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Four Ways to Adopt IoT for a Safer Workplace

January 19, 2019

VS Shridhar   

Senior Vice President and Head of the Internet of Things (IoT) business initiative

If you are going to get anything right in business, ensuring your employee’s health and safety should certainly be at the top of the list. People need to feel comfortable whilst at work. Under no circumstances should they have to tolerate unsafe conditions. You’d be forgiven for believing that this is how all business’ thought.

Statistics published by the International Labor Organization (ILO) prove that this, sadly, is not the case. Many organisations are failing to meet the basic safety needs of their employees, sometimes resulting in tragic fatalities and significant financial burdens.

These sobering statistics drive home the pressing need for businesses–big and small–to give high priority to strengthening their occupational health and safety practices. While most are implementing robust governance and well-defined business processes as essential, the innovative few are also embracing next-generation technologies, specifically the Internet of Things (IoT).

Enterprises can now leverage IoT across their industrial landscape to bolster employee health and safety. The interconnected web of sensor-embedded devices is helping businesses to monitor their vital physical and human assets to predict vehicle mishaps, property damage, employee absences, near misses and injuries. This is done by analysing data spanning different assets and work sites to discover patterns, and proactively forecasting health and safety-related issues for predictive intervention.

Rolling out IoT will also let enterprises collect relevant data in real-time during disasters, thus facilitating faster and better rescue efforts. Implementing IoT, alongside other next-generation technologies such as cloud computing, Big Data and wearables, can also allow businesses to track their workers in a contextual manner. Employers could use geolocation tools and historical enterprise data concerning specific work sites to alert staff regarding potentially hazardous situations.

The business benefits companies–especially utilities, industrial equipment OEMs, oil and gas companies and transportation providers–can reap by adopting IoT for health and safety are wide-ranging. Here are the four major ones.

Recruiting and retaining talent

This isn’t the most obvious of benefits, but by anticipating occupational hazards proactively with IoT and taking preventive measures, businesses can better recruit and retain top-quality talent.

Employees are increasingly focused on wellness management in the digital era- particularly the millennial generation. For this reason, businesses can ill afford not to enact robust health and safety measures. This is no longer a ‘nice-to-have’, but an expectation.

Reducing accidents in hazardous conditions

By using IoT to protect employees who operate in hazardous conditions, corporates can significantly bring down the number of work-related accidents, illnesses and injuries. This, in turn, will enable them to reduce staff compensation, insurance-linked medical reimbursements and other associated costs, besides plugging revenue leakages resulting from lost productivity.

Limiting knocks to that ‘halo effect’

 Let’s be honest, in 2019, perception is everything–especially when it comes to global enterprises. While investing heavily in charitable initiatives is the preferred way to establish a ‘halo effect’, large-scale employee lawsuits are a sure-fire way to end it. Harnessing IoT to enhance health and safety will help organizations minimise reputational damage caused by workplace accidents. A safer workplace will mean a lesser number of potential lawsuits and regulatory backlash, as well as negative media coverage, resulting from occupational incidents.

Complying with regulation

Businesses can comply with relevant health and safety regulations with the help of IoT. With domestic health and safety laws getting more onerous, they can use real-time data analytics and mobility to protect employees spread far and wide and reduce physical and environmental stress in potentially hazardous conditions.

Finally, promoting a health and safety-driven work culture via IoT adoption can pave the way for sustained employee safety. Businesses can analyse data collected over weeks and months to estimate their long-term exposure to possibly hazardous conditions. They can integrate this data with HR and scheduling applications to revise rostering mechanisms for maintaining exposure below acceptable levels.

Conclusion

To operate and succeed on a global level, business must not only adhere to but live by best practices in health and safety. Employee health and safety will no longer be accepted as a nice-to-have. The sooner businesses realise this, the better. With employee safety in front of mind, they will be well placed to boost their operational efficiency, workforce productivity and brand image.

IoT, in conjunction with mobility, wearables, and data analytics can help businesses strengthen health and safety for better compliance, talent management and cost optimisation. Businesses that recognise this opportunity earlier and embrace the technology will have a head start over the competition in attracting and retaining talent going forward.

Interested in staying safe online? Read our previous blog on cybersecurity.