From your Apple Watch tracking your sleep to factory workers wearing state-of-the-art exoskeletons, wearable technology is everywhere. While initially designed for personal health and well-being, wearable devices have branched out and are making a significant impact on occupational safety and health.
The most common types of safety wearables
Many modern wearables, like sensors, are lightweight and are integrated seamlessly into hard hats, safety glasses, and other familiar pieces of work attire. They can take many forms, but here are a few examples:
- Ergonomic wearables monitor user posture and lifting techniques and then alert them or management when there is an unsafe act that could result in injury.
- Temperature wearables can monitor heart rate, body temperature, or other factors and alert users and management when conditions are unsafe.
- Air quality wearables monitor environmental contaminants and alert users and management when they have exceeded set limits.
- Exoskeletons provide support and lifting assistance to users, reducing the stress on the human body and changing industries that require heavy or repetitive lifting.
The most significant benefits of wearable safety devices
The benefits of wearables depend on the device and its application. However, these are some of the most significant benefits companies notice when they adopt the technology.
More data at your fingertips
Most companies are making crucial safety and health decisions based on old data. They look at injuries and near misses, safety audits and observations, and then attempt to identify their organization’s most significant risk areas. This method is tried and true, it gets results, but it can only take you so far. Without real-time visibility into operations, managers cannot make quick, educated decisions that can take a good safety record to an excellent one.
Connected wearable safety devices are changing that by giving organizations deep insight into the hazards confronting their workforce at any moment. For example, suppose you have employees working on a roof during the summer. In that case, wearables can monitor their body temperature and alert you when temperatures exceed a safe level, prompting you to bring them down for a break. With real-time data, managers can make well-informed, proactive business decisions to prevent accidents before they occur.
Improved employee well-being and retention
According to a 2021 study by the American Psychological Association, individuals who feel stressed at work are three times as likely to say they plan to quit their jobs. In addition, the Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates replacing an employee costs twice that employee’s salary. So, considering those numbers, making a solid effort toward employee retention makes sense for business.
Many organizations are struggling to hire and retain qualified workers in the current job market and are turning towards wearables to help. For example, businesses that want to reduce employee stress are using wearables that measure stress levels and using the data to create plans to reduce it effectively.
Companies that actively attempt to improve workplace safety, like implementing new wearable technology, show workers that they care for their well-being. This simple demonstration of caring can dramatically affect morale and employee retention. In addition, workers that don’t get hurt show up for work more often and are generally happier and more productive while there.
There is a lot of room for improvement when it comes to workplace safety. According to The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), US businesses reported 2.7 million injuries and illnesses and spent 163.9 billion dollars on preventable workplace injuries in 2020. In addition, soft tissue injuries continue to be among the most common types of preventable workplace injuries in the United States.
Some wearable devices, like exoskeletons, are helping to prevent workplace injuries and musculoskeletal disorders by reducing the amount of stress on the human body. Exoskeletons are wearable machines consisting of a frame that goes around all or part of a user’s body and provides additional strength and support while reducing fatigue.
The best exoskeletons on the market are fully connected and can effortlessly merge into industrial IoT environments and the Smart Factory ecosystem. They have integrated early warning systems that combat poor posture and lifting to prevent injuries before they occur. In addition, the best exoskeletons also deliver comprehensive reporting that provides immediate information to reduce injuries further, improve processes, and maximize ROI.
Apogee from German Bionic
Apogee from German Bionic supports the lower back to provide 30kg (66 pounds) of lifting support plus adds active walking assistance to reduce fatigue. In addition, it easily connects to IoT environments and Smart Factory ecosystems and has integrated early warning systems to prevent injuries. Finally, Apogee offers comprehensive reporting that gives management the information they need when they need it.
Would you like to reduce workplace injuries while gaining deeper insight into the hazards confronting your workplace? Schedule a demo today to learn more about how wearable technology from German Bionic can help.