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The protection power of wearables; health and safety in a digital age

FujitsuSinead Dillon, Principal Consultant, Fujitsu Northern Ireland

In any organisation or business, its people are its most valuable asset.

Your employees and co-workers enhance productivity, add to the creative process, manage goods and services and ultimately contribute to the smooth running and delivery of business.

Therefore, keeping you and your employees’ safe and protecting their health and wellbeing should be at the fore of any business strategy.

Last year, the Health and Safety Executive Northern Ireland (HSENI) dealt with 1,680 reportable work-related injuries and 813 complaints about alleged unsatisfactory working conditions and activities. As HSENI’s Chief Executive Keith Morrison stresses in its 2016/17 Annual Report; “there is absolutely no room for complacency in any workplace and we must all continue to do whatever we can to avoid serious injury and ill health in our workplaces”.

Given the pace of digital transformation in the last decade, Fujitsu has been focused on how to leverage technology advancements as a way to improve workforce wellbeing while also adding knowledge to an organisation. One way we are achieving this is through a range of internet enabled wearable devices that harness the power of the Internet of Things (IoT) and can be easily incorporated into everyday routines by businesses and employees.

According to the HSENI, one of the greatest causes of work-related accidents remains falls from height.  Our wearable devices utilise various sensor technologies to help prevent accidents and to also enable a swift response to accidents that do occur, such as falls. Our Vital Sensing Band for example is worn on the wrist and monitors pulse rate, heat stress and exertion levels as well as measuring acceleration and barometer pressure and so has the ability to detect falls. A device such as this is particularly beneficial to those working alone, at height or in potentially dangerous circumstances as it remotely monitors a person’s health and safety and can send alerts which are pre-defined in event of an incident to the system operator or back office.

Similarly, Fujitsu’s clip-on Location Badge, which uses Global Positioning System (GPS) and Real Time Locating Systems (RTLS), allows the location of workers or goods to be accurately monitored and can also detect falls. The Location Badge can help businesses check that staff are safe at all times, and can send accurately send assistance quickly when needed.  Likewise, if you have an engineer working out in the field, historically you would only know their status and location if they provided that information to you. Through wearable devices such as the Vital Sensing Band or Location Badge – both of which are small and lightweight – businesses can remotely check in on their location and ensure they are safe.

While our latest range of devices tackles a key concern – namely the health and safety of our workforces – they also help companies deliver a more agile, more adaptable and more efficient approach to business. The data collected from devices can for example be analysed to redesign tasks and aid decision making and planning.  Every business in Northern Ireland has already experienced digital disruption and transformation to some degree. We have all embraced aspects of connective technology to stay competitive and enhance productivity. IoT enabled wearable devices is a logical and critical next step on this journey as we look to future proof and protect our businesses and our employees.