Technology continues to evolve at a rapid pace, affecting both our personal and professional lives. In the workplace, technology can be leveraged to majorly reduce the rates of injuries, illness, and death.
The safety industry is expected to undergo several developments in the coming years. In honor of National Safety Month, let's take stock of where we are and how safety professionals are using technology to make their workplaces safer.
The Most Important Safety Trends of the Last Year
1. Safety Data Reporting
If we truly want to make our workplaces safer, collecting sufficient high-quality data should be a priority.
A lot of organizations are realizing this. According to the American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE), we should see an increase in companies adding safety data into their corporate sustainability reporting in 2018.
Public reporting of safety data can help improve worker safety across the world by allowing companies to compare safety outcomes. With sufficient data reporting, industry leaders can identify the areas that need the most improvement and work together to develop effective solutions.
The data can then be used to evaluate those solutions. After they are implemented, new data can be collected and compared to the data gathered before the adjustment was made in order to measure the effectiveness of the changes. Ideally, the changes that result in substantial improvements to workplace safety can eventually be written into law (find out How Predictive Analytics Is Changing the Game for Safety Reporting Best Practices).
2. More Occupational Safety and Health Research
On a related note, industry professionals anticipate an increase in occupational health and safety research in 2018.
In order to improve workplace safety as much as possible, it’s crucial to gather as much information as possible. Thorough research can identify the safety practices that work and help us apply evidence-based practices to reduce accidents, incidents, and near misses in the workplace (learn more about Near Misses: What They Are and Why You Should Report Them).
Furthermore, research findings can be used to convince employers of other ways that improved safety will benefit their businesses. Proper safety precautions can, for instance, increase profits, ensure product quality and reliability, improve worker productivity, efficiency, job satisfaction, and boost the company's reputation within the industry.
Finally, research can also make a strong case for safety and health management systems and programs designed to train employees in safety best practices by demonstrating their effectiveness.
3. Advances in Sensor Technology
The Content Portfolio Advisory Group (CPAG) has identified sensor technology and big data as one of its four main areas of focus for workplace safety.
Last year, DHL Supply Chain, a contract logistics company, finished a pilot project at their Regional Center in Singapore. This project sought to determine how Internet of Things (IOT) technology could be used to make their warehouses safer for their employees.
This project succeeded in preventing accidents by analyzing data from wearable wireless sensors. These sensors measured employee fatigue levels, suggested rest periods, and sent out alerts when employees were near moving equipment.
DHL is currently using this technology to monitor operational activities in real time with heat maps and visualization tools. The goal is to make their warehouses run as efficiently and safely as possible.
We expect the use of sensor technology to become a popular tool for improving workplace safety across the globe.
4. Improvements to Safety Training
With the introduction of new technology like sensors, we need to make sure employees are properly trained in the use of new devices, work processes, and best practices involving advanced, data-collecting technology.
With innovation comes a period of adjustment before the new changes take root and yield results. Training logistics workers and other employees in new safety technology will be the cornerstone of improved workplace safety in 2018 and beyond.