Technology is becoming a permanent, more present part of our everyday lives. What role does it have in workplace safety?
Technology plays an essential role in the workplace. Over the years, its inclusion has made startups more competitive, productive and, importantly, more secure. In many ways, technology has improved workplace safety while also making it easier for businesses to stay compliant.
7 Ways Tech is Transforming Workplace Safety and Compliance
- Employees Have Easy Access to Safety Information
In the past, both employees and employers had to sift through hefty manuals containing vital safety information if they wanted to clarify something or strengthen their policies.
While maintaining a safe work environment is necessary, it’s easy to see why so many employers failed safety testing and why so few employees knew their rights. As those rights continued to change, it became harder for staff to stay up-to-date with safety regulations.
Thanks to technology, you can find what you need with a simple Google search. You also don’t have to wait for your employer to clarify industry-specific safety regulations. OSHA safety measures are universal, and employees can look up relevant information on its website.
Of course, it helps if employers make safety-related information available through a company wiki or internet. That way, employees know they’re following the right safety protocols.
- Compliance Is No Longer an Uphill Battle
The ease of technology has caused its own share of compliance issues, especially in the healthcare industry. A healthcare provider could fall out of HIPAA compliance if they don’t regulate the technology in their business or train their staff to follow compliance policies.
With that said, maintaining proper compliance has been an issue well before technology. Human error is the cause of most of these problems, but the right technology can make up for it.
For example, comprehensive EHR and practice management solutions encrypt all patient health information when it enters the system. If an employee forgets to encrypt the data, it won’t matter because the software takes care of it. This makes it easier to stay compliant.
- Automated Safety Systems Monitor 24/7
Automated monitoring systems have unwittingly made workplaces safer. One big example is cameras. In the right hands, cameras can be used to check if employees are following safety measures, but they’re also useful for monitoring machinery and the premise of the property.
Automated monitors can detect potentially hazardous situations before they become an issue, such as heat or smoke. They could also detect fires or gas leaks when they actually occur.
Access control systems are a key part of safety monitoring as they keep unauthorized workers from entering potentially dangerous situations or accessing difficult-to-operate machinery.
While we’d like to think that employers and employees can recognize a dangerous situation with their eyes alone, that isn’t always possible. With automated safety systems, companies can ensure that their workplaces are monitored 24/7, preventing severe injuries and fatalities.
- Virtual Reality for Safety Policy Training
Some safety protocol training inevitably puts people in harm’s way because it reenacts a possibly life-threatening situation. But when it doesn’t, it may not adequately prepare workers for when the emergency occurs. Virtual reality (VR) solves both of these problems for employers.
VR can safely reenact dangerous situations without fear of employees becoming injured. As VR improves, employees can use this tool to improve their reaction time during an emergency.
When it comes to safety, every second counts. VR companies know this and have already developed applications for safety training. These companies found that interactive learning can better test employees in the moment, making them more prepared.
- Hazards are Identified Faster and More Efficiently
A construction worker is constantly around hazardous materials. From asbestos to carbon monoxide, there are plenty of home materials and substances that could seriously affect their health. That’s not even mentioning common environmental hazards, such as slipping and falling.
But even office employees could be in danger if they lift incorrectly or take on too much stress at work. Wearable devices are a great example of how tech can be used to protect everyone.
For example, if a construction worker inhales toxic fumes or an office worker is about to have a heart attack, a device that monitors their heartbeat can make a sound if they’re in danger.
Automated emergency response systems are the end result of this technology. If something dangerous is happening, the response system can lock up the machine or call the police. This saves employees from doing this step themselves, ensuring that hazards are dealt with quickly.
- Higher Occupational Accuracy with Technology
Checks and inspections are a routine part of many industries, and most strategies rely on accuracy to function. Digital technology can make it possible to have a high level of occupational accuracy, especially with the use of laser scanners and 3-D image creation.
In the construction industry, blueprints are still widely used, but they don’t ensure safety. Neither do some tape measures, which may not define the dimensions of a workplace as accurately as possible.
However, an automated motorized total station with building information modeling (BIM) data can help streamline the construction process. With higher occupational accuracy, you take the guesswork out of projects, and that inevitably leads to a safer worksite for all employees.
- Increased Productivity and Efficiency
Technology makes workplaces more efficient for all the reasons we already included in this article. With technology, you have more access to information, which saves you the trouble of flipping through textbooks. You can also automate most of your compliance measures.
Employees are better trained to tackle emergencies thanks to VR. That means they can detect any safety issues themselves and act in a way that protects everyone at work.
Not only that but less time is spent maintaining a safe work environment in general. Automated systems run 24/7, so you only have to check these monitors when the system finds a problem.
Or do you? While technology does save us time and money by making us more efficient, that doesn’t mean we can sit back and put everything on autopilot. It’s still in your best interest to manually monitor some functions and actively fix ny safety issues if and when they occur.