Motion Sense Technology Making Waves in Workplace Safety
We are all more than familiar with devices that measure heart rate, muscle activity, blood sugar or oxygen saturation.
As a nation we even regularly use app-based technology to measure our sleep efficiency and calorie consumption – so we are all well aware of how technology is driving the health and fitness market.
But this field of technology is also making waves in workplace safety too and, in particular, employers concerned about work-related musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) are now using body motion sensors to assess muscle damage, monitor physical strain and prevent workplace injury. In fact, the wirelessly transmitted data provided by motion sense technology can not only accurately predict risky movement patterns for workers, but can also highlight and demonstrate the most muscle-efficient ways of working, thereby improving efficiency over time, and ultimately cutting costs for the long term.
According to figures from the UK’s Office for National Statistics an estimated 9.5 million working days were lost in 2014/15 due to work-related MSDs – a statistic that has ensured MSDs take centre stage in the HSE’s Health & Work Strategy.
So it seems that motion sense technology will enable us to truly rethink how we carry out certain tasks – allowing us to literally remap and redesign the movements of workers to make their jobs safer and their physical actions less damaging over time. Essentially this technology has the potential to help us understand what actually creates injury risk in the first place, as well helping us identify what changes can be made to reduce that risk.
But let’s not jump the gun. We must remember that motion sense isn’t a cure all technology and we must resist the temptation to oversimplify the huge variety of factors that contribute to MSD. Instead we need to view this technology as a driver for the implementation of change. Yes motion sense tools undoubtedly help us take a technology-driven approach to the problem of MSDs, but this technology driven approach must work hand in hand with a structured behaviour-driven approach as well. It is without doubt the combination of both man and machine that will yield the best results and improve safety in the workplace for future generations.