Wearable Tech: The Future of Health and Safety?

We have witnessed the growing adoption of wearable health and safety ‘smart tech’ but what are the implications for the future?

Information and communications technology have progressed beyond simply tracking and measuring our movements to gauge fitness. Tech is now capable of monitoring vital signs that can give indications of health risks.

Smart, wearable technology will have a significant impact on the workplace over the next few years. By 2025 it’s expected that people will become increasingly reliant on – and trusting of – digital health monitoring and advice dispensed by machine algorithms. As wearable tech becomes more readily available and affordable, businesses are increasingly evaluating the use of smart technology as a tool for enhancing productivity and improving communications and employee health.

Smart devices such as phones, watches and identity badges in the workplace are common. And now – smart clothing, novel smart devices including smart contact lenses and even temporary tattoos that feature tiny cameras, sensors and antennae are also in development. Devices can gather and analyse data on health factors such as stress, fatigue, temperature, respiration, heart rate, blood pressure, activity intensity, calories burned and sleep patterns. Workers are now being incentivised to share their personal health data, including data from outside work.

Additionally, there is a growing opportunity and market for connected wearable devices to help prevent injury:
Are employees lifting objects correctly? Are they walking in hazardous areas such as under a crane or near toxic chemicals? Wearables collect many data points such as motion metrics for specific parts of the body and environmental factors, including temperature, heat index and humidity. Data collected can determine if tasks are being performed incorrectly and what factors may be contributing to poor performance.

Technology is forging a new future in the way companies handle employee welfare, health and safety. Employees are an organisation’s greatest asset and using wearable technologies can help mitigate workplace injuries by reinforcing positive behaviour and creating a culture of safety and efficiency. This represents a new era of ‘duty of care’ and employer responsibility.

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