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Can technology enhance workplace safety?

More than 14 people a day died while doing their jobs in 2016, highlighting the need for safety and procedural enhancements at their workplaces. Employers are starting to embrace new technology to improve worker safety, but which types of technology really work? Here are some examples:

  • Exoskeletons—Workers can wear exoskeletons to transfer weight from repetitive tasks and use less energy when moving objects. Exoskeletons reduce risk of injuries and increase strength, dexterity and productivity.
  • Virtual reality—This technology, which replicates physical environments, presents training opportunities for employers and allows workers to simulate hazardous tasks and identify safety needs. Simulation is already being used in a variety of feels to enhance training, and more benefits are expected as the technology matures.
  • Wearables—Wearable devices offer real-time monitoring of workers’ vital signs and can alert workers to the presence of environmental dangers. They can also cut health care costs by reducing health risks such as respiratory problems, cancer, dermatitis and hearing damage. Wearables can also provide employers an idea of what may have caused an employee’s injury before filing a workers’ compensation claim.
  • Hand-held mobile devices—Although the use of mobile devices can be a distraction and safety liability, workers can use certain apps to detect safety hazards, log safety incidents, track OSHA requirements and even determine when the heat index is too high on job sites. Issue hand-held devices with an emphasis on safety and guidelines on how they should be used.
  • Drones—Drones can enter high-hazard areas instead of humans to help safely assess damage and plan emergency response.

Data science

In addition to new devices, data science opens a wide world of possibilities for employers that improve safety and security. With the right technology, companies can analyze photos from job sites and scan them for safety hazards, using an algorithm that correlates those images with their accident records.

The technology still needs some fine-tuning, but it emphasizes a proactive approach to safety: Employers can detect elevated threats, then intervene with safety briefings or changes.

The cloud

By using the cloud, companies have been able to completely overhaul the way they interact with each other and with their workers. Businesses that have projects and crews in multiple locations especially appreciate the benefits of the cloud, since it is efficient and allows for the seamless transfer of information and monitoring of workers’ safety.

Deploying new technology

New technology can be a waste of money if you don’t deploy it properly. It’s easy to get caught up in the wow factor of technology and lose sight of what you’re hoping it will improve. Without a plan in place for deployment, you may be wasting your investment.

Before seeking out new technology, consider ways to improve your processes. After improving your processes, you can identify gaps that new technology can address. No amount of technology will help if your processes are what need to be fixed.

Contact your Trustpoint representative today to learn more about using technology to enhance safety and performance in your business.

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