Using Wearables to Boost Employee Safety


It is no secret that wearable technology is all the rage these days.  From the Apple Watch to Fitbit, millions of people worldwide are tethered to their wearables.  In fact, Global Industry Analysts Inc. predicts the worldwide wearables market will exceed $30 billion by 2020.  The proliferation of all these sensor-based devices and instant communication networks would make Captain Kirk proud!

New Uses for Wearables

It is apparent that people are comfortable with wearable technology, which means that the time is ripe to expand the functionality into new and different use cases.  One such area is restoration safety – specifically, utilizing wearables to monitor lineman safety in the field.

The technology could encompass hats, bracelets, gloves or other articles of clothing that monitor physiological patterns, movement and velocity, fatigue, and a plethora of other metrics in real time to continuously analyze employee safety.  These readings can then be transmitted to a central monitoring facility where designated employees can take specific courses of action based on specific patterns of data.

As you can probably tell, I love this idea!  I don’t care whether we’re talking water, gas or electricity, when field crews are restoring service, safety is priority #1.  Anything that can be used for improving safety performance while at the same time being completely unobtrusive is a no-brainer.  Eventually, these devices will likely come equipped with video functionality to automatically assess damage and provide instant visual evidence of any unsafe practices or environments.

Of course, mass deployment of safety wearables will have challenges – such as information overload, setting up systems and processes to properly address the data, and training employees on proper use.  But in my opinion, these challenges are easily overcome.  I hope we see more of this moving forward!

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