Do emerging technologies have an impact on workplace safety?

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How to find, use, and adapt emerging technology in the workplace to increase safety and health for workers in all industries is what the American Society of Safety Engineers’ (ASSE) November 16-17 “Solutions in Safety Through Technology” symposium and mini-expo will address. The symposium, to be held in Scottsdale, AZ, will focus on new, innovative, and cost-effective ways to solve some of the most difficult problems in workplace safety.

Attendees will learn how to recognize the influence of technological innovations on safe human performance and to reduce losses through software applications, safety process controls, human performance improvement technology, engineering applications, training, and business integration technology.

Chief Science Advisor for the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies Andrew D. Maynard, Ph.D., will talk on “Risks of Nanotechnology: How Do We Prepare for the Potential Biological Impact?” at Friday’s general session. According to Maynard, nanotechnology has been hailed by some as the next technological revolution and is poised to impact every aspect of one’s lives. He notes that, although limited, recent research is bringing into question the use of conventional approaches to minimize the potential adverse biological impact of nanostructured material and will explore what is known about the risks and steps needed to take to ensure the safety of the workforce.

Attendees will also have an opportunity to participate in hands-on workshops, to sample technological solutions to safety, and to view demonstrations of innovative technology solutions to safety issues at the mini-expo of technology products and services for safety. Attendees will also learn how to demonstrate the impact of safety and health programs in terms that other organizational stakeholders understand and can readily appreciate.

The National Museum of American History’s Lemelson Center for the History of Invention and Innovation’s Senior Research Associate Edward Tenner, Ph.D., will deliver the opening day keynote presentation titled “Our Genius is Biting Us Back: Technology and the Revenge of Unintended Consequences.” His discussion will focus on technology and its impact on human behavior and how technology changes us as much as we change it.

Symposium speakers will also address how incorporating technology into products and environments can be potentially dangerous, particularly when people’s physical and cognitive limitations are not a key design consideration. Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute Associate Professor of Psychology Dr. Michael J. Kalsher will discuss human factor principles that help to ensure a match between new technology and the people who use it, noting examples of good and poor interface design. His presentation is titled “Human Physical and Cognitive Limitations Related to Technology: A double-Edged Sword.”

Presenters from around the country will touch on a variety of technology and safety topics such as: assessing the benefits and limitations of technological training solutions; an overview of some of the current technology used in training and a preview of emerging training technology; using video technology to communicate and reinforce safe work procedures; hearing a real-life in-vehicle safety technology success story; building safety into the design of a robotics process; reducing hazards associated with lasers; collecting incident data through a web-based reporting system; emerging multimodal technologies relevant in enhancing combat and civilian system safety; selecting safety technology for construction; and, how utilizing simulation technology in healthcare training and loss control can have a powerful impact on safety.

Attendees will also learn about the most promising emerging technologies for slip, trip and fall prevention and current controversies in the technologies related to pedestrian safety. One session will provide valuable lessons and effective practices from over 100 companies who have implemented safety technology for construction to thousands of field workers the past four years.

The “Solutions in Safety Through Technology” symposium and mini-expo will run from 8:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 16 and Friday, Nov. 17, 2006 at the Chapparral Suites in Scottsdale, AZ. Registration includes 1.4 CEUs/COCs, 2.0 Safety CM points, .63 CHMM CMP and more. Costs for ASSE members registered by October 13 are $525. For more information and to register, contact ASSE customer service at 847-699-2929 or customerservice@[email protected]

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