Transform systems to make your workplace safer: Part three

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Exploring how technology helps the industrial workplace perform more efficiently and safely.

Co-authored by Mike Dennis and Chiranth Ramaswamy and Arvind Subramanian

We learned in part two of this blog series that equipping technicians with smart devices and using software for worker and equipment management can significantly improve productivity; in one implementation, the time workers spent in productive or work zones jumped by 50%.

Even more impressive, the same systems that help workers be more productive can also keep them safer on work sites. The safety potential of the Internet of Things (IoT) has been largely untapped, yet this technology can avoid dangerous situations, improve employee morale and, literally, save lives.

This is the third blog in a three-part series exploring how technology helps the industrial workplace perform more efficiently and safely. Part one supplied an overview of the available technology and the benefits that come with implementation.

Preventing injuries, reducing costs

Workplace injuries impose a significant financial cost on companies, in addition to the personal toll associated with injuries. The US Department of Labor estimates that organizations pay almost $1 billion per week for direct workers’ compensation costs alone.

The key to increasing safety and reducing the financial burden of injuries is prevention. Wearable safety equipment, such as environmental sensors and GPS-enabled smartwatches, prevent workers from entering restricted and hazardous zones in real-time, and can also alert users to incidents such as gas leaks or chemical spills.

On a day-to-day basis, roles-based guidelines ensure individual safety by specifying who is authorized to work in specific areas. Only qualified electricians, for example, are permitted in areas with exposed electrical equipment and, even then, sensors must indicate that electricity has been turned off in an area before the electrician is cleared to begin work. Staff can also be required to complete a personal protective equipment (PPE) checklist before entering an area to ensure authorized workers are equipped with the appropriate gear. Advanced systems even employ sensors embedded in individual PPE pieces to deny entry unless a worker is fully equipped.

When a hazard is detected, such as a gas leak, “geo-fencing” of the affected area ensures only workers with expertise in managing gas will be permitted to enter, while other staff are guided to safe zones.

Sensors can also be deployed to detect falls and to monitor the biometric readings of workers to assess exertion and external factors such as dangerous temperature levels.

Centralized monitoring and reporting

The health of the overall workplace is also monitored by centralized systems that use real-time sensor and GPS data to track temperature, humidity, toxic or hazardous gas, and workers’ vital statistics. By correlating this data, centralized and early warning mechanisms reduce safety-related incidents.  Integrating weather information also helps companies prepare for any catastrophic incidents and provide early alerts to workers and supervisors.

Safety reports, such as number of breaches by site or plant, number of breaches by workers, frequently breached zones or frequently breached work hours, provide insights into operations and help companies formulate appropriate safety guidelines. Companies that deploy these systems to protect workers on a day-to-day basis and during emergencies often find that the long-term improvements to guidelines and practices deliver the biggest safety gains.

From systems integration to engineering services, our team is uniquely placed to put all these pieces together to create end-to-end systems. There are point-solutions available, but only Capgemini has the field devices, the back-end systems, the reporting and analytics, and the artificial intelligence (AI) expertise to create complete systems, that can help companies be more productive, and keep workers safer.

To learn more, connect with Mike DennisChiranth Ramaswamy and Arvind Subramanian on social media or read our whitepaper on safety and productivity.

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