Health and Safety At Work – AI

Via @willperrin, a statement about the Health and Safety at Work Act in the context of AI (Industrial Health and Safety: Artificial Intelligence:Written question – HL8200, asked 23rd May, 2018):

Department for Work and Pensions
Industrial Health and Safety: Artificial Intelligence

Asked by Lord Stevenson of Balmacara
Asked on: 23 May 2018
HL8200

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the extent to which section 6 of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 applies to artificial intelligence or machine learning software that is used in the workplace to (1) control or animate physical things in the workplace, (2) design articles for use in the workplace, or (3) support human decision-making processes running on computers under the control of the employer with an impact on people’s health and safety; and whether, in each case, testing regimes exist as set out in section 6(1)(b) of that Act.

And the response?

Answered by: Baroness Buscombe
Answered on: 05 June 2018

Section 6 of the Health and safety at Work etc. Act 1974 places duties on any person who designs, manufacturers, imports or supplies any article for use at work to ensure that it will be safe and without risks to health, which applies to artificial intelligence and machine learning software. Section 6(1)(b) requires such testing and examination as may be necessary to ensure that any article for use at work is safe and without risks but does not specify specific testing regimes. It is for the designer, manufacturer, importer or supplier to develop tests that are sufficient to demonstrate that their product is safe.

The Health and Safety Executive’s (HSE) Foresight Centre monitors developments in artificial intelligence to identify potential health and safety implications for the workplace over the next decade. The Centre reports that there are likely to be increasing numbers of automated systems in the workplace, including robots and artificial intelligence. HSE will continue to monitor the technology as it develops and will respond appropriately on the basis of risk.

(By the by, what happened to the capitalisation of the Act name in the answer?)

My idle tweets to HSC on this never got far, so this answer is interesting…

Thinks: one to add to the RSS feed, a standing query on mentions of artificial intelligence in written questions and answers (feed).

Author: Tony Hirst

I'm a lecturer at The Open University, with an interest in #opendata policy and practice, as well as general web tinkering...

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