The SAPA and its consequences
Earlier last year, South Korea passed the Serious Accidents Punishment Act (SAPA). The objective is to avoid major accidents in the workplace by holding both owners and managers accountable. It lies semi-parallel with the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) of 1970 in the US and the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 in the UK, whereby both place the overall responsibility of maintaining a safe workplace on the employer.
As the SAPA will soon take into effect on January 27, 2022, companies are scrambling to set up health and safety management systems and other preventative measures for the work environment. With good reason, too, as owners and managers risk severe punishment if they have been found to be negligent in their duties. Depending on whether there is a fatality or not, they may face up to 7 years of imprisonment or criminal fines up to USD900,000.
The SAPA is currently sweeping its way across Korean markets. One of the hardest hit is the construction industry, where a lot of owners are resigning from their posts and appointing professional managers in their stead. Larger companies are also undergoing major organizational changes to establish a Chief Safety Officer and a dedicated safety team to handle such critical affairs. But the struggle and panic are most felt in SMEs as not all organizations have enough resources to hire safety managers, let alone teams.
Banking on technology
Many companies now turn to AI and imaging technology to address the risks and gaps in the safety environment of their workplaces. Professor Park Chan-sik is a professor of Chung-Ang University (CAU) and has been advocating for construction safety and hazard prevention since the start of his career. Professor Park is pushing for a Smart Construction Worker Safety Management System (iSafe) that can automate the monitoring of construction sites and workers. With such a system in place, up to 80% of construction accidents can be prevented.
Professor Park says, “According to the statistics of the Occupational Safety and Health Agency, 2018. Every year, 485 people die at construction sites. That's an average of 1.5 people per day. The country's 350,000 small-scale construction sites are still inexperienced and a safety blind spot for older workers. We need smart technology because the government cannot inspect all of these sites.”
“The system uses an AI-based visual imaging technology that creates a 3D replica of the site or what you call a digital twin. Then, position, biometric, and environmental sensors are installed at the site. We are also developing an AI that learns the risk data, analyzes site conditions, flags potential hazards in advance, and determines any regulation violations.”
“A solution like Beamo’s digital solution would be essential so that all these components may work together to provide a viable solution that seeks to prevent accidents, rather than punish violators."
Park Chan-sik, Professor, CAU
He continues, "40% of accidents can actually be detected beforehand. But with the use of Beamo for remote management of sites, the remaining 60% of accidents that have been previously undetectable can also be prevented.”
“In addition, you can also use Beamo for education purposes. Before now, no one actually read the safety manuals, so delivering information was always a problem. But with Beamo, workers can have direct access to these information and safety materials.”
Digital twins for health and safety
CAU is currently working with Beamo and using the solution to plan and manage demolition projects. It takes a lot of preparation for a building or any infrastructure to be demolished. With Beamo, demolition teams can take progressive captures of the site to monitor progress remotely, document inspections at each stage, and collaborate with team members. The application of digital twins is not just limited to demolition projects but may also be applied to typical construction projects. Eventually, CAU is looking to integrate the AI solution with Beamo’s platform.
With Beamo digital twin solution, companies can upload and contextualize health and safety protocols and procedures, properly document and tag onsite hazards, and remotely train workers before they step foot on site. This is to ensure that employees are knowledgeable and well-equipped before entering potentially hazardous locations like construction sites, power plants, or industrial factories.
And with the use of digital twins as a highly interactive, immersive, and extensive documentation of workplaces, companies now have evidential records of the working conditions and safety measures in place. This will be especially useful in case of lawsuits where high fidelity digital twins of a worksite can be presented as concrete proof in front of a tribunal that proper steps have been made to protect workers and prevent accidents.
“For companies that struggle with hiring a new health and safety team, having digital twins helps mobilize your existing resources as experts and leverage digital twins for health and safety training, remote monitoring, and progress tracking. The best thing is that it’s easy for anybody to create digital twins using our Beamo solution. With just a smartphone and a 360° camera, you can capture your site in minutes.”
Naresh Parshotam, Head of Beamo, 3i Inc.
About Chung-Ang University | www.cau.ac.kr
Chung-Ang University is a private institution with 30,000 students and 982 faculty members. It consists of 10 undergraduate colleges and 16 graduate schools. It operates two campuses, in Seoul and Anseong, Korea. Fully accredited by the Ministry of Education of Korea, CAU offers a wide range of bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral programs including a law school, global MBA programs, and a medical school.