How wearable devices boost safety from the job site to the factory floor.

How wearable devices can boost safety from the job site to the factory floor.

It’s a sweltering summer day on the loading dock at a manufacturing plant. A foreman supervising the offloading of a key parts shipment gets an alert on his smart watch. Based on his body temperature, other vital health signs, and the afternoon weather forecast, the alert recommends he immediately take a break and hydrate. The foreman’s safety manager receives the same alert and sends a text to the crew confirming that they should take a break.

This break alert exemplifies emerging safety practices throughout the manufacturing industry. Numerous types of construction wearables connected through wireless networks –everything from hardhats, belts, boots, vests, watches, wristbands to patches that attach to the arm –offer innovative approaches to enhance worker safety.

The potential benefits are enormous. In manufacturing, safety is paramount because hazards like injuries from heavy machinery, falls and exhaustion-related decisions abound. Wearable safety technology can provide a first line of defense to keep workers safe.

Safety capabilities and applications.

Wearable personal safety devices aren’t just the future: they’re already in action in a variety of work environments. A survey of commercial construction contractors by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce found 83% of respondents expect construction wearables to improve jobsite safety. A study by Gartner predicts that annual worldwide spending on smart watches, wrist bands, ear-worn devices, smart patches, smart clothing, and other wearables will total about $94 billion in 2022, more than double the $46 billion spent on them in 2019.

The sensors inside construction wearables can track vital signs such as blood pressure, heart rate and body temperature. They can monitor ambient temperature and air quality, detect fatigue and microsleep, detect falls and enable safe, hands-free communication. These sensors can also transmit real-time health data to a safety manager who monitors workers for overexertion or other dangerous health condition

Connected job sites with hundreds of wearable-equipped workers is one of the most forward-thinking ways managers can optimize safety on large projects that can’t afford delays.

Safety wearables can send real-time notifications to workers about their health status or imminent risks. For instance, they can work in tandem with geofencing, a technology that uses global positioning systems (GPS) to alert workers when they cross a virtual boundary into restricted hazardous areas. These devices can even contact emergency responders when a fall or other accident occurs.

While this technology is invaluable in promoting employee safety, none of it is possible without a reliable connection. Any loss of connection could result in an injury or –in dangerous situations –even a fatality. Fast, reliable networks facilitate the benefits of wearable safety technology by providing high data-transfer speeds while minimizing lapses in connectivity (low latency). Connected job sites with hundreds of wearable-equipped workers is one of the most forward-thinking ways managers can optimize safety on large projects that can’t afford delays.

Sensors provide analytics, predictive benefits across industries.

Wearable safety devices can enhance any industry that must protect against on-the-job hazards. One smart boot product, intended for sites such as manufacturing facilities and warehouses, tracks steps, lifts, and speeds to identify unsafe or inefficient tasks. The boot can connect with forklifts, trucks, and other vehicles to prevent collisions.

Many wearables not only collect information, but also apply predictive analytics to that data for deeper insights. One smart hard hat uses sensors based on medical electroencephalography (EEG) technology to track brainwaves and determine alertness and fatigue, sending alarms when workers are at risk.

Another example is a smart patch that tracks and analyzes heart rate, physical activity, skin temperature, and ambient temperature to predict core body temperature, providing alerts to workers and supervisors when core temperatures approach unsafe levels. It also enables safety managers to aggregate data and understand broad safety trends in the workforce.

Protecting workers from hazardous gasses.

Wearable personal safety devices protect workers from things they can’t see, too. For instance, gas detection sensors can measure real-time levels of numerous hazardous gasses such as carbon monoxide and ammonia, alerting workers and safety managers when exposure levels are unsafe. These devices can potentially save lives in a wide range of industries, including manufacturing, transportation, logistics, and more.

One gas-detection device clips to a belt or chest pocket and detects when the worker is not moving and potentially impacted by gas exposure. It includes GPS capabilities that guide emergency responders to a worker’s location or initiate evacuations in the case of a significant gas leak

T-Mobile’s wireless network powers connected, safe work environments.

When it comes to reducing injuries and fatalities with safety wearables, a dependable wireless network is absolutely critical.

For more information about how T-Mobile for Business is enabling employee safety through wearables and other technology, read How 5G helps improve construction safety. Or to position your business for success as you navigate the opportunities created by the Infrastructure Bill, call one of our experts at 855-521-3684.

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