Ensuring a safe and healthy work environment and making sure employees enjoy a positive work experience is and has always been a top priority for entrepreneurs. Back in the day, efforts in this regard included a series of actions, such as setting up health and safety policies, ensuring proper training, providing adequate personal protective equipment and keeping work premises clean and organised, or rewarding safe behaviour.
While these practices remain as relevant as ever, nowadays entrepreneurs have a new ally in combating common safety risks and hazards and creating a safer and healthier work environment for everyone: technology. Advanced tech solutions have brought a plethora of benefits to the business scene, changing the way companies operate for the better. No business area has remained untouched and that’s also the case with workplace safety.
Although most people think about increased efficiency, productivity, and higher profits when the benefits of technology in business are brought up, there’s no denying that safety has also been greatly improved since we entered the digital age. By making technology an integral part of business, entrepreneurs can achieve better safety practices and considerably reduce the likelihood of accident at work claims. So, let’s take a look at how technology is changing the safety landscape for businesses big and small.
Personal protective equipment, commonly referred to as PPEs, has long been the gold standard in minimising exposure and keeping employees working in hazardous environments safe. They include helmets, goggles, gloves, masks, and any other garments and accessories designed to protect the wearer from harm. However, they come with plenty of limitations, from restricting comfort and movement to creating psychological stress.
There was a great need for improvement in this area, and luckily technology has provided the solution by introducing wearables in the workplace. Wearables are devices that can monitor conditions both in employees and the environment they work in. Based on the factors they monitor, wearables generally fall into one of the following categories:
- Physiological trackers – these gadgets are used to monitoring changes in the wearer’s health status, providing data on a variety of parameters such as temperature, heart rate, blood oxygen levels, and other vital signs. If the values they register exceed normal levels, they will send a warning to the supervisor so that they can check on the workers and take timely action to keep them safe.
- Environmental trackers – these devices keep track of changes in the environment, such as temperature or air quality, and alert the wearer of potential dangers.
- Proximity trackers – these wearables can be integrated with different PPEs to help employees steer clear of hazard zones or warn them to keep a safe distance from dangerous equipment.
- Exoskeletons and Exosuits – this type of equipment makes physical labour infinitely easier and safer by providing assistance to workers in handling heavy loads or performing other physically demanding tasks. Thus, the risk of injuries is greatly reduced and employee safety is significantly enhanced.
The introduction of wearable technology to work premises doesn’t mean that PPEs have become obsolete. These are two different types of safety gear that complement each other in ensuring a safer workspace.
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Apps have brought considerable improvements in many areas across all industries and sectors, including workplace safety. There are plenty of safety apps available at the moment that can evaluate, and monitor different parameters in the work environment and alert employees of potential risks and hazards.
For example, there are decibel meter apps that can measure noise levels, apps that provide guidance in handling heavy weights, or apps that help businesses stay up to date with health and safety regulations and ensure compliance in this respect.
Apart from convenience and ease of use, safety apps also offer a cost-effective way to improve safety at work since most of them are free to download and use. What’s more, the number of apps that target specific sectors has increased lately, so one can find apps that are specifically designed for their industry and niche and address their particular concerns.
There’s no arguing that training plays a decisive role in creating and maintaining a safe and healthy work environment. one of the most common causes of accidents and injuries in the workplace is the improper use of equipment due to lack of training. Therefore, a more knowledgeable and better-prepared workforce translates into reduced risks and hazards, and fewer incidents on work premises.
So how exactly can technology help in this respect? By introducing VR and AR as training tools. VR and AR technologies can be employed to simulate real work environments and create comprehensive training programs. This gives employees the possibility to practice certain tasks and operations in a safe and controlled setting and develop the skills they need to perform their duties safely and efficiently.
Drones and Robots
There are many jobs that require employees to perform high-risk tasks or work in hazardous environments. The introduction of manufacturing robots and other similar equipment have helped minimise risks to some extent, but tech advances are now taking things one step further by employing cutting-edge drones and robots.
Instead of assigning risky activities such as working at height or working in confined spaces to their workers, employers can now use advanced drones and robots to handle these tasks. Apart from replacing human intervention in certain situations, these devices can also be used to inspect and monitor work areas and collect information to improve safety practices in the future. The data gathered by drones and robots can provide valuable insights and help employers make better health and safety-related decisions.
As technology continues to advance, the integration of tech solutions in business is inevitable. It’s time for companies to realise the potential that digital technologies hold and harness their power to give way to a more efficient and safer work environment. We’ve listed just some of the use cases of advanced technology in the safety field, but there are numerous other ways in which tech innovations can improve workplace safety.