Apr 30, 2019

Wearable Safety Technology

When we talk about safety technology, many people assume that we’re talking about software that helps track and improve safety on the worksite. However, the latest and greatest in safety tech comes in a wide array of shapes, sizes, and capabilities.

Wearable devices are usually associated with fitness and mobile task management, but new technology is making it an integral part of safety on the job. Keep reading to learn more about how wearable safety technology is changing the risk management landscape for the better.

Wearables are increasing awareness.

Safety wearables come in all shapes and sizes and are made with one specific goal in mind: to increase awareness of a worker’s surroundings and to decrease safety risks. They’ve become an innovative window to the worksite, providing data to both the wearer and their employer.

Imagine having the technology to generate an immediate alert at nearly the exact second of the accident. This is the type of advantage that could make safety wearables an essential tool at every worksite. All it takes is a second for someone to fall victim to a near-fatal accident. The longer that accident goes undetected, the greater the risk of fatality or permanent injury.

This tech also allows employers and safety professionals to track behaviors on the job. That data opens up an entirely new way to identify weak points that could develop into dangerous situations. Being able to accurately predict the likelihood of an accident gives organizations the power to avoid them.

The future of safety is already here. Wearables can monitor and mitigate dangers using a reliable wireless network. Many employers are already taking advantage of wearable safety technology to improve procedures, shorten response times, and identify risky behaviors.

The different types of safety wearables

Many of us are familiar with fitness monitors or smartwatches, but the wearables used to enhance safety are a bit more specialized.

Personal monitors

This includes any personal safety device that provides workers with a warning or feedback that alerts them to danger or high-risk behaviors. Smart hard hats have been made that vibrate or set off an alarm if the worker falls into a microsleep.

Exhaustion is a huge problem and one that contributes to dangerous situations regularly. Not only does this device help them stay alert, but it also provides feedback to the employer that they can use to improve schedules and increase their awareness of worksite dangers.

Other devices allow workers to monitor their vital signs and send an instant signal if they need help. Being able to push a button and expect an emergency response provides more than just peace of mind for anyone working in a high-risk environment.

Tracking vital signs such as heart rate or blood pressure can also provide data on stress responses to certain situations. When a person is under a great deal of stress, it can lead to panic or impair their ability to reason. However, when an employee knows when they’re becoming stressed, they can leave the situation before it escalates.

Allowing employers to have access to that data gives them important information on how workers perceive certain activities. Understanding the stress points can influence scheduling, staffing, and policy changes that improve working conditions for everyone.



Environmental monitors

The construction industry has one of the highest fatal accident rates in the U.S. Workers are constantly being exposed to dangerous situations involving heavy equipment, toxic materials, and physical strain.

With all the risks associated with a worksite, any type of early warning system is a life-saving advantage. We’ve mentioned hard hats that can alert an employee when they nod off, but there are also models that can alert them to environmental dangers.

Head injuries are serious in any profession. Having a hard hat that vibrates or uses visual and auditory cues to indicate the proximity of a potential hazard is a literal lifesaver. It may not eliminate injuries from falling debris or materials, but it may give someone the fraction of a second they need to react.

Personal monitors that measure gas levels or the presence of hazardous materials are a preventative necessity on some sites. This type of wearable safety technology offsets a danger that might otherwise be undetectable. There’s something to be said for joining forces with tech that enhances our ability to sense environmental changes. In mines and other highly sensitive situations, organizations have invested in devices that use radio waves to measure the distance between workers and the objects around them.

Along with protecting miners from cave-ins, this technology also allows those operating heavy equipment to be aware of others in their vicinity.



Comfort and performance tech

Last, but not least, are safety wearables that maximize worker comfort and enhance performance. Heated construction jackets have been around for years, but technological improvements have made them a cold-weather asset. Temperature control can prevent instances of hypothermia and increase productivity in spite of adverse weather.

Comfort is great, but the next wearable is something straight out of construction sci-fi. Virtual reality goggles are allowing project managers and other employees to view a 3-D overlay of blueprints at the actual construction site. Seeing how everything will fit together is changing the way we plan and increasing project precision.



The concerns surrounding safety wearables

As cool as safety wearables are, they’re still a subject of controversy on some worksites. Employees are afraid that their bosses are using these devices to monitor their performance, and no one likes being under constant scrutiny.

The key to successfully integrating wearable technology into any workplace is transparency. Remember to respect the privacy or workers, and only use the information for its intended purpose. Safety is everyone’s number one priority and anything that makes it possible should be approached in a positive way.

For more information on improving working conditions for your employees and maximizing your safety resources, contact SafetyTek. And feel free to share your experiences with safety wearables in the comments below or on social media!