All workplaces need to ensure their employees’ safety – but this is more complex in some industries than others. We often think of the Internet of Things as focused on driving process efficiencies or collecting data which feeds into new business processes – but it can also play a critical role in ensuring worker safety in complex scenarios. Here’s how.
The IoT can…prevent accidents from occurring in the first place
One of the most common causes of workplace accidents is faulty or poorly-maintained equipment. And one of the most common industrial applications of the IoT is using connected sensors to track the performance and condition of equipment over time, alerting the organisation as to when proactive maintenance should take place. This form of IoT, then, plays a substantial role in making workplaces safer.
The IoT can…fuel faster emergency response
Within organisation, networks of connected sensors can be set up to trigger alarms or alerts when certain emergencies take place, such as a worker falling from a height or atmospheric gas levels passing a certain threshold. This then enables the organisation to respond more quickly and thoroughly to such events, whether through an evacuation, medical attention or first aid.
Then there are emergency services themselves. Much experimentation is taking place using, for example, IoT-enables drones to find individuals who have suffered an accident more quickly, or to get critical medical equipment to the site of an emergency. All of these processes can streamline and speed up incident response, and make it more likely for workers to recover complete from a workplace accident.
The IoT can…learn from incidents and prevent them from repeating
High-speed, comprehensive reactivity is a crucial part of incident response, but so too is analysing that incident over the long-term and using that information to influence future workplace design or working practices.
One example would be analysing seismic activity during mining operations, and using that information to more accurately predict where shafts might be unstable.
The IoT can…monitor employee health and wellness on an ongoing basis
There are two main ways in which the IoT can monitor individual workers’ ongoing health and wellness. First, connected devices can be used to measure vital signs, such as heart rate and temperature, sounding an alert when particular points are triggered. This can be useful in identifying signs of fatigue early and therefore being more proactive about breaks and reassigning resource.
Second, connected devices can be used to monitor the environment around workers and provide alerts when this becomes unsafe. Again, temperature could be a key factor, as could radiation, oxygen levels, noise levels, humidity and pollutants. From construction sites to mines, factories to energy response, there are myriad different contexts in which these kinds of trackers can be invaluable. In turn, they prevent accidents and reduce incidences of illness.
The IoT can have a far more direct relationship with human wellbeing, health and safety than you might expert. Organisations all over the world are it to improve workplace safety and minimise the health risks and accidents which have been associated with particular professions.