Worker Safety Gear Moves to the Digital Age
January 22, 2020
Rapidly developing technology is transforming the landscape of occupational safety and health. To improve worker safety, developers are moving traditional personal protective equipment (PPE) into the digital age by adding electronic components, such as sensors and actuators. Information recorded by these devices can alert employers to safety issues, such as worker fatigue, gear that needs maintenance, and improperly fitting equipment. However, despite the advantages of digital safety gear, concerns about privacy, as well as several other barriers to implementation, remain.
Recent Developments in Personal Protective Technology
Companies are continuing to develop and advance PPE that will effectively keep workers safe. Some recent developments in the industry include:
- Fall protection: Falls from heights is one of the most common types of workplace accidents, especially in the construction industry where it is among the top fatal four causes of worker deaths. Employers may now provide workers with increased protection in the form of electronic sensors attached to lifeline cable systems and gear monitoring systems.
- Fatigue monitors: According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), fatigue causes reduced productivity and can lead to various health problems, including heart disease, cancer, musculoskeletal disorders, and worsening of existing chronic diseases. In addition to encouraging employers to get a good night’s sleep, having adequate lighting in the workplace, and providing frequent breaks, employers can now use technology to monitor and mitigate worker fatigue.
- Smart clothing: Companies are continuing to develop and improve smart PPE. Traditional PPE and clothing now come with built-in electronic devices designed to reduce workplace accidents and injuries. Such wearable technology includes eyewear, helmets, gloves, and shoes.
- Parts-to-person systems: According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), approximately 3.9 million Americans work as hand laborers and material movers. Many warehouse and distribution centers have begun to implement parts-to-person systems, which allow workers to remain stationary while picking items for orders, thereby increasing efficiency and protecting workers from fatigue and injury.
Barriers to Implementation
The American Society of Safety Professionals (ASSP) reports that the incidence of workplace accidents and injuries is significantly reduced by identifying worker fatigue and implementing a risk management system.
Although there are many safety benefits to digitalized worker safety gear, both employers and workers express concerns about implementation, including privacy and confidentiality. Smart devices collect sensitive health information; many are concerned about how that information will be used and protected. Other barriers to implementation include:
- Employee compliance
- Sensor durability
- Accuracy of data
- Establishing workplace safety standards
Despite both employer and employee efforts, workplace accidents still occur. Regardless of who is at fault for a workplace accident, an injured employee is generally still entitled to compensation. If you were injured at work, you may need an attorney to help you collect all the workers’ compensation benefits for which you are eligible.
Philadelphia Workers’ Compensation Lawyers at Larry Pitt & Associates, P.C. Help Injured Workers with Their Claims
If you sustained an on-the-job injury, contact the Philadelphia workers’ compensation lawyers at Larry Pitt & Associates, P.C. Our experienced attorneys can help ensure that your rights are protected and that you receive the maximum available compensation in your case. For a free consultation, complete our online contact form or call us at 888-PITT-LAW.
Located in Philadelphia, Bensalem, Lansdowne, and Reading, we represent injured workers in Berks County, Bucks County, Chester County, Delaware County, Montgomery County, Philadelphia County, and throughout Pennsylvania, including those in the communities of Abington, Ambler, Ardmore, Bala Cynwyd, Bensalem, Clifton Heights, Crum Lynne, Darby, Downingtown, Doylestown, Drexel Hill, Essington, Folcroft, Glenolden, Haverford, Havertown, Holmes, Kutztown, Lansdowne, Media, Merion Station, Morton, Narberth, Norristown, Norwood, Philadelphia, Prospect Park, Quakertown, Reading, Roxborough, Sharon Hill, Upper Darby, West Chester, and Wynnewood.