The Role of Emerging Technologies in Health and Safety Management
Blog | February 3rd, 2021

The Role of Emerging Technologies in Health and Safety Management

Emerging from the pandemic’s grappling hands, workplace safety and employee well-being have become essential in removing employees’ anxiety when coming back to work. As employers commence return-to-work programs, the need for health and safety should be about creating employee awareness by imparting a collaborative culture of safety in the company. Promoting healthy indoor environment through ventilation and continuous monitoring of indoor environmental quality aids in mitigating health risks to yield long-term benefits for occupant health.

To increase employee loyalty and wellness, businesses have to move from traditionally siloed safety systems. Technologies such as the Internet of Things (IoT) have emerged as a clear winner where sensors in various devices interact with one another to monitor different aspects of environmental quality, from volatile organic compounds (VOCs) to CO2, temperature, and humidity. According to a recent PwC survey, approximately 70% of manufacturers plan to increase their IoT investment in the next two years as the benefits exceed the risks and/or cost. This localized monitoring method using analytics can help to identify and troubleshoot issues at the micro-level, thus improving employee retention as well as regulatory compliance.

Of course, at the core of all this is employee well-being. Your people know that you care about them and are taking all precautions to ensure a safe work environment.

In this blog, we highlight the adoption of some key technologies in the world of health and safety management.

Trend #1: The Usage of IoT-enabled Devices

IoT innovations in health and safety are effective, affordable, and more productive than human or physical barriers on site. Sensors and apps interact with each other to monitor equipment and environmental performance and alert workers and supervisors of potential hazards in real-time. This helps safety personnel be more effective and less intrusive at the same time.

Some of the advantages of using IoT-enabled technology in Health & Safety (H&S) Management include:

  • Reduced costs as wearable tech devices are becoming affordable. Carefully monitoring the health parameters of your people, especially in locations like factories, oil rigs or mines, will certainly help increase employee well-being and early detection of health challenges.
  • Better accessibility & analytics of safety-related data as smart IoT infrastructure transmits data from the sensors to the cloud automatically. Going a step further, the analysis of this data can be automated, predictive insights can be drawn out for further analysis by leaders.
  • Enhanced visibility into workers’ health and the work environment gives management the opportunity to make data-driven decisions that protect the safety and health of the employees.

Core Elements of IoT in Safety

Industry experts and businesses alike are focusing on health and safety beyond the needs of regulatory compliance. IoT-led innovations help managers improve safety by reducing incidents, mitigating potential risks, and creating tangible results such as higher profit margins and cost reduction. To that end, three core elements have made IoT improve workplace safety. These include:

  • Predictive analysis for continuous improvement (CI) – In addition to alerting about an unsafe condition, IoT data helps identify areas of improvement
  • Leading indicators – These indicators are proactive, preventive, and predictive measures that help provide information related to the effective performance of health and safety activities. It is critical to understand what is working well and continue to invest in those areas.
  • Contextual functioning – IoT tools are most effective when analyzing contextual data points such as geolocation, worksite maps, and individualized worker health data

Trend #2: The Emergence of Smart PPEs

The concern over employee safety at the workplace may lead to increased operational costs for reasons such as compensation for workers and productivity loss. This is driving the need for smart personal protective equipment (PPE). PPE clothing plays a significant role as workers such as firefighters, miners, and personnel working amidst hazardous substances or chemicals start returning to offices or plants. Today, forward-thinking employers are investing in smart PPEs. In May 2020, a report from Technavio stated that the global Smart PPE market is expected to grow at a CAGR of over 11% between 2020 and 2024.

With IoT-integrated PPE, employee health and safety can be ensured at all times. Wearable technology such as tracking devices, sensors, and monitors can feed data from the tech-infused PPE to provide insights on worker conditions and create alerts in case of any potential threats they may come across in their environment.

Trend #3: Next-gen Tech in Safety Training

Safety training is often criticized as a waste of time that doesn’t include enough real-world experience or examples. Existing and traditional training aids such as presentations and classroom sessions lack context and are very easy to forget. The limitations of traditional training have allowed technology to take a giant leap in employee workplace safety training. Acting as an interim step between the classroom and the real-world training using technology such as AR or VR allows trainees to get closer to real-world experiences without exposing them to real-world dangers. It is also observed that this immersive experience helps with better memory retention. Some of the current uses of technology in safety training are —

  • Augmented Reality (AR) helps instruct workers. With AR, users can hold up a mobile or tablet screen to view a live camera with overlays
  • With Virtual Reality (VR), users wear hardware like gloves and goggles to view and experience a simulated world
  • Dangerous situation simulation is about experiencing ‘staged’ scenarios that help employees base their onsite decisions on experience versus what they have been told
  • On-demand training lower the logistical and administrative expenses associated with training by getting a safety training technology that works on demand

Trend #4: Cloud-based Health & Safety Management Systems are Going Mainstream

A safety management system such as the one from ComplianceQuest, built on the cloud-based, enables integrating the IoT-generated data to prevent incidents proactively. ComplianceQuest is packed with next-generation capabilities with features such as analytics and dashboards, safety notifications and collaborations, and mobile access. ComplianceQuest’s platform also serves as a “single source of truth” for all health and safety data. By implementing a cloud-based health and safety program, businesses can reduce costs due to injury, improve safety culture, and enable informed health and safety-related decision-making processes for an efficient and effective operation by identifying areas of potential risk and implementing mitigative measures. Leveraging next-generation technology, this system focuses on automation that helps organizations stay ahead through a risk-based approach, thus improving safety outcomes.

Benefits of Adopting ComplianceQuest’s Safety Management System (SMS)

  • The transition from a paper-based system to the digital world makes life easier for safety leaders
  • Assess the ongoing performance of your equipment and assets, digitally, ensuring equipment maintenance, etc. are all on track. This is critical from a safety perspective
  • Record incidents, analyze and take a proactive step towards reducing incidents
  • Seamless document control, change management, CAPA and more
  • Effective monitoring with powerful reporting, and dashboards that facilitate continuous improvement

This blog is based on the webinar ‘Safety and Health Technology Trends to Watch in the 2020s’

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