Technological advances in the world of personal protective equipment are presenting new opportunities for employers to significantly reduce workplace injuries.
These advances have become especially crucial as companies address the rising costs of workplace safety, currently estimated at over $20 billion per year.
The medical costs are even more staggering. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, more than two million workers are impacted by carpal tunnel syndrome each year, with an average overall cost of $94 billion.
This situation has resulted in employers and insurers actively looking for more effective ways to keep workers safe.
Wearable technology at the forefront of this effort.
What Is It?
Wearable technology encompasses a broad spectrum of devices, ranging from small fitness detectors on a participant’s wrist, to full-body exoskeleton devices, or even glasses with heads-up displays and hard hats with sensors.
The technology allows employers to take risk assessments to the next level by providing an in-depth understanding of the demands any given task or job is putting on the human body.
It allows employers to collect accurate movement data and muscle activity information, regardless of where the individual is performing the task.
In turn, employers gain insight into where injury risks might occur in the workplace.
If an employee is lifting a heavy object and twists in a way that places strains on their body, the employer now has the data to highlight the complexities of the turn, and make adjustments to prevent injuries in the future.
Wearable technology gives ergonomists a critical new tool in reducing workplace risks.
Wearable technology’s ability to add objective data about movement patterns and recognize the effects of fatigue, gives ergonomists a critical new tool in reducing workplace risks.
Though employees have brought up concerns in some workplaces about a potential breach of privacy, the National Institute of Occupational Safety has recommended companies alleviate concerns through transparency.
They also advise companies to give employees the opportunity to opt out of programs. Other experts suggest using the data for self-assessment or within a group of workers.
Still, wearable technology is here to stay. It is predicted expenditures for this kind of equipment will more than double from 2021 to 2022, from $27 billion to $60 billion.
Safety professionals are influencing this trend. More than 75% of safety professionals in one national survey said they were either in favor of using wearable technology in the workplace, or …….