Over a million workers suffered back injuries last year, costing U.S. firms over $70 billion. A single incident can cost a firm over $6,000. Why are there so many back injuries? How can IoT help reduce injuries and expenses?
The demand to work faster often causes bad lifting habits. Couple this with bad operations design, and you can see why there are so many back injuries. The Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) recommends ergonomic equipment and workflow design to reduce the physical demands on workers. To begin with, it helps to know which activities and equipment cause the most injuries to workers.
To determine that, you need to monitor workers without interfering, alert workers when their incorrect lifting posture might cause and injury, and analyze workers' movements and the plants in which they work to design safer environments. Enter IoT—sensors, analytics and alerting systems.
Wearable devices with gyroscopic (body posture), altimeter (height) and magnetometer (alignment) sensors are used to monitor how a worker’s back moves and bends. The information collected is either stored on the device and transmitted to the cloud at the end of the shift or transmitted continuously. Bluetooth low energy (BLE) is often used for communications because it conserves energy on the sensors, which have limited battery power. The sensor data is analyzed in the cloud to generate safety alerts for workers and operations dashboards for management.
The demand on workers to do more and handle heavier packages contribute to the increase in back injuries. But the need for increased productivity should never come at the expense of worker health and safety. Affordable IoT solutions that monitor and encourage workers to safer habits can make a difference.
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