Legal Responsibility In The Automated Era

With our workforce moving towards automation, we can expect that some of our health and safety expectations and regulations start to change. However, like all new integrations, forming adequate and thorough regulations will take time.

The rise of automated workforce 

Businesses have been looking for solutions that allow the work that they carry out to be more efficient and accurate, as a result, an automated workforce has slowly been integrating into different industries. 

While technology has been one of the biggest drivers for automation, we have seen automation being integrated into our everyday even more so during the past year, due to the pandemic

Tasks that were once deemed safe for people to use are now considered unsafe due to hygiene reasons. Supermarkets have employed more robotics in order to keep the environment safe for us during this trying time. 

Human error vs machine error

The British government estimates that 1.5 million jobs will become automated in the future. The main concern surrounds the job opportunities this might take away from people, but also raises further questions regarding safety. 

With automation still being in its early days, it is no wonder that people still feel skeptical over their reliability and accountability. 

Unlike their human counterparts, robots are programmed to perform specific, routine tasks. There may not be much adaptability should something in that routine changes. This is where humans do have the upper hand in recognising the fault or issue and proceeding to find a solution to fix it. 

Who is responsible?

As alluded to in the previous section, even the most technological robots will have times when they fail to follow the instructions programmed into their system, and as a result this may cause human injury or harm. In that case, who would be responsible for the accident? Would it be the business owner’s responsibility or the robot’s manufacturer?

Compare Compensation Claims’ latest campaign shows an example that helps explain a hypothetical situation of how an automated workforce might let us down, and if in the case of health and safety issues arise who might be responsible for it. 

Waiters and Waitresses

The campaign looked at one of the most likely jobs that might be replaced by automation – waiters and waitresses. 

While AI will increase productivity and efficiency in delivering food and drink orders, there are concerns over whether the AI might be smart enough to deal with accidental spillages.

Unlike humans, the robot may not know how to respond to a spillage, their inability to react and solve the issue may cause a person to slip and injure themselves. 

In this case, the restaurant will be responsible for the accident. If a customer is the one who gets injured, they will make an occupier or a public liability claim; if an employee gets injured an employee liability claim will be made.

This article hopefully gives you an idea on the implications of implementing an automated workforce, as there are still quite a lot of grey areas it would be wise to consult an expert for more in-depth and up to date advice.