There are 14 job-related fatalities every day in the United States of America, according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. For the year 2019, workplace injuries and fatalities averaged 2.8 per 100 full-time workers, making it a rising concern for businesses and employees across the country. The rising incidences and gaps in workplace health and safety are not only garnering the attention of experts and employees in the field; it is attracting the attention of tech giants.
In a bid to reduce the cost of workplace accidents in the workplace (U.S. companies pay out $62 billion every year for workplace injuries), and protect their employees, more companies are capitalizing on the use of technology to improve health and safety in the workplace. From the use of wearable safety technology to the addition of drone technology in employee labor rotas, technology is not just changing lives but it is also improving health and safety in the workplace.
Wearable Technology Being Used To Manage Worker Stress Levels And Potential Hazardous Workplace Behaviour
Wearable technology is by no means a new concept. In recent years, technology like fitness smartwatches and body cameras have garnered a devoted following as essential wellbeing tools. By 2022, it is estimated that the wearable technology market will double and be worth between $27 to $60 billion. When it comes to worker health and safety, consulting firm Deloitte believes the technology will continue to play a large part in improving industrial operations and safety.
For instance, a Verdantix report in 2018 showed that 58 percent of employees industrial wearable tech as a key component in risk management initiatives of the future. According to FVF Law, many employers still do not implement standard safety guidelines in industrial environments. In most industrial industries like the oil and gas or mining industry, every employer is required to protect employees from harm. This is a key point in industrial accident cases which can help to relieve employers of the legal responsibility if they can prove they implemented reasonable safeguards, including wearable technology.
So how are businesses using wearable technology currently to improve worker safety on the job? Many companies are using the technology as a critical part of their corporate wellness programs. Wearable tech can range from safety monitoring wristbands to body cameras and safety helmets. A good example is the SmartCap which tracks employee fatigue levels. Used mostly for long-haul truck drivers, the Smart Cap transmits data to the driver’s monitoring team which can then alert the driver to stop, avoiding a potential vehicle accident. Similarly, the use of health tech wearables is being used to monitor employee stress levels- an emerging problem for industries across the country. Each year, job stress causes companies $300 billion in health costs, missed days, and poor productivity.
Virtual And Augmented Reality Technology Improving Employee Safety Training With Real Life Simulations
A common recommendation to prevent workplace injuries is to implement a robust and proactive employee safety training program. By using virtual reality safety training, employers are amplifying their employee training programs to be more real life. The result of this is a workforce that is more prepared for safety issues and accidents, thanks to hands-on experience. By simulating situations instead of traditional PowerPoint presentations and employee safety training manuals, the chances of error became smaller while on the job. In recent years, several high-risk industries including chemical processing and mining have adopted virtual reality employee safety training. In Chemical Processing, there is Invensys’ Immersive Virtual Reality Plant which simulates potentially dangerous scenarios for employees during training, without endangering their safety. Mining industry, virtual reality technology is being increasingly used. In 2019, Innan AB developed safety training programs that successfully simulated mining environments and common accidents. The software is now widely used across the globe.
Drone Technology Are Being Used To Reduce Employee Risk In Dangerous Jobs
Drone technology is improving worker safety through the use of commercial drone technology. A great example is the Mine Kafron Drone which is used to map and destroy landmines. In addition to significantly reducing the chances of worker injuries, drone technology can also be 20 times faster and cheaper than traditional labor-intensive methods. The mining industry has long been one of the most dangerous jobs in the country. While there have been improving safety regulations aimed at mining, the job remains fraught with risks. In fact, mining machine operators have a fatality rate of 3 times more than the national rate.
This is not the only way drones are improving working conditions for employees. They are also being used for worksite inspections- a critical part of boosting worker safety and health. The use of drone technology can help supervisors survey a worksite for potential risks ahead of sending in employees (particularly applicable in the construction and mining industry). By identifying risks through imaging, supervisors can then take corrective action to reduce the chances of common workplace injuries like job site falls or slips.
At the end of the day, workplace safety should be a concern for all. Protecting employee wellbeing will not only benefit the company but it ensures workforce longevity and better operational control. On the bright side, the advances being made in technology are making the task much easier. The only question that remains is, which technology is best for your workplace safety concerns?