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Technical Safety BC, the independent, self-funded organization that oversees the safe installation and operation of technical systems and equipment in B.C., has released its latest state of safety report. The report for 2020 outlined the work and findings of the group that had to quickly adapt the unprecedented pandemic challenges.

“We had to look at our operations and see how things were going to work,” said Catherine Roome, the group’s lead executive officer. “We went to 100% remote assessments so clients didn’t have to have the extra bodies onsite. This meant we had to ask them to do some extra work which wasn’t always welcomed but in the end we arrived at a good balance.”

Digitization during COVID

Now that the pandemic has begun to decline in the province, the group intends to keep doing remote assessments 25 to 50% of the time.

The report shows that during the COVID-19 pandemic, Technical Safety BC was able to increase their presence in the safety system in 2020, conducting over 45,000 assessments, with 20,300 of them being conducted remotely. This is versus 40,000 safety assessments conducted in a typical year.

This was possible thanks to the organization’s use of data, analytics and artificial intelligence (AI).

The thousands of photos of inspections could be fed into the group’s artificial intelligence system to help it better recognize problematic scenarios. The data could also be used to help teach.

Roome said the pandemic also allowed the group’s proprietary predictive algorithm to work more closely in tandem with inspectors. She said algorithms will never replace having a set of human eyes on something, but it does help significantly reduce the group’s environmental footprint and help augment the inspection process.

The system gives inspectors its assessment of if it thinks a site will have hazards and how serious it thinks those hazards might be. In the past few years the AI system has increased its learning by 200%.

According to the report, in 2020, there was a 3.49% decrease in injuries compared to 2019 and a 9.5% decrease in the number of incidents reported.

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