The Growing Importance of the IoT in Health and Safety
The Internet of Things (IoT) is a phrase that we have seen used with increasing frequency in recent years. What does it mean in terms of providing a greater degree of health and safety at work?
What is the IoT?
This is the name given to a network of physical objects that are hooked up to the internet. Examples that are often given include smart homes where the fridge, the lights and other elements are all connected online.
It has also proved useful in the manufacturing industry, as the quality and efficiency of the machines that are used can be constantly monitored.
How Can It Be Used in Health and Safety?
There are a number of ways in which the Internet of Things could help in a health and safety environment. One aspect that springs to mind is in allowing lone workers to feel more protected.
For instance, someone who is driving a truck in a remote location or working alone on an electrical installation will be constantly connected to the network. Their supervisor will be advised immediately and automatically if any issues occur with the tools or machines being used.
A good example could be if a construction worker suffers a fall while working alone. By having their fall protection post or other tool hooked up to the IoT, a warning will be generated right away, allowing their colleagues to take action.
This can also be seen in the growing trend for smart clothing with chips embedded in it. These items allow the company to track a user’s activity and spot if something goes wrong. This sort of wearable technology could also advise the wearer of dangers that they might not have noticed yet.
Another of the major benefits of the IoT is that it allows us to collect huge amounts of data effortlessly. The key is in then using all of this information wisely using predictive analytics and other methods of squeezing as much value as possible from it.
For instance, the data that is collected in terms of worker safety could be used as the basis for risk assessments. This may show figures such as how long is spent working at height or during which task most injuries happen.
We could also see in this way the most dangerous locations and how often workers are put at risk during a day. This would allow the company to avoid the assumptions that are currently made when trying to make sense of incomplete safety records.
Faster and More Efficient
One of the big issues that many companies face is that health & safety takes up more of their time than they would like. This can lead to them cutting corners or even completely neglecting certain tasks, putting employees at risk.
With the IoT, a lot of the tasks can be automated, making them more efficient. This could help persuade companies to put more effort into their health & safety approach without having to commit too much time to it.