Wearables make possible new levels of employee health and safety
Often the last considered and least glamorous aspect of healthcare, workplace health and safety, may soon become a significant contributor to improved national health – thanks to the use of wearable technologies.
Clearly, employers stand to benefit from using digital means to monitor and thereby reduce the health effects of the workplace on employees and pre-empt accidents and injuries. Productivity will improve, as will morale. From a national perspective, any reduction in the need to treat and compensate for workplace illness and injuries enables the redirection of funds to areas of healthcare where conditions may be less preventable. Society as a whole benefits.
Prevention is better than cure
Wearables slot neatly into the general principle dominating healthcare delivery today: forestalling health issues by increasing people’s fitness and improving their lifestyles.
This trend is most obvious in the sports sector, where health experts have for some time been using technology, including wearables, to monitor athletes’ physical activity and diet.
Large medical schemes have followed suit, using wearables to track their members’ vital signs and overall health in relation to their activities. Incentives for members to participate include loyalty-based rewards, expanded benefits, and, through the schemes’ partnerships with third parties, lifestyle bargains.
But, adoption of wearables in the workplace has been slow.
In part, this is because the available technologies are point solutions and consumer focused. Theoretically, there have been no industrial-strength, integrated platforms on which applications can be deployed to pre-emptively monitor employee health in direct relation to specific jobs or environments.
So, again theoretically, there has been no way to capture and analyse data that would enable identification and remediation of any but the most obvious workplace health and safety challenges. And, of course, it’s not been possible to integrate such data into human resources or production planning systems to ensure that productivity, human resources, and health and safety initiatives are properly aligned.
Now, however, the Tour de France cycle race has demonstrated that, whatever the conditions in which data is generated, an existing enterprise-strength network and cloud digital solution coupled with managed services can be easily adapted to provide a platform suitable to the needs of any business discipline.
For the Tour de France (TdF), millions of pieces of data were relayed in real-time from devices in the cyclists’ saddles to an aeroplane following the race and, from there, to a mobile data truck in which the data was analysed and packaged for an audience of millions served by television, social networks, and the print media.
By extrapolation, therefore, data generated by very small devices attached to individual employees on the move out in the field, in underground mines, on construction sites, or on oil rigs in the ocean can be transmitted, captured, analysed, and acted upon in real-time. Dimension Data has therefore extended the TdF platform to support these enterprise and industrial use-cases.
In this context, wearables represent the future of health and safety.
The way they are applied will be limited only to the degree that a technology partner can provide a corporate-grade, end to end, secure digital solution encompassing communications technology, the cloud, next generation data centres, application development, and wearables management.
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