The Stawell Times-News

How technology will improve workplace health & safety in Australian industries

How technology will improve workplace health & safety in Australian industries
How technology will improve workplace health & safety in Australian industries

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The introduction of Industry 4.0 technologies to Australian industries has already held some major benefits for professionals and consumers alike. The potential benefits for boosting production and cutting costs and resource consumption in industries like manufacturing and fabrication, allow Australians to enjoy locally produced goods at lower price points.

Similarly, some Industry 4.0 technologies are also playing a crucial role in supporting the growth and development of particular sectors. For instance, mining safety solutions like sensor technology and wearable tech for site workers, have allowed the Australian mining industry to not only boost mineral yields and productivity, but to achieve this alongside minimising hazards on-site as well.

Today, we'll be exploring just how Industry 4.0 technologies have reshaped health and safety standards in Australian industries, as well as how these technologies are likely to continue improving on organisational processes and operations over the coming decades.

Improving risk mitigation processes

Many Industry 4.0 technologies utilise IoT (or 'internet of things') capabilities in order to detect environmental data that can then be relayed to connected smart devices. Technologies like motion or pressure sensors that are used in industrial environments like fabrication plants or mining sites, allow industry workers to actively monitor site conditions and efficiently detect any variations in environmental data and the causes behind those variations.

The ability to be notified of and then diagnose discrepancies to routine working conditions, naturally allows industry workers to detect and neutralise risks or hazards in the workplace with greater speed and confidence. In other words, Industry 4.0 technologies are innately becoming standard tools in risk mitigation processes for virtually all Australian industries.

The technologies used to bolster risk mitigation processes also differ from industry to industry. For example, wearable technology with tracking capabilities has become a valuable asset in the mining industry, as they allow site supervisors to keep track of site workers and their proximity to high risk areas.

Wearable tech in the healthcare industry, however, boasts other benefits, including measuring vitals for patients, and potentially even delivering stronger diagnoses by using historical data. Even timestamps for physical activity can provide clinicians with crucial information that they wouldn't have had access to otherwise.

All the data derived from wearable fitness technologies and even in-hospital tech can be used to deliver diagnoses, and perhaps even to design preventative healthcare plans for high-risk patients or patients who are predisposed to select medical conditions.

Reducing demand for manual labour

Although Industry 4.0 technologies tend to offer a wide range of benefits, the most common motivation behind the introduction of digital technologies to Australian industries tends to be for the purpose of evolving from a reliance on traditionally manual processes.

Eradicating menial labour from our homegrown production chains and other industry operations, allows Australian industries to not only cut on production costs, but also deliver a higher quality product by minimising the impacts of human error.

Alongside improving on production, removing manual processes also allows industry workers to occupy themselves with more rewarding, purposeful responsibilities at work. In essence, Industry 4.0 technologies are likely to put an end to production line workers whose sole professional purpose can be reduced down to ferrying a product from one stage of its production process to the next.

Does this mean that the introduction of digital technologies may reduce the size of the Australian labour market? Not necessarily, as the handling and maintenance of digital technologies as well as an ability to harvest and understand data gathered by these technologies, will produce a plethora of more technical professional roles that require more training but also offer greater compensation.

On top of this, the introduction of digital technologies also holds the potential to create whole new markets themselves, that will naturally be accompanied by enough new jobs to fill up a whole industry.

This phenomenon for digital technologies to inspire new markets has already been observed in a number of topical cultural trends and phenomena, including the rise of TikTok content creators and even the concept of eSports and professional gaming. Whilst both of these phenomena started simply from experimenting with software, digital content creation and competitive gaming have also been major drivers of tech hardware sales for both consumer and business markets.

Supporting workers in sustaining a work/life balance

Finally, one undeniable benefit of digital technologies that has also been underlying to every other benefit we've discussed today, is that these technologies are essential to industries who seek to streamline their own operations.

As we mentioned, the potential for Industry 4.0 technologies to improve upon organisational processes holds benefits for both supervisors and employees alike, but there is one instance where these separate benefits overlap in a major way: the ability to work from home.

Working from home or maintaining a hybrid work model has become a highly preferable alternative to traditional full-time work models that see professionals working on-site or in-office five days a week. Whilst not all industries were capable of adopting WFH models in the past, digital technologies of today are actually providing a growing number of industries with the means to operate remotely.

Some industries that are now utilising technologies that can be operated and even maintained remotely include the mining industry, print and fabrication industries, and even the agricultural sector.

Machinery like drills, printers, and a wide range of plant machinery can be monitored and controlled using IoT capabilities. Similarly, AI can be used to help industry hardware take on a greater number of commands and functionalities, potentially removing the need for manual programming and thus, allowing industry professionals to perform their respective tasks digitally.

The ability to work remotely is particularly valuable for Australian professionals working in the mining and agricultural sectors. Whilst these professionals may have had to travel interstate for work, splitting time between their worksites and their family home, they now have the liberty to take greater control over their work/life balance, which will in turn, boost rates of job satisfaction across these sectors which may also lead to sector growth in the long term.


In short, digital technologies are allowing Australian industries to transition from the twentieth century through to the twenty-first century. These technologies will undoubtedly pave the way for our major export industries to develop and improve exponentially, allowing GDP growth and potentially even boosting our national standard of living in the process.

We will see over the coming decade the full extent of digital's impact on both Aussie industries and their respective workforces.