at risk. It gives context to the information by breaking it into bite-sized pieces and giving it to people when and where they need it the most.

Safety Compass was one of the first products to use augmented reality to keep people safe. We custom built an AR platform and tested it on oil fields in southern Iraq, wind farms off the coast of Denmark, and manufacturing sites all over North America. Using existing hardware – our smartphones – we launched a product that’s as easy to use as holding your phone up to a work area.

“Managing workplace safety is as easy as holding up the phone to a work area”

Intellect Exchange: What are the opportunities to collect different types of hazard information in a manufacturing company?

Adam: Hazard identification and management already occurs in many manufacturing environments, we’re making the access tvvo that detailed information much more accessible for those people at risk – frontline workers – and allowing hazard information to be almost crowdsourced using smartphones. Hazard information can include specific mac hinery information via our beacon integration, energy sources and their operation or site wide risks such as chemical storage areas or areas with noise restrictions. The Safety Compass app is customizable to an individual site, so the amount of data you can engage with is huge.

Intellect Exchange: What kind of results have you seen with The Safety Compass app?

Adam: We’ve seen that The Safety Compass can be deployed almost anywhere, from wind farms in the North Sea to restaurants in New York. We’re looking at how people engage with safety information via our analytics engine, and we can see that people are logging into Safety Compass, adding hazards, viewing hazard detail and acknowledging the information presented most of the time. We have seen some gaps between the number of hazards viewed and the number of hazards acknowledged so it’s very easy to set a baseline for improvement in these situations. We are working toward improving workers’ engagement with hazard information, which consequently reduces the number of workplace injuries.

Intellect Exchange: AR is currently a novelty. How can you put this technology in the hands of real workers and make them safe?

Adam: We have always had the people working on the frontline in mind, so a lot of research and experimentation goes into the design and functionality of Safety Compass’ features to ensure they have suitable use in the field. Part of our research has been the identification of additional features our audience would like to see, so research and development is an ongoing practice. We’ve already made enhancements to Safety Compass based on direct input from frontline workers. By using smartphone hardware, we can also deploy at scale anywhere in the world to reduce the barriers of hardware accessibility and cost.

Intellect Exchange: How are new AR technologies/SDK making the user experience better?

Adam: We built Safety Compass from scratch, and there have been restrictions in the types of devices you could use as additional sensors were needed in the hardware itself. The accuracy of GPS information has also been an issue on a case by case basis – we use assisted GPS and have recently integrated beacon hardware to alleviate this but it took a lot of work!