23rd Oct, 2020 Read time 4 minutes

The different safety applications for wearable technology

Wearable technology has become a popular accessory for many consumers throughout the world. However, wearable tech is also now being used for a wide range of applications within health and safety thanks to a surge in Safety Tech over the past decade.

In this blog, we’ve highlighted some of the key applications for wearable technology within health and safety.

Safety applications for wearable tech

Monitoring

Firstly, wearable tech uses sensors that can track an employee’s body movements and posture, identifying any activities that increase the risk of injuries. These same sensors can also track an employee’s vitals, such as level of stress or possible fatigue which can help managers to identify additional risks that could lead to accidents and injuries if steps are not taken.

A range of wearables monitor workers’ vital signs, not just devices worn on the wrist. These include smart glasses that can sleepiness, and smart clothing can monitor heart rate variability and breathing volume.

There are also some wearable devices that can identify levels of gases, toxins and high-risk temperatures in working environments, which is a big step towards keeping workers safe and minimising risk.

Alerting and instructing

As mentioned, sensors can detect of there is excessive noise, heat, or toxins in an environment, but these devices can also sound the alarm when a work situation becomes unsafe. This alert can go directly to the worker, to their manager, and even to an internal system that is monitored elsewhere.

Sensors that emit alert signals can also be added to wearable devices to improve safety by warning workers of motion or highlighting any risk created by moving vehicles. This type of smart technology is crucial in noisy working environments where workers may not hear or see potential hazards.

On a busy factory floor, wearable technology can alert equipment operators to sudden stops which can indicate an emergency or a potential problem. Some sensors can also shut down potentially dangerous machinery if workers get too close to dangerous components.

Combined with apps and other software, these devices can also provide instructions on what needs to be done to reduce risk and avoid hazards.

 

Getting the most out of wearable technology

There is no doubt that wearable technology can make a significant impact in reducing risk and improving safety. However, you shouldn’t just rush in and buy the first bit of safety tech you come across. We’ve highlighted some things you should consider first.

 

Look for evidence, read reviews and get advice

There’s still little official published research to show that wearable technology is effective at preventing injuries, and research on proper accuracy is continuing. When looking for wearables, and indeed other safety tech, you should do your research and ensure you are opting for a device that has been tried and tested by similar companies in a similar industry.

Workplace safety experts can be valuable resources and safety advisors will be able to discuss the potential impacts and benefits that certain devices could have.

 

Brief employees

Even the most advanced and expensive technology won’t make a difference if it’s used incorrectly isn’t used at all.

Bring workers into the conversation around safety tech and wearable devices and ask them what they think would be of most benefit. Be clear about what data the company is collecting and why but make it clear that you are doing it to increase overall safety and performance.

This proactive communication, whilst openly discussing concerns and suggestions, will help create buy-in and promote consistent and correct use amongst all employees within the business.

 

Find the right fit

Wearable technology offers a whole plethora of devices, so try not to get too obsessed over the latest and most pricey equipment.

Instead, use information gained from chats with employees and identify gaps in your specific operations to help determine which wearables might be the most beneficial.

Introducing wearables shouldn’t detract from current safety practices, so make sure that the devices are offering benefits and that they are not offering too many added processes or distractions that could impact current good practice.

HSE Network
Article by: HSE Network

Become a HSE Network Member

Join and be part of a growing network of more than 3,000 HSE Professionals and experts in the field of Health and Safety who are helping to improve best practise and knowledge around the world.

For unlimited access

icon Unlimited access to all HSE videos, insights and articles
icon Your questions answered - By the HSE experts
icon Exclusive access to downloadable HSE resources in just one click
icon Invitation to HSE events and networking groups

Brands who we work with

Sign up to our newsletter
Keep up to date with all HSE news and thought leadership interviews