There were 4,693 worker fatalities in 2016, and a large percentage of those deaths were in the construction field.
While most people associate work-related injuries and deaths with the construction industry, the truth is that any worker can be injured in any workplace. Yes, even office workers can become injured while on the job.
Just as businesses use technology to streamline their operations, technology can help streamline safety and reduce worker injuries.
1. Smart Helmets
Smart helmets are changing safety on work sites. While still in their infancy, these helmets are starting to make appearances on job sites.
Some helmets, like the ProActive, are soft and comfortable during normal wear but transform into a hard, shock-absorbent helmet upon impact. The ProActive looks like a baseball cap, and it comes with ear protection for added safety. These earpieces can conduct electricity, which allows communication systems to easily be integrated into the helmet.
The SmartCap system looks like a regular baseball cap, but the interior of the hat contains sensors that monitor electrical activity in the brain. That information is transmitted to employers. These sensors help measure fatigue and let employers know if an employee is in an impaired state.
Smart helmets can help prevent injuries both in the construction industry and other industries that require manual labour. Ultimately, businesses will save on workers’ compensation claims, and employees are less likely to have to deal with stressful claim denials.
“Workers’ compensation insurance companies are notorious for trying to minimize workplace injuries and limit payouts,” says personal injury attorney Bary L. Gassman. “Despite the benefits that employers are required to provide to injured workers under Illinois workers’ compensation laws, those provided by some employers and insurance companies continue to fall short.”
2. Smart Gloves
Wearables are making their way into workplaces everywhere, and smart gloves can help prevent exposure to toxic substances.
This device was created by researchers at Fraunhofer Research Institution for Modular Solid State Technologies EMFT in Germany. The protective glove contains custom sensor materials that change colors in response to toxic substances in the air.
3. Supportive Vests
Back injuries are some of the most common in the workplace. Wearable technology can help prevent unnecessary injuries.
The researchers at Fraunhofer Institute are also working on a specialized vest that is soft, flexible, lightweight and designed to be supportive without limiting the range of motion. The team integrated electronics into the fabric of the vest, which is powered by the kinetic energy generated by the wearer.
The vest is equipped with sensors that monitor the way the user moves. A processor compares the movement against optimum movement patterns. Any time an irregularity is detected, the warning lamp illuminates. Built-in actuators help wearers avoid making incorrect movements and help support correct activities.
4. Virtual Reality Training
Virtual reality can help people in high-risk industries get the training they need without having to be exposed to a dangerous environment. Employees can learn the appropriate way to react in dangerous situations and how to avoid them.
All the while, workers can remain in a safe, controlled environment. See this article on health and safety at work post-COVID-19.