Compliance commentators have recently begun talking about how Artificial Intelligence (or AI) may impact compliance requirements. This may sound space aged: will robots be filling out your OSHA injury records? Hardly, but as some articles note, the ability to process large amounts of data, such as employee records, incident reports or other information that might be tedious to humans, can have a huge impact on compliance efforts. In fact, that’s why some people are putting AI at the top of the “Hype Cycle” for 2018 and beyond; because it can “make sound judgment scalable. Observe patterns. Learn from patterns. Apply and test guesses. Draw inferences.”

Artificial Intelligence involves machines “thinking” – that is, using information to create data that they could take action on. That’s not too far from how compliance officers work: they gather information, through incident reports, collect them into databases or software apps, and find trends to take action on to ensure that a company follows health and safety regulations.

The best compliance systems are those driven by data to help spot trouble areas before they become problems. However, humans are still needed for areas of judgment. And workers’ compensation claims, like any kind of litigation, involve telling a narrative about the accident or injury. In fact, all compliance involves marshaling facts to tell a regulator your company’s decision making around workplace compliance and potential accidents.

AI has the highest ability to work in financial compliance, where large amounts of transactional data need to be digested and reported.  But AI can also be immensely helpful in OSHA Compliance.  For worker’s compensation, new applications can use AI to help process claims and set rates.

And AI can also help with risk management. In October of 2017, AON Benfield partnered with an analytics company to create technology with predictive analytics for the workers’ compensation field. AON is a risk management firm based out of London. Their new application, using AI, also can predict which cases to prioritize. This kind of predictive modeling can help extend not just compliance but also risk management up from HR into the executive level. With clear data points and reliable predictions, executives can reduce not just workplace injury risk, but also any reputational risk that could be associated with accidents.

In the summer of 2017, Microsoft announced that it was working on AI to help with OSHA compliance. According to reports of it, Microsoft plans to network cameras, mobile devices and software to keep track of employees and help prevent accidents in the workplace.  This new software can also locate equipment that could cause a workplace injury. This is where AI and workers’ compensation will be heading in 2018 and beyond: blending the data-gathering with data-analysis in real time to direct compliance managers, and others, to key areas to focus on. And the future seems to be that new AI applications can do all of that through a single platform.

Even more importantly, AI may be able to improve and shape business processes. One of the hottest trends in SaaS in 2017 was group workflow and business process systems like Process Street.  Those companies gathered workgroups together into one platform that then allowed for refinement of business processes, like intake on a workers’ compensation claim, over time and from multiple people in an organized method.  If AI can run in the background of workers’ compensation, providing real time information to HR and others involved in safety programs and compliance, it could have the potential to impact both compliance in terms of directing resources to the highest priority, while also providing feedback on the process of responding to those high priority cases.

Separately, automation (and intelligence related to automation) can impact worker’s compensation by holding the promise of having the more dangerous or high incident positions be replaced with automated machines.  If a safety officer can use data and incident reports to identify the specific jobs that have the most potential for severe injury, automating those jobs can change the calculation of premiums for your business by reallocating humans from the higher risk jobs to lower risk jobs. And by reducing the higher risk jobs, its possible that workers’ compensation premiums could be reduced. This could be especially true in companies with employees that have construction-related class codes. Lower workers compensation premiums to be paid by the company could allow more room in the budget to contribute to benefits or other needed areas like cost of living increases.