Despite rapid technological advances, workplace injuries and illnesses are estimated to cost the U.S. as much as $250 billion a year. Many companies also face significant safety-related costs due to penalties imposed by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) in addition to on-the-job injury prevention programs.
Some companies are turning to wearable technology to better manage risk, reduce safety incidents and optimize worker productivity. Many of today’s workers, who are used to mobile apps, personal wearables and smart-home sensors, favor workplace wearables as helpful tools to improve their safety and on-the-job productivity.
Wearable technology devices use smart algorithms and advanced analytics to deliver risk assessments and data that support precise interventions shown to reduce injury in the workplace. In the future, workers compensation insurers are expected to play an important role in helping to evolve wearable technology methods used to monitor and evaluate worksite conditions and safety.
Many workers in the U.S. today are required to wear technological tracking devices as a condition of employment. First responders, such as paramedics, police officers and firefighters are prime examples. Other occupations that are increasingly exploring wearables include the construction, warehouse and manufacturing sectors.
There are many safety applications for wearable technology, including:
Wearable technology is able to warn employees of potential risk factors, such as toxins, extreme temperatures or noise levels.
Wearables can alert workers when an emergency or dangerous situation has occurred or is eminent, preventing them from getting injured
Activities that are known to cause injuries or place the worker at risk for an injury can be identified and the worker alerted, such as improper lifting or nodding off
Using the same type of sensors in smartphones and smartwatches, wearable devices can collect real-time information. Managers can then use this information to manage workflow and identify risks.
Wearables can capture detailed information and objectively analyze employee movements. This data can be used to streamline work processes and install ergonomic and other safety equipment to reduce the risk of injury.
Here are some interesting applications of workplace wearable devices.
Cyber security and data privacy are important issues that have been raised related to workplace wearables. Employees have expressed concern about who sees the data and how it might be used against them. Employers need to be cognizant of security measures as well as policies that require aggregate data be used for decision making in order to protect the identity of individual workers.
There is a tremendous opportunity for wearables in the workplace of the future. However, it is imperative security measures and privacy policies are developed and monitored in order to ensure data is kept secure and workers’ privacy is not invaded. Workplace wearables demonstrate a company’s commitment to its employees. They reduce financial, operational and legal challenges associated with workplace injuries. Workplace wearables help maximize the productivity and morale of employees, building a more competent, committed and healthier workforce.
At Lanier Upshaw, we invite you to explore the upside of risk. We use advocacy, expertise and service to turn your business risks into rewards. Contact us here to learn more about how we can help your business prepare for the future with innovative insurance solutions.