UK health and safety: are we armed and ready for a digital future?

By Karl Simons OBE, Chief Futurist at FYLD

Digitalisation is rapidly changing health and safety as we know it. Those who choose to embrace digital as a fundamental part of their health and safety strategy have an opportunity to improve occupational safety, transform processes and strengthen project outcomes.

“So why isn’t everyone doing it?” you ask.

The pace of digitalisation: international differences

Health and safety differs in every corner of the globe. Whether it’s core systems, safety cultures or regulations, it’s rare to find two countries that are the same across the board. The rate of technology adoption and digitalisation in health and safety is no different.

Arguably at the forefront of the digital business revolution is the Middle East, an incredibly fast-paced part of the world where countries are rapidly adopting cutting-edge digital technologies. AI, for example, is projected to make a significant impact on organisations across the region by driving greater efficiencies through automation.

The UK, however, is lagging. BT’s state-of-the-nation report, ‘The Future In 2020 Review’, shone a light on the current take-up of digital technologies amongst UK businesses and their future investment plans, with one third having no plans to invest in new emerging tech over the next five years.

According to the EIB’s 2020 report, ‘Who is prepared for the new digital age? – Evidence from the EIB Investment Survey’, the US is ahead of European firms in the adoption of digital technologies, particularly in the construction sector where US adoption rates sit at 61%, and just 40% in the EU.

Technology adoption in construction

Let’s zoom in on construction, renowned as a sector reluctant to innovate. As a high-volume, low-margin global industry squeezed by labour shortages, rising material costs and project time constraints, it’s no surprise that technology investment isn’t exactly at the top of the list.

According to GlobalData’s ‘Trend Insight: Technology in Construction, 2021′ report, 45% of global respondents identified limited financial gain in the short term as a barrier to investment, followed by a lack of financial resources allotted for technological innovation (36%), a lack of sufficiently skilled labour (34%), and a lack of awareness of new technology (28%).

Fast forward to 2023. Which country is now making the most progress in adopting technology across the construction sector?

How is the US, UK and Middle East rolling out these technologies effectively to empower a digital safety culture?

Join me on the latest episode of FutureTalk where I’m joined by Global Executive Director HSEQ and Non-Executive Director, Benjamin Legg, as we discuss how the UK construction sector’s digital evolution is fairing against the US and Middle East.

In Futuristic Health and Safety: Is the UK Armed and Ready?, Ben and I also chat about each region’s strengths when it comes to construction, cultural challenges to technology adoption, and the skillsets needed for now and the future of construction.

Stream now using the player below or on your favourite podcast platforms and subscribe on Apple, Google or Spotify to be notified of new monthly episodes so you never miss a beat.