For safety management and the profession to progress, the information horizons must broaden. Particularly in Australia, safety research runs the risk of developing upper-class chinless inbreds as, in many cases, it is divorced from reality and often does not look beyond the horizon both in distance or time. But research work in other disciplines may have applications in the safety profession.
The work of a doctoral student at the University of Technology Sydney (UTS), Xun Wang, may provide some indication of new tools that safety & HR managers could be using in the future.
Risk management software has existed for some time but many of the packages have evolved from basic databases and judgement criteria provided by Standards. These softwares have similarities to the booming accounting software packages by being number-crunchers more than anything else.
Xun’s work with artificial intelligence (AI) is leading to practical applications that could be harnessed by safety professionals to operate at a higher level than established risk management softwares. Xun says
“My research centres on using artificial intelligence to capture management information and model risk more effectively – certainly a priority interest for IBM… The goal is an intelligent advisory application that can model a company or organisation and its environment.
“Dealing with various risks in a consistent manner is very difficult and laborious in complex and dynamic environments such as the foreign exchange market.
“I’m drawing on AI research in uncertainty management to develop intelligent software tools and agents to improve risk management in decision making in uncertain and dynamic environments.
“Computer applications for managing finances are now commonplace, the next step is intelligent information systems to manage resources and business decision making.
“I spent quite a few years in industry doing programming and wanted to do something practical with a real-world application…”
Safety and risk management must be multi-disciplinary to be effective. Perhaps Xun’s work in AI could provide a second opinion to safety management decisions in the future.