An expert system for the development of a health and safety policy/risk assessment in the plastics industry
Health and safety policies are the cornerstone and a frame of reference for positive prevention of occupational accidents and diseases. The Health and Safety at Work, etc Act 1974 makes it a legal duty for employers to prepare and revise a written statement of a general policy with respect to the health and safety at work of employees as well as the organisation and arrangements for carrying out that policy. Despite their importance and the legal equipment to prepare them, health and safety policies have been found, in a large number of plastics processing companies (particularly small companies), to be poorly prepared, inadequately implemented and improperly monitored. An important cause of these inadequacies is the lack of necessary health and safety knowledge and expertise to prepare, implement and monitor policies. One possible way of remedying this problem is to investigate the feasibility of using computers to develop expert system programs to simulate the health and safety (HS) experts' task of preparing the policies and assisting companies implement and monitor them. Such programs use artificial intelligence (AI) techniques to solve this sort of problems which are heuristic in nature and require symbolic reasoning. Expert systems have been used successfully in a variety of fields such as medicine and engineering. An important phase in the feasibility of developmet of such systems is the engineering of knowledge which consists of identifying the knowledge required, eliciting, structuring and representing it in an appropriate computer programming language.