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Thomas Ashton Institute for Risk and Regulatory Research

Digitalisation and complexity

How the digital revolution impacting society can be harnessed to continuously improve safety and health and be best employed to assure a resilient working world.

Vision and scope

Image of blue cogs with computer code and lines at edges

The development of digital technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), advanced robotics, widespread connectivity, the internet of things and big data, wearables, mobile device and online platforms, offer the potential for innovation and exciting developments in the workplace, but also present new challenges. By anticipating and addressing the potential opportunities and challenges for occupational health and safety, we can understand the risks and maximise the benefits of such new technologies, while ensuring that working environments are safe. We believe that if well managed, digitalisation can reduce occupational risks, create new opportunities for improving working condition, and thus improve the well-being and productivity of our workforce. This theme is committed to supporting industries to increase adoption of these new digital technologies and maximise the benefits.

Aims and objectives

  • To understand what digitalisations mean for occupational health and safety.
  • To identify the opportunities for digitalisation to shape our working lives and improve workers' health and safety.
  • To identify challenges and opportunities on how health and safety related digitalisation is managed and regulated.
  • To identify key barriers to effective deployment of new technologies and potential practical solutions to increase industry uptake.

Theme leads

  • Helen Balmforth, HSE

Theme membership

  • Akilu Kaltungo (UoM)
  • Andre Freitas (UoM)
  • Bill Collinge (UoL)
  • Clara Cheung (UoM)
  • Gordon Crick (HSE)
  • Hannah Elhamami (HSE)
  • Helen Balmforth (HSE)
  • James Murphy (HSE)
  • Jo Ellwood (HSE)
  • Joseph Januszewski (HSE)
  • Kate Jeffrey (HSE)
  • Kerry Poole (HSE)
  • Michelle Hawkins (HSE)
  • Mojgan Hadi Mosleh
  • Nicola Greenwood (HSE)
  • Obuks Ejohwomu
  • Otto Jan Bakker
  • Patrick Manu
  • Paulo Da Silva Bartolo
  • Robert Ataria
  • Steve Naylor (HSE)
  • Tim Yates (HSE)
  • Tracy Read (HSE)


  • Keeping the UK Building Safely (KUBS) mobilising the resources/capabilities of UoM and HSE science division to help enable UK to build safely at speed – a scoping study
  • Discovering Safety Programme, which aims to improve global health and safety performance using data and insights.
  • TAI named as delivery partner in a £8M NERC grant looking at data integration and sharing awarded to Professor Richard Kingston
  • Patrick Manu has secured internal funding from MACE to recruit a PhD to study construction 4.0 and Health and Safety. Akilu Yunusa-Kaltungo, Paulo Bartolo and Clara Cheung are part of the supervisory team
  • Awarded the joint Manchester-Melbourne Research Fund 2020 to investigate the confluence of industry 4.0 in construction (i.e., Con 4.0) with occupational safety and health (OSH) in construction.
  • Innovate UK Smart Grant– graphene in cement to include H&S and technical aspects.