How Can Technology Prevent Workplace Injuries?

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Technology has benefitted humankind in countless ways, and many of the latest and most important high-tech developments are in the field of workplace safety. Your company may or may not be using them, but they are clearly the wave of the future. A recent report by the National Security Council (NSC) focuses on technology solutions that can reduce the number of serious workplace injuries and fatalities and identifies workplace hazards and technologies that can mitigate those risks. According to one of their representatives, the number of workplace deaths is especially concerning, and companies that adopt these technologies can eliminate preventable workplace deaths. If your employer is not using workplace safety technology, it might be time to start a conversation.

What Is Wearable Technology?

There are many companies that use wearable technology that employs the use of artificial intelligence (AI). One example are shirts that measure employees’ physiological status by gathering their biological data. These shirts can determine the level of stress that particular tasks have on the body by monitoring the wearer’s vital signs. Then, managers can use the information to modify a worker’s daily tasks; if there is too much stress on the body, the workload can be adjusted. Wrist monitors can also provide this kind of information, as well as any ergonomic risks.

There are also internet-enabled wristbands that can be programmed to monitor the work environment’s humidity and temperature levels. Wearable tech can also be built into tech-enhanced personal protective equipment (PPE). Examples of this include tech-enabled work gloves to measure grip strengths as well as caps that can let the wearer know when it is time to hydrate. Some companies also use these tools to detect when an employee falls and to alert emergency services of an accident. This can mean much faster response times.

Another kind of wearable tech is industrial exoskeletons. These attach to a worker’s body, mostly on the upper extremities and lower back. When worn, exoskeletons assist workers with repetitive and demanding tasks; at the same time, they provide essential data about the employees and work environments. This information can help identify reasons for injuries and also improve workplace conditions.

Tracking technologies can also be integrated into hard hats and vests and are useful for employees who are working in isolated areas away from others, such as tunnels. This tech can also include mapping software and digital floor plans, which can be priceless in the case of an emergency if first responders need to locate the employee. There are also visualization technologies such as video cameras built into safety goggles, conveyers, and forklifts. These can warn workers of hidden dangers that cannot be seen with the naked eye. Safety apps can also help users evaluate issues such as noise hazards, provide guidance on the handling of hazardous materials, and promote safety procedures and protocols.

Drones, Robots, VR, and AR

Workplace drones and robots are nothing new, but recent technological advancements are bringing them to the forefront of industrial safety. Drones are used to assess the safety of outdoor sites where employees are at higher risk for injuries and fatalities. There is drone inspection software available, and this allows employers to get up-to-date information about site safety. This technology allows drones to carry out inspections and other risky tasks instead of workers. Equipped with cameras and recording equipment, the drones can transmit the information to ground personnel in real time.

Drones move much faster than humans and can complete more work in less time. They are also inexpensive to use and are good for performing aerial inspections of sites such as landfills. Drones are also used for surveying land, can investigate accident scenes, and be used to check if workers are following safety protocols such as wearing helmets or respirators. Cobots, or collaborative robots, are devices that also help employees with repetitive, dangerous, and challenging tasks. These use a human-machine interface that is similar to the ones used in smartphones. There is no complex coding knowledge required, so little time is needed to use them once workers learn the operation basics.

Training seminars and meetings do not have to be boring or ineffective when virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) are used to mimic real work environments for learning purposes. These platforms allow workers to develop crucial skills by practicing on equipment before the real work is started. Employees can be shown how to perform their tasks and follow company procedures by performing them in VR and AR, and if they make mistakes, no one gets hurt. This field is evolving, and as time passes VR and AR will likely become even more realistic and more widely used.

Can Technology Help Me in My Office?

For office workers, the safety risks are more likely to come from prolonged sitting and repetitive tasks. Working at a desk for long periods can reduce proper blood circulation; adversely affect digestion; and cause a variety of back, shoulder, neck, arm, leg, and hand problems. Companies will sometimes hire trained ergonomists to analyze employee workstations and recommend improvements, and today’s ergonomically designed chairs and desks are made to improve posture and prevent injuries. The chairs offer more support and are made from high-tech materials, and there are desks that can be raised and lowered with the push of a button.

Ergonomic keyboards can be customized for employees’ wrists, and there are also mouses designed to be more worker friendly. It is also important to train workers about good posture and to encourage them to exercise regularly, eat healthy, and take regularly scheduled breaks from their workstations.

Working around Machines, Workplace Security, and Analytics

Some of the most significant workplace hazards are present when employees work around machines. These include machines turning on unexpectantly, workers getting struck by machinery, and becoming caught in machinery. One kind of technology that addresses these dangers is machinery cutoff light curtains. These automatically stop machinery if one of the light fields gets interrupted from an employee getting too close to the machine. Machines can also have AR displays to project schematics, safety information, and other details to workers. There are also power management systems that can manage capacity and load shedding and other electrical functions.

Workplace violence is another serious safety concern and can occur in any kind of work environment. VR and AR training can teach employees how to respond when another person becomes violent, but the risks can also be reduced using real-time response management mobile apps. These devices use phone location tracking and can quickly pinpoint workers when there are emergency situations, including the threat of violence. Employees can also use mounted and body-worn cameras, and companies can also provide them with panic buttons. Again, the sooner help arrives, the less chance there is of accidents and injuries.

After accidents happen in workplaces, modern safety analytics can be used to investigate what happened and why through high-tech data-gathering processes and worker-centric data. These are used to identify causes and all the possible factors that contributed to the accident. All of that can be used for predictive modeling that shows who is most at risk and what work environment issues can be improved. These analytics also predict future safety concerns and the important, preventative steps that can be taken in the future.

Baltimore Workers’ Compensation Lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton Help Injured Workers Get the Help They Deserve

Many companies have made significant strides toward improving workplace safety using technology, but people still get injured at work every day. If you have been hurt in a workplace accident and need sound legal guidance, get in touch with the experienced Baltimore Workers’ Compensation lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton. Our legal team stands ready to help you get the compensation you need and deserve. Call us today at 844-556-4LAW (4529) or contact us online for a free consultation.

With offices in Baltimore, we serve clients throughout Maryland.