Safety wearables are quickly becoming the go-to fix for ergonomic injuries in the workplace, but their injury reduction capabilities extend further.
It’s no secret that certain workplaces present risks to their employees. Whether it be a retail warehouse, a construction site, an automobile manufacturer or any other facility that requires a high level of physical movement, workers are inherently at risk of injuring themselves. And despite promising trends in injury rates around the world, there is still more work to do.
The most common workplace injuries are ergonomic-related — employees everywhere tasked with lifting, pushing, pulling, etc. strain their bodies if they are not careful — and over the past few years, safety wearables have risen in popularity as a go-to solution.
With sensors monitoring and recording dangerous movements, haptic feedback alerting employees in real time and data insights optimizing workplaces for safety and efficiency, wearables have been remarkably successful in reducing ergonomic injuries in the workplace.
But there are more risks to address, and there is more to wearables than ergonomics.
The hottest topic in environmental health and safety this season is heat risk. The CDC, NIOSH and OSHA have all released statements encouraging employees to consider additional precautions to prevent their employees from heat-related injuries and illnesses while the temperatures rise in the summer months.
All contend that workers exposed to extreme heat, or those who work indoors in hot environments, are at risk of heat stress and, as a result, occupational illnesses and injuries such as heat stroke, heat exhaustion, heat cramps or heat rashes.
“Heat is the leading cause of death among all weather-related phenomena, and it is becoming more dangerous as 18 of the last 19 years were the hottest on record,” according to OSHA.
There are a number of ways to tackle heat risk, such as hydration, acclimatization, smart scheduling and proper training on the dangers, but it is still an extremely difficult task to undertake. That’s where wearable technology steps in.
In addition to collecting ergonomic risk metrics, wearable sensors can also gather highly critical environmental factors to consider when assessing the potential risk your workers face on a daily basis.
Temperature metrics — together, commonly referred to as “heat index” or “real feel” — are collected on an individual level every minute throughout the workday and later paired with ergonomic data to unlock another valuable layer for incident reduction and operational insight understanding — all displayed through temperature specific reports.
By employing safety wearables for temperature data, you can analyze elements of risk within your facility and intervene accordingly. Identify vulnerable workers, compare job functions, correlate safety trends with heat risk and so much more.
Management tools unlock deeper insights
With safety wearables, gone are the days of clipboards, checklists and handwritten notes capturing the safety trends of a warehouse. Data captured by wearables further unlocks the safety potential of a facility through detailed and insightful EHS organization and management tools.
Rather than one set of eyes manually observing employees to ensure safety consideration, gathering a handful of safety insights on individuals at specific moments in times, wearables do the job more efficiently and more completely, like an individual personal trainer for each worker.
Managers can also view personalized profiles for individual employees, identifying who is at risk and who is working safely, in addition to all-inclusive applications allowing managers to take pictures, capture notes and much more from feedback meetings.
In short, the data insights delivered by safety wearables open up a world of management tools that can be employed to grasp an umbrella understanding of safety in a facility and assist in driving long-term solutions for future risk reduction.
In fast-paced, highly technical environments, there are plenty of moving parts that are nearly impossible to keep track of at once. With forklifts whizzing by at high speeds, platform lifts raising employees to tall heights, plus an abundance of large, specialized and potentially dangerous equipment operating on the facility floor, despite the inherent difficulty, it is absolutely necessary to have a complete understanding of where accidents can occur to avoid them.
Safety wearables introduce an actionable method of doing this. Using Bluetooth beacon technology (a key differentiation from GPS, Bluetooth does not track location), safety wearables are in constant contact with beacons deployed on hazardous objects to warn employees of potential collisions.
Say, for example, a forklift is preparing to turn from one aisle to another, and in a blind spot another vehicle approaches rapidly. A safety wearable can detect the approaching beacon (beacons are placed around the facility and on hazardous objects as a method of detecting location-based risk), identify the emerging risk and quickly alert both employees of the hazard to prevent an incident.
Beacons can also be deployed around a facility to determine other, more subtle risks that persist. For example, a low shelf may be requiring employees to bend at a dangerous angle consistently, putting their body at risk over time. By correlating spikes in risky movements with locations in a facility, location-based safety technology can create maps highlighting where risks occur, facilitating the identification of a problem and delivering a solution to reduce injuries.
While ergonomic injuries may be top of mind, it’s important for managers to consider other risks a workplace presents as well, and their solutions. As global demand picks up and the workplace advances, so will its risks. To protect employees, it is essential that safety equipment modernize with it.
Safety wearables are the key to this safe yet productive future. Unlock operational insights, monitor temperature risk, avoid collisions and so much more through a small but mighty addition to your operation.
Learn More:Leveraging StrongArm’s Temperature Data for Deeper Heat Risk Insights
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