How Wearable Tech is Reducing Workplace Injuries

By Lindsey Patterson October 27, 2016

Whether you have attended Consumer Electronic Shows recently or flipped through a magazine, you have probably noticed the increase in the number of fitness trackers. Wearable technology is hot at the moment. Wearables combine sensors in an easy-to-wear form to keep us informed of our body's vitals and other environmental factors.

While you are most likely to think of fitness trackers when hear the term “wearable tech,” wearable technologies are everywhere. The newest versions of wearables are being aimed at keeping people safe in the workplace.

Sensors can track everything from physical movement, heart rate, and brain activity. Wearables are also able to inform you, and others, when you are in danger and can act as an alert system when you need help.

Workplace Applications
6,300 people around the globe die from workplace injuries every day. The most tragic part about that statistic is that most of these deaths are preventable. Some jobs are more hazardous than most, so having an extra set of eyes and ears keeping watch on remote employees can protect workers if something goes wrong.

Drivers of Trucks and Heavy Equipment
One of the most common occupations in the US is trucking. Trucking is critical to supplying businesses and consumers with products and necessities that we use every day. Without truck drivers, there wouldn’t be fresh produce, breads, meats, or many other items available that we need every day. Unless an item is produced locally, it has to be shipped in and that's where trucking comes in.

In 2012, over 317,000 collisions involved commercial trucks. Truck drivers and their families are often injured or killed in these accidents and require an attorney's help in order to receive the appropriate medical care and compensation they need to recover and support their families.

Companies who employ truck drivers are looking at new technology that can make workers and their supervisors aware of danger and can potentially save thousands of lives every year.

SmartCap, a company out of Australia, has introduced the SmartCap system. The system is pretty simple and easy to use. A truck driver wears the cap, which looks exactly like a standard baseball-style hat, that contains sensors which monitor the brain’s electrical activity and transmit the information via Bluetooth to the truck driver’s supervisor.

SmartCap will inform supervisors of a truck driver's level of alertness via an operator display, which uses visual and audio alerts if driver fatigue is detected. It is able to provide real-time feedback to supervisors, who can then alert the driver of their impaired state.

Other heavy equipment operators will also benefit from the SmartCap. Its full use in the workplace is only beginning to be explored and tested.

Manufacturing and Mining
The Smartwatch by Tata Group is a device that demonstrates an example of how multiple sensors can protect workers. Factory workers, firefighters, and miners will benefit from the device, which is a two-way alert system. Its multiple sensors detect dangerous gases and fumes while monitoring the worker's vitals signs to detect and problems quickly.

The Oil Industry
The oil industry, like many other industries, employees many baby-boomers who are set to retire in the near future or are physically unable to continue field work due to their health. These employees have the most experience and knowledge, which is highly valued and needed in the field.

The Smart Helmet by GE is a wearable that allows more experienced workers to communicate with less experienced workers via two-way audio and video feeds. This will allow both parties to communicate effectively in order to resolve advanced problems more quickly.

Continually Evolving
The wearable technologies industry is booming. New devices are being introduced every year and provide more accurate sensors and better communication. The industry is seeing improvements in leaps and bounds while this technology infiltrates our world to make it a safer place for all.

Edited by Ken Briodagh
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Contributing Writer

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