Wearable technology is making the workplace safer. Although many might think of pedometers used to track exercise goals, wearables can do a lot more than count footsteps. They can monitor the wearer’s health status and send out alerts when anything goes wrong. They can even help prevent risks while maximizing work efficiency. Wearable devices can be especially helpful in trucking, construction and industries with a high level of physical exertion and risk.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2.9 million nonfatal workplace injuries and illnesses were reported in 2016. Each incident can lead to lost work, low morale, workers’ compensation claims and other problems for both the worker and the company. Keeping workers safe is a top priority. Unfortunately, a lot of things can go wrong and the effects are not always immediately apparent. For example, workers can get into accidents due to fatigue or drowsiness, they can suffer from heat stroke, or they can react badly to gasses or other environmental exposures. If these problems are not immediately detected, serious injuries or illnesses can ensue. This is where wearable technology can help. Devices monitor vital signs and provide alerts. This makes it easier for managers to verify that workers are safe, even when they’re working in remote locations.
Modern technology can do more than monitor workers. It can also help them avoid danger in the first place. Two very different examples of smart headgear show how this is possible.
- The Deloitte Smart Helmet monitors the wearer’s vital signs as well as other factors including the location and presence of dangerous gases. If early warning signs of danger are detected, alerts are sent. This allows workers to take precautionary measures to avoid any risks.
- The SmartCap is also designed to improve worker safety, but it does so by addressing worker fatigue, a serious problem in industries like trucking. The device both measures alertness and prevents microsleeps. This can help prevent accidents caused by drowsy driving.
While keeping workers safe is the top concern, efficiency is also important. Wearables can help here, too, whether the aid needed is physical or educational.
- Wearable exoskeletons can help workers perform tasks while using up to 60 percent less muscle force.
- An AR solution from Upskill helps mechanics who are working on jet engines, increasing efficiency by 8 to 11 percent.
Wearable technology is still developing, and new applications are being discovered constantly. The opportunities for reducing risk and improving efficiency will only grow as the technology improves.
As you evaluate the major drivers for your workplace injuries each year, ask if there are wearable technologies to help you address key issues. Heffernan Insurance can collaborate and help you identify proactive and revolutionary risk management strategies.