Empowering Workplace Safety
The fusion of artificial intelligence (AI) and wearable technologies offers tremendous potential for improving workplace safety, health, and productivity. In industries with physically demanding jobs, such as logistics, warehousing, manufacturing, and mining, companies face significant challenges related to Musculoskeletal Disorders (MSDs). This article explores the major challenges of the manual workforce and highlights how AI and wearables can address these issues to reduce injuries, mitigate costs, and foster a safer work environment.
Challenges Faced in Workplaces
Labor shortages: Finding and retaining skilled manual workers is a difficult task for many industries. The scarcity of qualified individuals intensifies competition and increases the burden of managing MSDs within the workforce.
Aging workforce: Certain industries rely heavily on aging employees. As these workers approach retirement, finding suitable replacements with the necessary skills and experience becomes a daunting challenge, impacting workforce sustainability and MSD risk mitigation.
Safety risks: Manual labor jobs entail physically demanding tasks, posing a persistent concern regarding injuries, absenteeism, and high turnover rates. Workplace injuries are commonly caused by high-risk postures, repetitive motions, and heavy lifting. These injuries not only result in substantial costs and legal complications but also have a detrimental impact on employee morale.
According to estimates from the European Agency for Safety and Health at Work, roughly three out of every five workers in Europe report MSD complaints [Resource].
Transitioning to a Proactive Approach
To effectively tackle these challenges, companies must shift from a reactive to a proactive approach to workplace safety. By leveraging objective data, prioritizing prevention, and implementing ergonomic practices, companies can significantly reduce the financial burden, legal risks, and negative impact on employee well-being associated with MSDs
Data-driven Safety: AI and Wearable Technologies for Risk Reduction and Injury Prevention
To reduce injuries and improve working conditions, a data-driven approach can be adopted with three key steps:
- Needs Analysis: Begin by identifying potential risks and selecting effective strategies for injury prevention. This entails a thorough examination of existing work practices and the utilization of AI-based analytics tools to pinpoint both current and emerging risks. The result of this comprehensive analysis quantifies the impact of tasks on workers and offers potential solutions for risk reduction. Effective measures may include:
- Real-time Posture Training: Employ smart wearables with AI and haptic feedback to guide workers in performing tasks ergonomically. This technology provides real-time guidance, ensuring correct postures and reducing the risk of injuries.
- Exoskeleton Support: Implement exosuits to alleviate strains caused by heavy and repetitive duties. These supportive devices offload physical impacts, reducing the risk of injuries and enhancing worker performance.
- Process and Ergonomics Optimizations: Gain objective insights into work processes and ergonomics to identify areas for improvement. By optimizing these aspects, the risk of injury can be minimized, and overall safety and productivity can be enhanced.
- Solution Validation: Once potential solutions have been identified, validate their effectiveness, usability, and integrability within specific work processes. Create a structured action plan to evaluate and select solutions using both subjective and objective data for informed decision-making.
- Implementation and Optimization: With a solution in place, focus on a step-by-step implementation strategy to improve safety performance and foster lasting behavioral change across the organization. Utilize a data-driven approach supported by clear key performance indicators (KPIs) and a comprehensive dashboard displaying real-time data for swift assessments.
Following this data-driven approach to safety, organizations can proactively address workplace risks, protect employee well-being, and drive sustainable improvements in safety and performance.
WearHealth Platform: End-to-End Ergonomic Safety
WearHealth specializes in optimizing physically demanding jobs by proactively mitigating risks, enhancing workplace safety, and increasing productivity. With their data-driven solutions based on AI, wearables, and exoskeletons, companies can effectively prioritize the well-being of their front-line workers while minimizing risks and driving sustainable improvements in safety and performance.
Contact our team of experts to discover how we can help you take care of your workforce and create a safer work environment.
Empower sustainable workplaces for today and tomorrow!
By Dr. Esteban Bayro-Kaiseron June 26, 2023