A workplace safety expert at Clyde & Co has called for new laws to reflect the rise in automation, artificial intelligence (AI), and the internet of things (IoT).
Michael Tooma, Australia managing partner at Clyde & Co and author of “The case for global regulation of industrial safety,” delivered the message at the Industry 4.01 event at the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) 18th General Conference in Abu Dhabi.
“We've inherited a workplace safety regime designed for human behaviour, but increasingly workplace decisions are being made offshore and via artificial intelligence, heightening the risk of cybersecurity attacks and other threats,” Tooma said. “In Australia, mines are increasingly automated with remote machinery such as driverless vehicles, and drones are increasingly used in agriculture and elsewhere, yet our safety regime reflects the industrial revolution-era concerns.”
Tooma pointed out the “urgent need to adopt new laws which are written for a global economy and with a view to managing the risks of non-human error.”
“AI does not eliminate the risk of human error, but it may magnify the consequences of errors which are made on a global scale,” Tooma continued. “Industrial safety must be regulated at a global level to ensure that the safety of workers is protected in an economy where offshore decision-making is prevalent and where the decisions are not necessarily made by humans."
There are currently efforts towards creating a new UN convention on industrial safety, which Tooma noted “would be a significant step-forward for workplace safety globally.”
The event brought together heads of state, government officials, senior representatives from the UN and private sector, civil society, and academia to develop a partnership approach for achieving Industry 2030.