Pre-COVID, it’s likely you had never come across the term “safety wearables” before. That’s not entirely surprising. While workplace injuries have been their own type of pandemic among Industrial Athletes™ for generations here in the United States and beyond, it’s the type of thing that was easy to ignore if it didn’t affect you directly.
But this past year has brought the world of workplace injuries dramatically into focus — after all, remaining safe at work isn’t relegated to a slip, trip and fall anymore; now, an invisible virus could lay you up for weeks. Or worse.
So, what are safety wearables?
With COVID has come a slew of workplace safety solutions. Safety wearables, simply put, are any piece of technology that actively alerts the user of a potential or perceived risk in their operational environment and/or provides an actionable solution as close to real-time as possible. Think of a simple wrist band that flashes when air quality dips below a preset level. Or a wearable sensor that buzzes if a coworker gets too close. For that matter, a first aid app on your iPhone that integrates with 911 fits the bill as well.
More robust examples include technology that can prevent ergonomic injuries before they happen by monitoring the user’s movements and sending real-time alerts when things don’t look quite right. Couple that with proximity and environmental alerts, like our FUSE Sensor, and you’re looking at a comprehensive solution for keeping people safer at work than ever before.
More than hardware
Safety wearables are only as good as the data they provide. The best safety sensors act as a portal to a wealth of individual safety data that can set a benchmark for behavior not just for that worker, but for an entire facility or organization. It’s one thing to say you want a safer workforce; it’s another thing entirely to look at a daily safety report showing you an exact map of how to get there.
Just as critically, then, is the data’s ability to scale. StrongArm’s data algorithm has been put to the test by Walmart, the world’s largest private employer, over the past three years and going strong. In the first year of that program, our FUSE safety wearables were on 200 bodies in two facilities, decreasing ergonomic-related injuries by more than 64%. Today, they’re in 18 facilities spanning more than 6,000 associates.
Productive, not punitive
Safety wearables, worn on the body for a full shift that collect a litany of individual safety data? If your knee-jerk reaction is to wave one big privacy red flag, you’re not alone. And honestly, we don’t blame you.
The line between productivity and safety is often a blurry one. And while we certainly won’t vouch for other tech in the space, our stance on the issue has been clear since our founding: The data we collect is anonymous and strictly intended for proactive workplace safety solutions. We’ve even gone so far as to write this into all of our client contracts. If we discover our data is being used for any punitive measures, we have grounds to terminate the contract immediately.
In the end, safety wearables are intended to keep Industrial Athletes™ protected and productive while at work by providing the users with real-time alerts and management with the actionable data they need to establish a safety benchmark from the moment of deployment. As StrongArm founder Sean Petterson puts it, “It’s a lack of understanding the problem – not a lack of desire to solve it – that leads to workplace injuries.”