AI at work – Mitigating safety and discriminatory risk with technical standards


The use of artificial intelligence (AI) and AI methods in the workplace holds both great opportunities as well as risks to occupational safety and discrimination. In addition to legal regulation, technical standards will play a key role in mitigating such risk by defining technical requirements for development and testing of AI systems. This paper provides an overview and assessment of existing international, European and German standards as well as those currently under development. The paper is part of the research project “ExamAI - Testing and Auditing of AI systems” and focusses on the use of AI in an industrial production environment as well as in the realm of human resource management (HR).

The opportunities of AI in the workplace include e.g., efficiency and quality gains in hiring processes [1], or improvements in safety through AI-based safety functions for robots [2]. On the other hand, we have identified several risks of possible discrimination, particularly in people analytics [3] as well as risks for occupational safety for workers [4].

Therefore, rules ensuring AI systems to be safe and non-discriminatory are required for both the development process as well as the application of AI systems. On the EU level, the proposed AI Act and the updated Machinery Regulation (formerly Directive) provide a legal framework for AI regulation and certain aspects of anti-discrimination law, labour law, privacy law, contract and competition law or the civil code do apply. Nevertheless, technical standards will play a key role in shaping the framework conditions and substantiating them. Standards are intended to describe the state of the art and to guide the development and use of technology as well as the design of the associated processes.

This paper is designed to be the starting point for further considerations on the role and integration of standardisation in European AI regulation. We start with further background information on the potentials and challenges of AI systems in the workplace. Then, in section 2, we explain the role of technical standards and their connection to legal regulations. In section 3 the scope of the analysis is specified. Section 4 is the heart of the analysis – a detailed assessment of existing AI standards and those under development. Then, section 5, concludes the paper by highlighting the most promising standards to be revised with AI specific amendments.

[1] P. Tambe, P. Cappelli P, and V. Yakubovich, “Artificial Intelligence in Human Resources Management: Challenges and a Path Forward,” California Management Review, vol. 61, no. 4, pp.15-42, 2019.

[2] N. Najmaei, M. R. Kermani, “Applications of Artificial Intelligence in Safe Human– Robot Interactions,” IEEE Transactions on Systems, Man, and Cybernetics, vol. 41, no. 2, pp. 448-459, 2011. doi: 10.1109/TSMCB.2010.2058103.

[3] K. Zweig, M. Hauer, F. Raudo- nat, “Anwendungsszenarien: KI-Systeme im Personal- und Talentmanagement,” Gesell- schaft für Informatik e.V., Berlin, 2020.

[4] R. Adler, J. Heidrich, L. Jöckel, and M. Kläs, “Möglichkeiten und Grenzen von Anwendungen künstlicher Intelligenz in der Produktionsautoma- tisierung,” Gesellschaft für Informatik e.V., Berlin, 2020.

06. September 2021

Nikolas Becker, Leonie Beining, Pauline Junginger, Lukas Martinez, Daniel Krupka