Companies in every industry are legally and morally obligated to ensure the safety of their employees while they are on the job. According to the Liberty Mutual Workplace Safety Index, serious work-related injuries cost U.S. businesses nearly $60 billion every year in workers’ compensation expenses. Organizations need to take proactive measures and utilize the predictive power of the Internet of Things (IoT) to effectively recognize safety concerns and prevent workplace accidents and injuries.
IoT technology can increase workplace safety by identifying potential hazards before they become problems. Sensors monitor equipment and alert staff to possible issues in real-time, allowing companies to make repairs before worker safety is compromised. IoT wearables can even track employee health by monitoring temperature, heart rate, brain activity, and blood oxygen levels, reducing the risk of employees working in extreme environments or with dangerous materials. With environmental monitoring, companies can better detect unsafe working conditions, while advanced data analysis solutions provide detailed information that supervisors can use to address safety concerns and prevent future incidents.
The Connected Worker
A worker monitored by IoT technology has enhanced awareness of their surroundings and is more alert to possible hazards. Companies can use both embedded and wearable sensors to gather and analyze employee safety data in real-time. IoT device manufacturers fit clothing, shoes, safety glasses, respirators, and even hard hats with sensors and turning them into connected objects that regularly generate and send critical safety data. Companies then use this information to ensure the safety of their employees and prevent potential injuries from heavy machinery, overexertion, and even falls.
High-risk industries are utilizing wearable IoT devices to drastically improve workplace safety. Workers can easily monitor their surroundings and their own biometrics and make better-informed decisions in risky situations. Companies can also continuously track employee biometrics and receive real-time alerts when workers have been in an accident or are at risk of injury. With IoT remote monitoring, oil and gas, mining, and utility companies can better ensure the health and safety of employees working in hazardous environments and desolate areas.
Connected wearables allow supervisors to monitor employee movements, analyze these actions, and recognize risky behaviors that may result in injury. Sensors and high-definition cameras track every step, twist, and turn to identify negligent practices, unsafe procedures, and non-compliance with safety standards and regulations. The IoT devices then send this information to supervisors in real-time, giving them the opportunity to correct erroneous operations and dangerous behaviors, reducing workplace accidents and injuries.
Sensors have rapidly become much more affordable, allowing companies to turn everyday objects into IoT devices. Industrial sectors can now implement environmental monitoring at a cost-effective price point, giving them access to previously unobtainable data and drastically changing the way companies approach worker safety concerns. Even on remote job sites, infrared sensors can consistently monitor temperature and recognize leaks, while other sensors detect and report position, velocity, motion, shock, force, and vibration, keeping supervisors up-to-date on working conditions and worker safety across multiple locations.
Mining companies use IoT devices to continuously measure air quality and monitor their miners’ health statuses. Sensors send this real-time biometric and environmental data directly to supervisors via a communication system such as WiFi, Bluetooth, Z-Wave, or Zigbee. Companies are immediately alerted to potential hazards and can take action to ensure their employees’ health and safety.
SmartCap Technologies of Australia has created a fatigue monitoring system that measures alertness in truck drivers and other heavy machinery operators. Their technology can monitor brain waves and detect dangerous “microsleeps” that jeopardize the safety of the driver and everyone around him. This system can help ensure that drivers are awake and alert while on the road, reducing their risk of falling asleep at the wheel and causing devastating accidents.
A lack of cohesion and effective communication between separate departments is often detrimental to workplace injury prevention. Those responsible for ensuring safe operations must manually compile and analyze reports, spreadsheets, and data covering everything from certifications to maintenance records to accident reports. This glaring disconnect allows potential safety issues to fall through the cracks and go uncorrected, leading to dangerous incidents that could have been prevented.
IoT technology and advanced data analytics work together to create a centralized database that is continuously monitored and effectively analyzed. With this type of comprehensive system in place, companies can track and monitor accidents, injuries, losses and damages, and other safety concerns. This level of accessible information gives organizations the ability to recognize probable issues and address them before they lead to accidents and injuries.
IoT devices also provide more information on accidents and working conditions through data analysis to determine why the incident occurred and how to prevent similar issues in the future. With the terabytes of data gathered by IoT monitoring, companies can become more proactive, rather than reactive, when it comes to safety in the workplace. Supervisors can detect accident patterns and use data analysis solutions to reduce risk and predict and prevent re-occurrences.
Connected IoT devices form a comprehensive system that constantly monitors each worker and their environment. Supervisors can track employee biometrics including body temperature, heart rate, and activity level, as well as environmental heat and humidity levels. Using data analytics, companies can then better recognize unsafe working conditions and implement procedures to help prevent heat or exertion-related injuries.
Companies around the world are using IoT solutions to ensure the health and safety of their employees. Wearable devices and connected sensors can monitor each worker’s actions, surroundings, and biometrics, while advanced data analytics can be used to detect accident and injury patterns and prevent future incidents. With IoT technology, businesses can better protect their employees, while drastically reducing injury-related expenses and liability costs. Increased safety in the workplace can also help lower insurance premiums, offsetting the investment in IoT technology.
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