Interview with Cam Stevens: Bridging the Digital Literacy Gap in Health & Safety

Published On: November 7, 2023Categories: Health & Safety, SaaS

In today’s fast-paced and technology-driven world, digital transformation touches all industries including the health and safety sector. Digital transformation can represent a fundamental shift in the way organisations operate, harnessing the power of technology to streamline processes, save resources and boost productivity. In the context of health and safety, new technologies empower organisations to proactively identify and mitigate risks, improve compliance and respond swiftly to emerging threats. Despite the substantial benefits digital transformation offers, it also presents some unique difficulties to navigate.

Cam Stevens is a trusted specialist and advocate of the benefits of technology in the workplace and works with organisations undertaking digital transformation projects in health and safety. RiskPal spoke to Cam about his work and the challenges health and safety professionals must overcome when implementing new technologies.

Cam Stevens, trusted voice for SafetyTech & Digital Transformation

Most of the time the technology itself is capable but the capacity to change is lacking.” – Cam Stevens

RiskPal: What inspired you to work in the field of digital transformation in health and safety?

Cam: Very early in my career, I was involved in a safetytech deployment that was an epic failure. The solution was not co-designed with workers, the deployment wasn’t strategic, the user experience was horrible and ultimately the whole exercise was extremely frustrating for everyone. I made a promise to myself that I wouldn’t let that happen again.

Technology is continuing to influence the way we work and is the most unchartered territory for us to explore ways to improve the design, experience, and safety of work. Nowadays my entire work is focused on exploring emerging technologies and how we can leverage them in a responsible way to make work better.

RiskPal: What are common challenges that organisations face when adopting new technologies in health and safety?

Cam: The elephant in the room here is the massive resistance to change almost every organisation experiences when trying to adopt new technologies, particularly for health and safety. Most of the time the technology itself is capable but the capacity to change is lacking. Here’s a bunch of common reasons why: 

  1. Uncertainty and Fear of the Unknown: One of the primary reasons people resist change is the fear of the unknown. They are unsure how the changes will impact them, their roles, or their future in the organisation.
  2. Loss of Control: Change often feels like things are being imposed on people, leading to a sense of loss of control over their environment or their way of doing things.
  3. Loss of Job Security: Employees might fear that the change will make their role redundant or less important, leading to potential job loss.
  4. Potential for More Work: Implementing changes might mean learning new things, which can be seen as additional work or a burden, especially if the perceived benefits of the change are unclear.
  5. Attachment to the Old Ways: People get used to certain routines and ways of doing things. They have emotional and psychological commitments to the status quo, making them resistant to adopting new methodologies.
  6. Misunderstanding About the Need for Change: If the reasons behind the change aren’t communicated effectively, employees might not understand its necessity, leading to resistance.
  7. Lack of Competence: Some might fear that they won’t be able to adapt to the new ways and might feel incompetent, leading them to resist the change.
  8. Bad Timing: If multiple changes are occurring simultaneously or if a change comes at a time when employees are already overwhelmed, it can lead to resistance.
  9. Lack of Trust: Employees might not trust the motives behind the change, especially if there’s a history of ‘top-down’ changes where they felt they weren’t considered.
  10. Organisational Politics: Internal politics can play a significant role. Some might resist change if they feel it empowers a rival faction or diminishes their influence in the organisation.
  11. Lack of Rewards: If there are no visible incentives or rewards (monetary, recognition, or otherwise) associated with the change, employees might question its worth.
  12. Fear of Failure: Both organisations as a whole and individuals within them can fear that changes might not lead to the expected benefits, leading to a potential failure.
  13. Cultural Factors: Sometimes, the organisational culture itself might be resistant to change. If the prevailing culture is one that values stability, tradition, and the status quo, implementing change can be particularly challenging.

You may have noticed that technology challenges were not mentioned in the list… that’s because if you can’t strategically manage the broader context of the change in the business it doesn’t really matter what tech you are trying to introduce. 

RiskPal: Tell us about your Safety Tech Index.

Cam: After working with several clients trying to help them get started with their digital safety transformations, it became apparent that organisations were not adequately informed about the current state of readiness for technology-enabled change in their business.

I created the SafetyTech Index to help organisations to better understand their current state of digital safety maturity and to determine gaps that need to be prioritised into a strategic roadmap. Its an evolving process that some of my more pioneering clients are working with me to finesse.

Digital transformation for health and safety is a complex process that is certainly not linear and there is no recipe for success. The SafetyTech Index and the supporting coaching that I provide my clients is as close to a digital safety transformation playbook as you can find. I’m continually developing new tools to support my clients and I’m looking forward to sharing these once my website is finally finished! Watch this space.

RiskPal: What key innovations in the health and safety excite you right now or what technological developments do you think will have a big impact on our safety practices?

Cam: I’m particularly excited about innovations that are delightful to use; the Leica BLK2GO is an example. Its sleek, intuitive and is an incredible piece of tech that makes spatial mapping so incredibly easy. I also love technologies that don’t constrain you to the small visual and touch-screen real-estate of a smartphone – RiskTalk is an example, they enable you to talk through your risk assessment rather than type it into a mobile interface.

Leveraging natural language processing technologies is changing the game in my opinion. We’ll continue to see exponential use of artificial intelligence technologies, mostly machine learning to start with, and I’m excited to be see the potential that AI will have on the future of work. 

RiskPal: A lot of investment, focus, and attention is going into the potential impacts of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in health and safety. What advice do you have for health and safety professionals trying to prepare for and embrace AI’s potential?

Cam: Embracing AI is not just about adopting the various technologies but understanding its nuances and applying AI systems with responsible innovation. My advice would be:

  1. Educate Yourself: Understand the basics of AI, machine learning, and their real-world applications. Also be clear on your stance with regards to ethics and responsible application of AI technologies.
  2. Start Small: Experiment with no cost/low-cost solutions across a variety of different technology types. Interact with a chatbot, learn how to effectively prompt generative AI tools through trial and error, provide expert feedback to an algorithm that’s being trained.
  3. Collaborate with Tech Teams: Take your tech team out for coffee – ask them questions about what’s trending, get them to explain things to you – find synergies and partner together.
  4. Stay Updated: AI is a rapidly evolving field. Sign up to events, webinars and content about AI, – follow me on LinkedIn too! 😉

At RiskPal, we empower safety and security leaders to drive safety engagement within their organisation. We are dedicated to making safety simple and compliance straight forward. Reach out if you have any questions or need assistance in enhancing your safety and risk management processes.

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