Using Computer Vision and AI to Reduce Injuries During Workplace Evacuations

    May 12, 2022

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    Written By
    Bella Reed

    When emergencies occur in the workplace, many employees find themselves to be woefully unprepared. If your organization isn’t regularly reviewing, practicing, and modernizing its safety approach to emergency events, the results could be catastrophic---to employees and their families affected by death, injuries, and compensation loss and to the company’s physical assets, productivity, and reputation.


    Fires in the workplace


    In the US, office and commercial structure fires cause on average 95 deaths, 1200 injuries and over $2.4 billion in property loss each year. A 2014 study conducted by Staples demonstrates that over 50% of all US workplaces are not adequately prepared for fires and other emergencies where an evacuation is necessary. Accidents may be inevitable, but proper planning, training, and resources are critical in order to minimize the risk of death, injury, and loss of property. While some incidents are inevitable, minimizing the risk of deaths, injuries and property losses is not. The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) cites fires as the main reason for workplace evacuations. A survey conducted by Staples in 2014 showed that 50 percent of all US companies are unprepared for fires, workplace evacuations or other emergencies according to their employees.


    On December 18, 2021, the largest structure fire ever recorded in North Carolina’s history took the life of 21-year-old Kevon Ricks. QVC, the company that owns and operates the plant where the fire occurred, stated that everyone had safely evacuated and all employees were accounted for. Kevon’s family had to find out that the beloved son and father passed away in the fire days after the incident. 1 death, 2000 employees laid off, and 1.2 million square feet of property damage.


    How Kogniz helps with fire evacuations


    Now, imagine a scenario where everyone could’ve been evacuated within minutes if security cameras had detected and sent warnings the moment the fire began, a mass notification sent to everyone working in the building within seconds. If someone didn’t respond or check in at an evacuation point, another alert goes out to the unaccounted for employee and to colleagues to ensure that someone hasn’t yet exited the building. The Kogniz platform can let you know exactly how many people are still in the building, or in a specific area, in real time. In fact, the platform gives users the ability to pull up a dashboard showing the names of those that have already evacuated, and those that have not. That dashboard can be shared with firefighters or other officials to access real-time updates on who still needs help. In emergency situations like fires, every second counts.


    Today, that’s possible with computer vision, AI, automated workflows, mass communications, and two-way communications. Computers can process camera feeds and recognize when something’s wrong or be integrated with other fire safety systems like alarms and smoke detectors to easily make the workplace safer for everyone.


    Active shooters in the workplace


    Though rare, shootings in the workplace have been on the rise. A study conducted by the Society for Human Resource Management shows that 1 in 7 employees do not feel safe in their workplace and OSHA estimates more than 2 million people are affected by workplace violence in the US each year.


    Through mayhem and chaos, it is possible to minimize casualties during active shooter evacuations. Computer vision and AI can help detect firearms brought on site and automatically alert security resources to potentially deescalate a situation before it turns violent. With the right platform, you can send that data to emergency response professionals, as well as the number of people still in the building (or in a specific area) and how many people have exited or entered the building before, during or after the incident.


    Most companies do have emergency evacuation protocols in place for active shooter events but how can you be sure of how many people are still in the building and who they are? This information can be useful not only to you and your employees but also to law enforcement.


    How Kogniz helps in active shooter situations


    The Kogniz platform can offer solutions to help better protect you, your employees and your company in the event of an emergency evacuation. Gun detection, mass notifications, a two-way communication platform, configurable workflows to follow your procedures, shareable data dashboards and more are tools that you can use with our platform. As an employer, it is your duty to make sure all your employees are as safe from hazards within the workplace. And implementing Kogniz’ solutions is the first step in ensuring that you’ve done everything possible to keep employees safe and have the tools to help law enforcement should incidents occur.



    Learn more about how to prepare with our free fire safety and evacuation template and 3 Ways to Prepare to Prevent Active Shootings on-demand webinar.

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