TMCnet Feature
May 05, 2020

How technology can help make the workplace a safe environment



Artificial intelligence, machine learning, cloud computing, and gene editing are just a few of the most significant technological advancements of the last century. And, if you come to think about it, we owe most of our health and safety to such advancements.



We live in a world that is more interconnected than ever, and technology is contributing to keep this world as safe as possible both in our personal and professional life. For the past decade, multiple technologies have helped turn hazardous working places, such as construction sites or manufacturing plants, into safe workplaces with minimum risks.

Below are seven ways technology can help turn the workplace into an even safer environment if companies start implementing them right away.

State-of-the-art training software

One of the main reasons for workplace injuries is improper use of machinery or equipment. Oftentimes, this happens because employees have not been given the proper training to safely use the equipment, or because training courses are not as comprehensive as they should be.

Thanks to virtual reality, which has become a very popular training tool, employees can now immerse themselves in a simulated environment that is identical to the one they are working in, to learn how to properly use certain equipment. This way, they can be put in potentially hazardous situations, without actually being exposed to risks.

Augmented reality can also be used in training, as it allows workers to experience bot the real world and enhanced features simultaneously. Even though they involve a higher initial cost, these technologies can turn out to be cost-effective in the long term, as they eliminate the need for human trainers or instructors.

3D visualization and data technology

Employees that are required to work in remote or secluded environments, such as mine workers, for example, are often exposed to many unknown risks. By using 3D visualization technology, paired with real-time data from the location, they can collect real-time insights about the place, knowing is there are potential risks involved. 3D visualization technology can help digitally recreate environments so that workers can analyze then and determine the safest procedures they can use.

Sewer inspectors, for example, which are known to work in hazardous environments, can use cameras to survey hardly-accessible areas and see if they are safe to enter. This way, they are not entering uncharted territory and can be protected from potential harms.

It can be compared to how doctors use cameras to assist them in surgery, in order to perform less invasive procedures.

IoT technology

Lately, Internet of Things technology has been used in many industries, including workplace safety. IoT technology helps connect machines or equipment through the use of the internet, so that they can send or receive information.

Mainly, there are two IoT categories that can help improve workplace safety: wearable technology and machines connected to devices:

  • Equipment monitoring

As Corey Pollard, workers compensation lawyer in Virginia points out, malfunctioning equipment is one of the major reasons for workplace injuries. But if the equipment is kept in a good state, then these injuries can be avoided. IoT technology can help equip machinery with sensors that monitor operations and can signal if there is a problem with it. This way, the repair can be done promptly, to avoid issues and reduce costs.

  • Wearable technology

Wearable devices can be used to monitor vital workers’ vital signs such as temperature, heart rate, or blood oxygen levels so that employees working in dangerous environments can be protected. This wat, if a worker’s temperature, for example, reaches unhealthy levels, the device can send a signal, and operations can stop.

Wearable technology can monitor environmental conditions as well, and alert workers if a certain area is safely accessible. For example, employees working in areas with harmful gases can wear gas monitoring devices, which can alert them if high levels of carbon monoxide or other toxic gases are present.

Health and safety management software

Another type of technology that has been proven very efficient for keeping the workplace safe is called environmental, health, and safety (EHS) management software. This can be typically purchased from software development companies that either create off-the-shelf or customized products.

Although EHS management software can be custom-tailored to fit a company’s needs, they typically help businesses with the following:

  • Risk analyzing and developing plans for risk reduction
  • Record and evaluate workplace-related accidents, to improve prevention
  • Monitor employee health and safety
  • Comply with OSHA rules and environment regulations

Surveillance drones

Drones are small flying devices equipped with sensors and cameras, that can surveil areas and send information to the person operating them. These aircrafts are small, easy to use, and quite inexpensive, and can travel long distances.

They can be used to inspect secluded or uncharted areas, which could otherwise be difficult or dangerous to access. Examples include rooftops, high-rise construction sites, or disaster zones. This way, they can make sure that the area is safe to access and reduce the potential for safety risks.

Robotics

There is probably no technology that revolutionized workplace safety more than robotics. Robotic technology can help reduce tedious tasks and improve employee efficiency. Repetitive and dull tasks can result in stressful work environments, reducing attention span, and promoting accidents.

The manufacturing industry is probably the one benefiting most from robotics assistance, as collaborative robots can now work alongside humans. And because of new technologies, robots are equipped with sensors to detect human workers and cease operations if someone is too close to them and could get hurt.

Wearable devices

Not everyone is the same, meaning that what isn’t harmful to a person can create serious issues for someone else. People could have allergies or health conditions they are not aware of, and certain work environments can accentuate those issues.

By using wearable devices, businesses can monitor employee health and ensure they are not exposed to threatening situations. Data can then be stored and analyzed, providing monthly health reports to employers. These can also be helpful when creating healthcare plans for employees so that they can be customized to fit their needs.



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