"Zero” Is A Viable Safety Goal
Workplace safety has always been acknowledged as a concern in almost every industrial sector and as COVID 19 gripped the world, new forms of threats to be countered at the workplace became apparent. The need to create hazard-free workplaces focused on securing employee well-being while enabling better productivity has now become more important than ever before.
Technology is proving to be a game-changer in enabling safer work environments for several industries where hazards are common, even in the face of unique challenges and conditions. Each day, technology is finding both niche and wider applications in securing workplaces and saving the lives of workers. We are in (hopefully) the post-pandemic age and so much has changed in attitudes towards worker safety. The pandemic served as an eye-opener for organizations about the value of using technology to enable a secure and safe workplace for every employee under extremely challenging conditions. Technology made it safer for people to come back to work and helped organizations build comprehensive strategies for enforcing social distancing and allowing contact tracing.
As more organizations realize the value of digital transformation in driving up operational efficiencies and improving employee experience, workplace safety too looks set to ride the digital wave for better outcomes.
That’s the situation in which the National Safety Council (NSC), the USA’s leading non-profit organization for workplace safety advocacy for over 100 years, is holding the second edition of the Work to Zero Summit.
Obviously, the Work to Zero Summit by NSC on 24th and 25th February too takes a digital turn this year by moving to a completely virtual format. Given our mission to create powerful solutions that save worker’s lives, Guardhat is delighted to be a part of this digital event. We are happy to showcase all the possibilities of putting technology to use to create a safer workplace experience.
The event is conceived to create a platform for industry leaders to learn about how technology can make the workplace safer. The first edition in February of 2020 gave insights into how innovative technology like AI, Wearables, IoT, etc. could be leveraged by organizations to build a highly secure workplace environment for employees engaged in hazardous jobs and routines. The key objective of the Work to Zero Summit this year is to facilitate the emergence of a maturity model for safety in the workplace that blends technology and best practices in industrial safety. As the name suggests, the aim is nothing less than defined and monitored progress towards the goal of Zero workplace casualties.
The road to Zero workplace casualty might sound like an impossible dream, but we firmly believe it is a viable goal thanks to the several advancements that have been made in safety with the aid of modern technology. A few of the groundbreaking technologies that are already saving lives across industries include:
IoT-enabled workplaces and safety gear are helping companies reduce the exposure of employees to hazardous work conditions like extreme heat or toxic environment, even deep within mines or for lone employees out in the field. Safety planners and managers can get insights into conditions much earlier with the help of sensors and connected facilities. They can better plan employee deployment at such sites and enable faster response to emergencies by having precise knowledge of where an event has occurred or where a worker is located. IoT is playing a role in improving monitoring, tracking, and data-gathering in industries ranging from construction to mining and industrial forestry.
One of the benefits of using technology like IoT is the tremendous amounts of data that can be captured. Data lets you know exactly how many people are at the location and where they are. You could get a clear picture of the status of machines, mobile equipment, the status of ongoing work, repairs and maintenance activities, and conditions at various places. Such rich data can form the foundation for better planning of worker deployment, evacuations, and safety-related strategies.
That apart, by analyzing the available data, AI can be used to predict conditions within hazardous environments or potential consequences from worker behavior or equipment conditions. This allows organizations to simulate working models and build robust work plans, maintenance schedules, and operating strategies and guidelines that best suit their productivity norms while ensuring that employees are kept out of harm’s way at all times.
Smart Glasses are enabling many powerful “connected worker” use-cases. Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) can enable better training experiences for workers and prepare them better for tough conditions. Organizations can also offer live interactive support in real-time to help employees perform jobs quicker and more safely.
Using state-of-the-art digital checklists integrated with employee wearables, organizations ensure that only the most apt candidates are deployed for tough work conditions and that they are equipped with all the right gear for the job. Doing all this manually could create gaps due to human error and compromise adherence to safety protocols. Digital platforms are more comprehensive and can notify the stakeholders on any departure from the norms and ensure that gaps are filled before they cause any damage.
The technology trends explored here are just a sample of what technology can do to ensure worker safety across industries. The implications are wide-ranging even if you consider only technologies that are already out there and proven. It’s fair to expect technology will improve, integrations will become more common, and more specific-purpose solutions will evolve. This is just a milestone to a future with zero worker casualties. That’s a viable and achievable goal. It’s time to “Work to Zero”