Using modern technology, including augmented reality (AR) and robotics, not only increases productivity. It's also an effective way to make your workplace a safe and comfortable experience. For this purpose, both software platforms and different types of pluggable devices are successfully used.
Cloud technologies can effectively process large amounts of data and reduce possible risks. Additionally, employee engagement is also increased because such innovation in safety and technology can be used for training.
Modern technology and programming can benefit workplace safety and help create tools that can be used for process monitoring, targeted training, and real-time communication between employees.
How Technology Affects Employee Safety
The main areas of cloud technology, specialized software, robotics, and AR implementation are as follows:
Increasing safety culture. It is the high level of engagement, as well as awareness of all employees of the company, that is an effective prevention of injuries or other accidents. This also contributes to the proper use of working time;
Data centralization as a way to improve safety. Real-time data transfer software and data sharing help reduce risks. Data recording for compliance, collecting data from various devices, creating real-time incident reports, and evaluating data logs get automated;
Increased productivity with full workflow visibility. Cloud-based software is used to develop proactive maintenance plans for production equipment. Such plans greatly reduce the risk of downtime;
Providing time-critical responses to emergencies. Some production facilities require the use of sensors with real-time data transmission. Your safety manager will instantly receive a "man down" alert or an alarm button push signal, reducing the time it takes to detect a problem to a minimum;
Improved access to on-demand data. Security managers or supervisors don't have to wait for an incident report to be generated because the data is sent immediately to a smartphone or tablet at any time.
Technology also provides high-speed connectivity, which is an essential element of a safe and comfortable workspace, including for remote employees.
5 Ways to Increase Workspace Safety
Each area of activity requires technological solutions. With the proper selection, they can fully solve the following three basic tasks:
Company management must develop its IT strategy to solve all of the above + other relevant security tasks.
3D visualization in manufacturing can provide a complete digital simulation of the work environment. Such software simultaneously records images from two angles, resulting in the most believable visuals.
3D visualization is successfully used to solve the following two primary tasks:
On-job training of employees. Realistic digital imitation of the working environment is used, among other things, to familiarize employees with possible dangers (e.g., in manufacturing). This helps them develop an algorithm for safe work;
Control of the working environment in mining and other high-risk industries, where people must work in secluded or hard-to-reach places. To keep accidents and workplace injuries to a minimum, digital visualization helps safety managers identify potential risks and, based on their analysis, develop the safest work practices.
3D visualization software can also notify safety managers exactly what safety equipment employees need to prevent accidents.
Additionally, such software is used to simulate the design of a specific manufacturing process. Possible risks are better identified in advance by testing safety techniques in a particular environment.
Real-Time Data Communication Technology
Various communication applications are a way to collect data in real-time. This way, the management of a company or enterprise can get complete information about the health/safety level of employees in their workplace.
For this, web apps and motion sensors effectively transmit information about employees' workspaces. Moreover, with the help of such solutions, businessmen can analyze potential risks and develop efficient strategies to prevent them.
For example, if an employee suffered an employment-related accident, data from motion sensors can be used to analyze precisely what movements of the employee triggered the accident. Safety managers can then use such data to train other employees, preventing such incidents in the future.
Safety Inspections with Drones
Unmanned aerial vehicles (also known as drones) can improve safety on the job site, especially for large production sites. UAVs are guided remotely or autonomously to collect and timely deliver information and access dangerous objects (e.g., hazardous waste facilities).
An essential advantage of such multi-copter solutions is the individually selectable image format. This includes capturing additional angles and getting detailed data on a specific area of the image (if necessary).
How drones can be used for industrial safety:
Measuring and transmitting data on hazardous emissions in manufacturing. Drones can easily navigate their way between factory pipes, tower cranes, and other objects on a construction site or in an industrial area;
Assessing the condition of hard-to-reach facilities on the job site. UAVs facilitate the process of inspecting bridges, towers, and other similar facilities;
Evaluating large industrial areas. During the inspection, UAVs produce real-time and high-quality images. Thus, you can inspect all the objects in detail and efficiently inspect your industrial space. There is no need to use scaffolding or construction crane arms;
In the construction industry, drones can also be used to digitize data and create a three-dimensional map or digital model of an object;
Conducting accurate measurements. UAVs are effective at high altitudes or in other unsafe work situations.
Mining drones can also fly without GPS and collect data in areas where humans cannot enter. Surveyors can use UAVs to reduce such risks as crumbling rocks, chemical waste, gas leaks, or dust explosions.
Site safety can be improved by removing humans from the inspection process and switching to remote monitoring. The same goes for saving time and reducing operating costs. All results get recorded and stored for further analysis.
Safety apps have been developed for various areas of operation to solve problems related to different workspaces quickly. As a security manager, with such a software solution, you can soon get all the necessary information with a single tap on your smartphone screen.
There are these types of security apps:
The primary purpose of using security apps is to make accessing information about potential risks associated with various work processes as easy as possible.
That said, security applications can:
Identify types of hazards;
Take and store photos of a specific workspace, its areas, and work results;
Create a health and safety checklist;
Measure the progress of project milestones.
The safety app can also record information, passing it on to company management if an unforeseen situation arises. Also, such tools can make it easier to manage various health and safety operations and the overall well-being of employees.
Here's a list of popular security apps for smartphones:
SafetyCulture is an app for regular safety audits in a workspace. You can use it to create individual safety checklists, take photos and videos of hazards, and attach the latter to the results of inspections. Plus, there's also the ability to make adjustments and edits, as well as identify and analyze incident patterns;
The NIOSH Pocket Guide to Chemical Hazards (NPG) is a mobile app used to inform employees about workplace chemicals and their hazards. All information in the app is based on data published by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). The app can be used to recognize and control workplace chemical hazards and has industrial hygiene information for hundreds of chemicals/classes. Thus, managers can choose the best personal protective equipment;
The NIOSH Ladder Safety app. A particular application that helps you set an extension ladder at the safest possible angle of 75.5 degrees. The app offers functions to check the correct installation of an extension ladder with sound, vibration, and/or visual alerts. The app is designed to improve extension and step ladder safety and includes valuable tips on proper work planning, necessary tools, and materials;
SHEQSY by SafetyCulture is a unique app designed for remote employees working in areas with a high level of potential danger to monitor their safety and transmit information to safety managers. Key features of the app include customizable action types, logging intervals, and preset periods. You can also send coercion alerts using the QuickPanic widget, as well as view your entire activity history;
First Aid: American Red Cross. This official app from American Red Cross can instantly provide vital information from experts on handling everyday first aid situations, including training videos, tips, and interactive tests.
This doesn't seem to be relevant to professionals working in the office. For example, developers or SEO specialists do not have such a high need for mobile safety apps as they do for solutions that facilitate their operations, such as development tools or proxy services offered by Infatica.io or other providers. But this is not true. Some of the applications on this list can also be useful, even for remote employees.
Company executives and safety managers must select a list of mobile safety apps for their areas of expertise. Once done, such a list can be recommended to employees to create a safe workspace.
Virtual and Augmented Reality
VR and AR solutions are a way to train employees to react to potentially dangerous situations via realistic simulations of workspaces. This is much more efficient than reading tutorials and taking tests afterward.
VR tools involve complete immersion and exclusion of the physical world. Virtual reality solutions like the HTC Vive, Oculus Rift, or Google Cardboard can transport users into multiple real and imagined environments.
The primary uses of virtual reality include planning various industrial facilities and scenarios for preparing employees for potentially dangerous situations in manufacturing, construction sites, industrial areas, and other potentially hazardous conditions.
VR and AR technologies allow employees to:
Learn and experience various risky situations in completely safe virtual environments. This can be used for practical training, e.g. creating an escape plan in case of fire;
Reduce the risks of a potentially dangerous situation before starting work.
For the same purpose, augmented reality technology can be used. The main goal here is to add digital elements to the real world to be able to view images/videos in real-time. Both special glasses or a smartphone camera can be used for this purpose.
The possibilities of using AR to create a safe workspace are as follows:
Operators of complex technical equipment receive training that aims to alert about potentially dangerous situations, thus minimizing the risk of workplace accidents;
Conducting a potential risk assessment based on hazard data analysis;
Notification of potentially hazardous areas of the workspace to employees using special glasses.
Advantages of AR technology:
No risks during training. Trainees and future employees can fully practice the algorithm of behavior in dangerous situations while remaining completely safe;
Reduced training costs. AR technology does not require serious financial expenses - a smartphone camera is often more than sufficient;
Immersive training. Employees do not have to be physically present at the site. Instead, an interactive learning environment is used;
Reduced risk in the operation of equipment. Employees receive three-dimensional instructions and, if necessary, information about the product.
It is also possible to standardize training since employees of several companies use the same training modules simultaneously.
Modern technologies for business are used not only to improve the productivity of work processes but also to protect employees' health and ensure a safe workplace. This is one of the main priorities because comfort and employees' productivity depend directly on it.
Such a working environment is characterized by maximum safety and immersive workplaces, minimizing potential risks.
The most widespread ways of application are constant monitoring of employees' safety and training. Drones, software and mobile security applications, 3D visualization, and real-time data transfer technology can be used in various situations.
Roy Emmerson is a passionate technology enthusiast with a deep interest in software development. In addition to being a skilled programmer at a custom software company, he is also a loving father of twins who inspire him to stay up-to-date with the latest technological advancements. With his co-founding of TechTimes.com, Roy has a keen eye for identifying emerging trends and innovations in the tech industry.