The integration of wireless, connected technologies into our everyday lives has accelerated in recent years with smaller devices capable of an increasing number of advanced applications. The relatively low cost availability of Bluetooth connected wearable devices like fitness trackers smart watches and more makes them a perfect companion for those struggling with health problems or injury.
The Internet of Things (IoT), a network of connected devices that make up parts of our daily routine, is becoming more important with each passing year, and is starting to have an impact on workers’ compensation.
HOW WEARABLE TECHNOLOGY ADDRESSES WORKPLACE RISK
While consumer-grade wearable technology hasn’t caught on as widely as smart phones or tablets, the application for such devices in the workplace has exploded. From body cameras, worn by police, firemen, factory workers, miners, and just about anyone else exposed to high degrees of risk on a daily basis, to low cost earpieces to ensure hands-free communication, we’re more connected than ever before.
Wearable sensors are now being integrated in factories as well – devices that can communicate with equipment and machinery to shut down a machine if the risk of injury grows high due to human error or accident. Risk & Insurance wrote in an article nearly two years ago that we could be on the precipice of eliminating some categories of injury, and the technology has only continued to advance.
Wearable technologies have also been integrated into wellness programs that reward employees for reaching certain activity milestones – number of steps, hours standing, activities participated in. This data is invaluable to health insurers, and can reduce costs across the board in many settings.
As a business owner, it is more important than ever to evaluate sources of risk in the workplace and technology that can be implemented as part of an effort to reduce or manage it accordingly.
WEARABLE TECHNOLOGY FOR INJURED WORKERS
At the same time, wearable technologies are poised to make a huge impact for employees who have been injured on the job. New devices that offer basic mobility or speech capabilities are a fraction of the cost of old devices, not only reducing the cost of rehabilitation, but making it more accessible to people who might otherwise not have options.
Those who are working to rehabilitate can benefit from reminders, automatically captured data that can be emailed to a doctor or physical therapist, and logged data that can be implemented as part of a return to work program.
The bottom line is that wearable technology, in all of its forms, stands to help reduce the risk of workplace injury, which in turn has a direct effect on workers’ compensation costs. As these devices become more accessible and affordable, expect to see them more prevalent in more industries where risk management isn’t such a proactive part of running the business.