Technology in the workplace focusing on improved worker safety is constantly developing. Employers need to take notice and be continuously educated on emerging trends and the impact of technology on employee safety. From recruiting new talent, to safely assisting employees conduct their day to day responsibilities, new technologies are helping to promote better safety in the workplace.
Robotics continues to play a significant role in most facets of employees’ work environments. Robotic technology can help reduce workers’ exposures to existing injury sources. Careful planning must be done to ensure that employees are safe, not only when the robot is working, but during set-up and adjustment. Robotic technology is being deployed to assist with:
- Repetitive functions
- Palletizing of materials
- Packaging needs
- Safety purposes
Guarding of machinery
The employment of light curtains, lasers, and pressure sensitive mats has significantly advanced worker safety. Previously, the use of machine guarding or “pullbacks” was the standard mechanism to safeguard employees from power press-related injuries. New technologies now allow the worker to perform his/her tasks more easily and with fewer inhibitions. These devices are sophisticated and require proper installation by a qualified person.
Driving exposures – Vehicle improvements
The National Safety Council and Bureau of Labor Statistics report that work-related vehicle crashes are the primary drivers of lost-time WC claims and the most frequent cause of workplace fatalities. New in-vehicle technologies are helping to change driving behaviors, provide the ability to track unsafe actions, and capture information for management interactions. These technologies include:
- GPS Systems
- Electronic logging device
- Dash cams
- Auto stop feature
- Autonomous vehicles
With employees spending longer hours at a computer, significant advancements have been made in adjustable workstations and chairs. Sit-stand workstations are now economical and proving to provide real health benefits to employees. Some examples of technologies used in office environments:
- Adjustable workstations
- Sit-to-stand workstations
- Ergonomic chairs
- Ergonomic mouse
- Ergonomic keyboards
The development of wearable technology is changing the way employers approach worker safety. Wearable technology can assist in reducing accidents and injuries, aid in the recovery process, and provide data collection such as work task data that can be shared with workers, employers, and healthcare providers. The results are improved worker safety and lower WC costs.
This technology can be integrated in a number of ways:
- Track biomechanics
- Enable calls
- Scan barcodes
- Limit exposure to recognized standards
Additional preventative safety wearables include:
- Heat stress devices
- Cooling vests
As the workforce becomes younger, training methods must evolve to engage a younger generation of employees. New training technologies such as Virtual Reality/3D training, gamer apps, and Artificial Intelligence are interactive training tools that make the learning process more interesting, the workplace safer, and should result in higher retention rates. These tools can be used to simulate hazardous work situations, providing a safe training method for employees to learn in a proactive manner, without being exposed to the risk of real injury.
At PMA, we know that safety in the workplace is a top priority for our clients. Ultimately, these technologies will lead the way to fewer injuries, faster recovery times, a safer work environment, and healthier employees. A strategic approach to handling this evolution will be essential for overall workplace success, including re-evaluating workforce development, workflows, and organizational structure.
For more information on workplace safety, please contact your PMA Risk Control Consultant.