Safety Trends for 2020
What major safety trends are on the horizon in 2020 and beyond? The start of a new decade is the perfect time to assess big picture issues and how they may effect your equipment and workplace. The future of workplace safety includes a combination of improving traditional methods of injury prevention (being forward-thinking with wellness initiatives and making advancement with personal protective equipment or PPE) and embracing new technologies (from artificial intelligence to the Internet of Things or IoT).
Addressing Worker Wellness
Beyond the safety mainstays like training, PPE, and on-product safety labels and workplace safety signs , programs and guidelines on worker health have expanded to include an emphasis on overall wellness. Organizations like the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health encourage employers to talk to employees about health beyond prevention, including emotional and environmental support. This may also include more long-term health issues other than workplace injury, such as cancer or musculoskeletal issues. Other workplaces may begin to include resources on substance abuse, in an effort to address rising drug use in the United States. Some workplaces offer options like exoskeletons to address the risk of musculoskeletal disease. Exoskeletons are increasing in popularity, offering physical support to those in physically strenuous jobs. They offer help with back support, holding tools and even help workers hold crouched positions for longer periods of time by providing a chair-like option.
Safety in construction has improved in recent years, and injuries have declined noticeably. However, the industry still has the highest rate of fatalities. According to OSHA, falls, electrocutions, being caught between items and being struck by objects are the ‘Fatal Four’, or the main causes of construction fatalities. Safety trends can help workers avoid injury and even death.
PPE is evolving to help address these risks. For example, smart vests can connect to WiFi and collect valuable information about the person wearing them. These vests can send data alerting a manager that a worker has fallen, or even sense when the person wearing the vest has become tired, based on their movements. Other wearables can tie into IoT systems, identifying dangerously high temperatures and other potential safety issues. IoT sensors may also go on equipment. These sensors can connect to computer vision systems, which process information and can take action to stop or shut off equipment if an injury seems imminent.
Technology: Artificial Intelligence, Automation and IoT
According to a recent Gallup poll, a whopping 85 percent of Americans use devices that have artificial intelligence (AI) elements built into them, whether at home or at their workplace. Industries insiders expect that uptick in AI to continue into 2020 and beyond, driven not just by the more obvious reasons, such as improving operational efficiencies and cost reduction, but also gains in safety. For example, automakers are working with IT experts to install features that make self-driving vehicles like Tesla’s more secure, such as face-recognition software. It's only a matter of time before businesses in sectors where injuries are common – such as construction – use these same processes to determine if their crews are wearing all the equipment they're supposed to.
In a similar respect, far from
replacing jobs, the use of
in the workplace
can help protect workers from injury.
In physical work, especially done outdoors, drones have proven to be helpful.
They can provide an overhead assessment of an area, which allows for a unique
view of potential risks that would be difficult to spot from the ground.
Another use for drones includes speeding up workplace inspections. A
well-piloted drone can provide a thorough view of the facility at a faster
speed than an inspection conducted on foot. Time is money, and saving time on internal
inspections makes them less costly, allowing facilities to conduct them more
The use of Internet of Things (IoT) devices and products in the workplace can also help increase safety. IoT allows a wide range of appliances and devices to transmit data, giving managers unique insight into how those devices are operating in the workplace. Items like elevators, heavy machinery and lights can send data over an IoT system that can help managers track their use, get required maintenance updates and more. Machinery companies have started integrating technology into their products, allowing them to report helpful information about maintenance and settings. Wearable IoT devices can help detect when conditions are dangerous for workers. This technology has incredible potential to reduce worker injury and keep facilities cleaner and more functional than ever.
While adoption of these latest trends will occur at varying rates by company and industry, what’s certain is that you’ll continue to be presented with new opportunities for worker safety across all sectors. We’re here at Clarion Safety to help you as you navigate this new decade of safety for products and workplaces.
This blog was originally posted on 10/22/2018 and updated with new information.