It shouldn’t surprise us that AI chatbots could bring value to safety. Safety professionals and employers must demonstrate their safety efforts through procedures, risk assessments, investigations, inspection records and other safety documents. A common refrain within the profession is, "If it wasn’t written, it didn’t happen." Writing can be problematic because it takes time, and writing well takes even longer. Time-strapped supervisors and safety professionals often struggle to keep up with the administrative demands of their roles.

Since ChatGPT’s release late last year, I’ve been thinking about how this technology will impact safety on construction sites and how it might change how construction safety professionals approach their work. AI technology has been rapidly embraced across numerous industries and is quickly starting to be integrated into software applications - the number of which is already too great to quantify. No doubt, we are in the early days of AI’s emergence and time is still needed to differentiate between uses of AI that are novel yet insignificant and those that will bring lasting value.

In these articles, I will discuss AI's implementation in construction safety. Since most instances of AI usage are not from the construction industry, I will need to take an investigative approach to assess how AI might help or impede our attempts to keep workers safe. Additionally, I'll explore how this technology affects the work of safety professionals, supervisors, workers and employers as it relates to safety. As we delve into the potential of AI in enhancing construction safety, we will discuss various topics related to this subject, such as:

  • A proposal for the ethical and responsible use of AI in safety
  • How to ask AI good safety questions (aka prompt engineering)
  • Using AI-empowered document analysis on your safety program so your employees can ask it questions
  • Using AI to teach you to build tools you can use for managing safety
  • Using AI image generators to improve your safety resources
  • How AI can help you understand your responsibilities within the safety schedules of your contract
  • What are ChatGPT plug-ins, and what are the best ones for construction safety?
  • What happens if AI takes over document management? 
  • Using AI to analyze accident data to identify trends.

The potential for AI to enhance safety management is exciting. In the future, your employees may interact with an AI in real-time to ask safety-related questions about a specific task. Incident reports might be automatically analyzed so that actionable themes can be generated from them. However, it is crucial to consider the limitations and ethical implications of using AI chatbots in safety management. How reliable is information received from an AI chatbot? Who is responsible for the chatbot's decisions, and who is accountable if something goes wrong? These are essential questions to ask when integrating chatbots into safety management practices. While AI is a powerful tool, we cannot rely on it to replace human expertise and judgment regarding worker safety, at least not yet.