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Small electronics could enhance workplace safety

For some Pennsylvania workers, wearable technologies may help to prevent accidents and injuries on the job. These kind of electronics are attached to the body and can encompass a wide range of activities, from small fitness trackers to substantial protective gear. Hard hats may have sensors embedded to detect incoming dangers, while goggles may include displays that alert workers to potential problems. They could also help to correct ergonomic issues in the work environment while monitoring stress, fatigue and other conditions that could contribute to risk.

These devices give a greater view of workers' activities on the job. While the motivation behind their development may be to improve workplace safety, some observers have worried about privacy concerns. The devices could be used to measure productivity and encourage workers to move even more quickly, potentially further endangering safety. Some companies may justify the equipment as a safety aid but then use it to discipline workers or intensify their workload, leading to a greater distrust of other workplace health initiatives. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health has supported opt-out programs and other options that could protect workers' privacy and safety.

Some experts said that wearable technology could be used to enhance existing protective equipment. Thus, gas monitors or other devices measuring pollutants could share that information across a network, warning of potential serious problems. These technologies could also provide alerts that avoid near-miss or actual collisions and accidents involving construction equipment.

Wearable technologies could provide an important method to reduce workplace injuries, but many companies have dangerous environments and disregard workplace safety. People who have been injured on the job due to safety violations might want to meet with an attorney to see what their options are.

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