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The Role of Surveillance Cameras in Workplace Safety and Accident Investigations

  • When you consider a video surveillance system, your initial thoughts are likely of loss prevention and identifying potential intruders. However, video surveillance can take on an additional role of monitoring your business for safety concerns – for the sake of accident and injury prevention, as well as accident investigation.

    Expanding the scope of your video surveillance can be largely beneficial to your company, your employees’ safety, and your bottom line; but using video surveillance for these purposes does come with some additional points to keep in mind. Read on as we discuss some applications of video surveillance cameras in the workplace, as well as some trickier points to keep in mind.

    How Can Video Surveillance Benefit and Improve Workplace Safety?

    There are a few main areas where video surveillance can provide substantial benefits outside of the more traditionally regarded use of video surveillance – monitoring for criminal activity:

    Compliance – Video surveillance provides a tangible way for businesses to make certain that their employees are following procedures appropriately and ensure that your team is adhering to policies.

    Monitoring the workplace with video surveillance in this manner allows companies to visualize what’s really happening in their facility, and take better control of employee safety by taking action on concerning situations; whether it be with new policy and procedures, equipment changes, or improving employee compliance.

    Investigation – In addition to providing valuable feedback in regard to compliance and identifying hazards, the use of video surveillance can provide important information in accident investigations.

    If an incident occurs, video footage can be reviewed to provide insight into the cause as well as help determine what can be changed in order to reduce the possibility of the same thing happening again.

    Video surveillance is also useful in the investigation of repeated accidents and injuries. If there is a particular piece of equipment or a specific task that is resulting in a high number of accidents or injuries, video surveillance can help determine if there is a mechanical problem with the equipment that needs repair or replacement, or if it is operator error – and employee training could prove beneficial.

    Training – The saying “seeing is believing” certainly holds true when it comes to safety training. Reading a report on safe use of equipment and what can go wrong is far less effective than seeing actual video footage of where something has gone wrong, and identifying where following proper procedures may have prevented the accident.

    Management can also utilize this video to gain important insights on what additional training may be needed for their employees to prevent a recurrence. Unless there is an equipment malfunction, accidents usually occur due to the operator either not following procedures in place, or the employee may not have been trained properly. This information can help in the development of new training standards and policies.

    What about Privacy Concerns?

    When considering the use of video surveillance in the workplace to monitor employee activities, it’s important to recognize the employee’s privacy rights and your state’s privacy-related laws. In general, as long as you can demonstrate a legitimate need to record, the areas under surveillance are public (this determination varies from state to state), and employees are aware they are being recorded, legal cases regarding using video surveillance are likely to be upheld if taken to court.

    With this in mind, however, it’s important to remember that people value their privacy rights. Being aware of privacy laws and sensitive to employee’s privacy and comfort is essential. For example, some states like Connecticut have privacy laws in place that ensure, on top of keeping restrooms and locker rooms off limits from cameras, employers may not use video surveillance in other “rest or comfort areas” such as employee lounges. Even if the law allows, unless you foresee these comfort areas presenting a true safety issue, it may be best for privacy’s sake to keep these areas camera free.

    When used appropriately, video surveillance can be a powerful tool in accident prevention and investigation.

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