A 20-year-old carpenter was working for a construction company that was building an apartment building. While he was trying to install temporary supports for the roof trusses, he fell through the second story stairway opening and landed on the first-floor concrete walkway. He suffered a skull fracture and other serious injuries.
One of the main assets of any organization is its workforce. Accidents such as the one mentioned above not only have monetary implications to the organization, but also affect the morale of the workforce. Although machines are becoming advanced, autonomous and valuable, humans will continue to be the most important assets for the organizations. Therefore, it is fast becoming imperative for the organizations to invest in improving safety and productivity of the human workforce.
This is where the term “Connected Worker” or “Connected Industrial Worker”, is fast becoming popular in different industries. The connected worker solutions ensure that the workers are reachable at all times. These solutions help organizations adhere to the safety norms set by the regulatory authorities. Furthermore, the wearables enable the supervisors to effectively allocate tasks among the workers based on their skills, experience, and location; thus, improving the productivity. These solutions comprise of smart industrial wearables such as hardhats and harnesses. These are equipped with sensors and modern communication devices such as smart watches for handsfree communication. The supervisors’ devices have real-time dashboards and alerts for effective management and task allocation. Industries such as mining, energy, utilities, and manufacturing are actively using such solutions.
Here are some statistics, which prove the importance of safety solutions in organizations. · Employers paid $51.1 billion in 2010 — for direct workers compensation (1) · The monetary value of each life lost is $8.7 million (2) · 321,000 people die each year from occupational accidents (4)· Every 15 seconds, 151 workers have a work-related accident which amounts to 317 million incidents annually(3)
These numbers only substantiate the need for technologies, which enhance the safety of the workers. However, the practice of ensuring the workers reach home safe to their families with a sense of achievement, in itself should be sufficient for the organizations to embrace these solutions.
These solutions also come with challenges, which can affect implementation. Some of the issues are -
- Resistance of the workers to adopt and use new technologies
- Geo-galactic reach and multi-lingual/localization challenges
- Battery life, screen size and accessibility of devices
- Vulnerability of data
- Low literacy rate among the blue collared workers
- Apprehension of workers towards using wearable devices
- Low ROI and long breakeven times for the organizations
An ideal connected worker solution should be worker friendly while being economical for the organization. It should aid workers in their tasks and make them feel safe using them. The organizations should be able to acknowledge the safety and productivity improvements in a measurable way. To summarize, the organizations and industries should be able to quantitatively establish a decisive level of Overall Personnel Effectiveness (OPE) by using the “Connected Worker” solutions.