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November 21, 2016

Wearables: Workplace Safety Is Finally Within Reach

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When wearable tech starting making its debut, it was mostly viewed in the context of luxury. If you wanted to be hyper-connected to your email or were looking for a fancy way to track calories, a wearable device seemed like your answer. But as technology progresses, businesses have discovered plentiful opportunities to turn this concept into something that can be health altering — and even life saving. Here’s a look at some of the ways that wearables are improving workplace safety and minimizing risk for today’s workers.

Awareness for Increased Wellness

It probably comes as no surprise that the most well known wearables are from Apple, including the new Apple Sport Watch. But while this device is known for its elaborate extras, like the ambient light sensor and retina display, some of its best features are related to monitoring health. This lightweight, low-cost, durable watch offers a highly accurate heart rate sensor that can help users stay on top of their heart health. One user even detailed his story about recognizing a serious health problem while at work, thanks to the information he received from his Apple watch. Office jobs are usually not associated with health risks, but this is a good reminder that a wearable like this can help alert office workers to health conditions that may not be related to their jobs, but may still strike while on the job.

Firefighters and Emergency Responders

Some of the most high-risk occupations are firefighters, police officers and emergency responders. So Intel and Honeywell paired up to create a wearable device that taps into the technology behind the Internet of Things to monitor these work environments. The system is called the Connected Worker Solution and uses sensors that are integrated into the wearables that these workers can wear. Based on data that is received by the sensors, a lot of important information — like individuals’ locations and surrounding toxic gas levels — can be transmitted that will help keep emergency responders safe. This wearable also boasts an alarm function that can automatically alert these people to potential danger.

Construction Workers

The construction field is one of the most hazardous, often subjecting workers to devastating injuries and even the risk of death. The good news, though, is that many of the injuries on work sites are preventable if proper technique is used when lifting objects and using tools. New wearable technology is emerging that can track each step, twist and bend that workers perform in order to notify them when they move in subpar ways so they can make changes to prevent injuries. Workers wear wireless sensors, which communicate with the wearable device and transmit key information. Another example of a wearable intended to improve safety is the Redpoint safety vest, which gives safety zone alerts and makes other safety information accessible on the job site.

Applicable Across Industries

While wearables that are specific to the challenges and risks within particular industries are a great asset for injury prevention, there are also new strides being taken to produce a wearable that can be used in nearly endless applications. Human Condition Safety (HCS), which was acquired by AIG, is focused singularly on this goal. The company has conducted multiple pilot projects that combine wearable devices, artificial intelligence, building information modeling and cloud computing. These wearables can be used across multiple industries, and their applications will only continue to grow as the technology evolves. This combination of cutting-edge technology can serve to prevent injuries and improve workplace safety across the board.

Safety Signs Remain Essential

Innovative safety gear can only be effective if workers wear it correctly and consistently. Prominent safety signs and labels that remind workers of safety hazards, identify areas where personal protective equipment (PPE) is required - and what specific PPE is necessary - remain essential parts of any workplace safety program. Top quality safety signage can stand up to harsh environments and last for years. Check OSHA regulations to identify what signage is appropriate for your workplace hazards.

It’s an exciting time in the tech world, as wearable devices are being capitalized upon to increase safety and help better workers’ overall health. Everyone should be able to go to work without fear of injury or even death. Leading companies are doing their part to make progress toward this very important goal.

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