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How to improve workplace safety with IoT

June 3, 2021
Andrii Rybakov

Working in the industrial environment is often dangerous, and facility managers intend to apply the appropriate solutions for reducing hazards, managing risks, and preventing accidents. The appearance of IoT has impacted workplace safety as it helps organizations improve working conditions, collect data, and streamline operations. In turn, that leads to a safe and secure work environment and allows eliminating costs related to employee injuries.

According to Statista, "discrete manufacturing, transportation & logistics, and utility industries are projected to spend $40 billion each on IoT platforms, systems, and services." That makes implementing IoT one of the most advanced approaches companies can use to increase safety. Although IoT devices cannot fully protect employees in high-risk industries from all categories of hazards, they help worksite managers address different preventable threats, monitor environmental conditions, track the physical health of workers, and limit risks.

So how can IoT devices improve workplace safety? What is the potential of IoT technology for predicting dangerous conditions and preventing accidents? Read in the blog post.

The ways to improve workplace safety with IoT

Making sure that the workplace is safe and secure is among the most critical things in all companies. Applying IoT can serve as an accident prevention program that organizations unify into their safety systems to enhance workplace safety. With the emerging IoT technologies, systems, devices, and real-time analytics, work environment safety has never been so high.

Here we detail some key ways how IoT can improve workplace safety:

Potential risk monitoring. Nowadays, forward-thinking organizations implement IoT technology to monitor workplace equipment through predictive maintenance. That allows noticing different structural failures in the connected devices before an accident occurs. Predictive maintenance also enables companies to take proactive actions depending on data patterns. Thanks to combining IoT and machine learning (ML) algorithms, companies can predict possible issues before they affect workers.

Instead of analyzing data and reports in a decentralized and manual way, IoT solutions and data analytics promote more centralized and comprehensive information monitoring and analysis. Thus, businesses have access to data that will help prevent risks by defining any potential accident, injury, loss, damage, or other safety issues. Predictive maintenance enables companies to understand when to replace critical parts due to the proper analysis of machine operating conditions. That also leads to reducing equipment downtime or unplanned repairs.

Employee health tracking. IoT-enabled wearable devices can measure different personal health indicators, including heartbeat, temperature, or even blood oxygen levels. That allows identifying workers with signs of strain, fatigue, stress, or other physical issues and when preventative actions are the most efficient. This approach helps understand better when managers should provide breaks and promote reassigning resources.

Modern wearable technology is among the most significant innovative trends related to IoT applications in the workplace. Specific mobile and smart devices with data sharing and management capabilities serve as effective approaches for companies to monitor the workers’ safety and well-being in the work environment. After all, organizations obtain many benefits from using such devices, including the increased operational movements’ visibility, streamlined processes that are more safe and efficient, and implemented on-site corrective actions.

Better understanding of the work environment. Organizations use environmental IoT sensors for monitoring potential hazards within the workplace, like carbon monoxide levels, temperature, or humidity. Besides, IoT systems prevent unpredictable gas releases by providing a quick response to temperature changes or variances regarding gas levels and sending automated alerts when issues occur. The ability to monitor containers or equipment remotely helps protect employees as it keeps them from inspecting dangerous environments personally.  

Increased speed of rescue operations. In the case of plant disasters or serious injuries, organizations can access the available real-time data immediately. That helps medical staff or rescue crews understand the emerged situation quickly and make an informed decision about implementing the most appropriate response plan. At the same time, GPS systems allow pinpointing the location of injured or trapped workers immediately and identifying the evacuation routes for them - for example, in the case of explosions or unplanned chemical releases.

Vehicle navigation. Companies use laser scanners to monitor vehicle or equipment navigation in warehouses and storage areas. That allows preventing collisions with other vehicles, along with keeping employees out of harm’s way. Scanners make such workplaces safer by defining the protruding objects that can serve as a potential source of collision. Also, combining monitoring equipment with radio frequency identification tags (RFID) makes it more efficient to track inventory and see how workers interact with the particular stock, equipment, or materials.

Fire accident prevention. Although workplace fires are usually accidental, organizations can use IoT devices with specific fire safety sensors to prevent them as early as possible. Thanks to IoT software, particular sensors can detect the increasing temperature, which is critical in indicating a possible fire in the work environment. Such early detection makes a significant difference while evacuating employees and triggering preventive measures. That rescues companies from total losses and allows managers to respond quickly.

The bottom line

Today, according to IoT analytics, the main driver for 24% of IoT projects in manufacturing, transportation & logistics, and utility industries is increasing overall safety. At the same time, IoT technology will continue to improve, which allows facility and worksite managers to apply various safety-focused devices. That enables companies to keep employees informed about the current conditions of the equipment or hazards that may appear.

Ultimately, workplace safety will depend on IoT technology in the future because the workplace injuries that IoT platforms, systems, or services prevent will cost much more compared to the lifetime expenses regarding IoT ownership. Besides, employees feel safest in the work environment where managers are fully committed to improving workplace safety and invest in technology and training for its maximization. If the organization has a reputation for taking care of the employees, applying IoT can also serve as an efficient corporate recruiting tool.

Are you already using IoT to improve workplace safety? What operations or tasks does it help you deal with? Or what factors prevent your organization from using such a technology? Share with us in the comments below.

How AgileVision can help

Over the past several years, AgileVision has helped many businesses to implement new IoT solutions or improve the existing ones. Are you considering enhancing workplace safety or need some advice on how to start using IoT in your company?

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