Technology has increasingly become embedded into our daily lives. You’re probably reading this article on your smartphone, tablet, or computer. Whether we’re at home, in our cars, or in the workplace we’re constantly engaging with different forms of technology. Now more than ever, it’s important that we utilize and maximize the advances of technology to improve our lives.
Today, workplaces can benefit in numerous ways by incorporating technology-driven efforts to create a healthier and safer workplace. Companies that utilize technology to advance their health and safety goals not only create a more engaged workforce, but prevent more injuries and fatalities because they offer workers tremendous tools.
PINPOINT THE PAIN POINTS
Technology created for workplace safety has the ability to improve the lives of employees, while bringing greater professional satisfaction. Companies are obligated to keep their workers healthy and safe to the best of their ability. The most common injuries in the workplace occur due to slips, trips and falls, which account for over $10 billion in direct costs and 32% of all injuries are known to be musculoskeletal disorders (according to the Liberty Mutual Workplace Safety Index).
These statistics tell us that safety starts from the ground up. Something as seemingly simple as footwear can be revolutionized by technology.
Creating a modern footcare program for the workplace does not have to be overwhelming. Sometimes the hardest part is taking the first step. The best way to get started is to talk to your workforce. Learning about their current workstation, environment and their physical aches and pains can lead you to numerous solutions. For some, it may be removing outdated and worn out anti-fatigue matting. Traditional matting is for the workplace of the past; today companies are seeking more affordable and efficient solutions.
Swapping anti-fatigue matting for anti-fatigue insoles adds a healthier and technologically advanced solution for fatigue into the workplace. Traditional anti-fatigue matting is limited in its ability to cover a workplace. In fact, some workplaces like construction sites cannot install them at all. Over time, these mats peel, collect debris and create more hazards than help.
One cost-effective alternative is personal anti-fatigue insoles. These insoles are created to reduce pain and fatigue while boosting comfort and productivity. Personal anti-fatigue insoles are comprised of dual-layer memory foam, provide shock absorption and because they fit into a pair of shoes, they cover workers throughout the workplace.
Wearable technology has been popular for a while now. Starting with smart watches and fitness trackers, many people are now able to track their health goals in one touch. In the safety world, technology doesn’t have to be limited to the wrist. There are now protective glasses with heads-up displays and hard hats complete with sensors. The most important trend here is that employers are actively seeking technological solutions that enhance their PPE and safety program.
One new technology—smart insoles—collects data with every step and gives you the information in the palm of your hand. Combining dual-layer memory foam with step-by-step performance analysis, wearers are empowered to improve their daily walking and running activities. These insoles track step count and pronation, and also account for walking surface. Companies that incorporate smart insoles can collect data, track and measure the benefits of investing in workplace wellness and safety technologies.
When looking for wearables and smart devices that benefit a footwear safety program, it’s important to focus on quality and materials used. Durability and strength are extremely important. The more comfort the wearer receives, the more inclined they’ll be to continually use the smart device.
Workplace safety has the noble and moral goal of creating a healthy and safe environment for all employees. Safety and footwear programs are often designed haphazardly trying to piece together different components that oftentimes don’t fit together. Utilizing technology for a safety footwear program not only shows employers user analytics, but it illuminates unseen issues and benefits. Companies need to understand the full picture of what a safety and footwear program is doing, which is reducing the possibility of injuries and fatalities while simultaneously creating a productive and efficient workplace.
Today, wearable devices are available for employees that collect such critical and incredible data as heart rate, steps taken and calories burned. This is powerful information that can be used to address the needs and concerns of the workforce from an individual standpoint. Verdantix’s 2018 Global EHS Survey showed that 22% of EHS professionals believe they will utilize wearables that track vital signs throughout their workplace in 2019. Of those surveyed, 43% expect to use location tracking sensors and 44% will also monitor environmental conditions. Needless to say, companies investing in this data will not only attract employees, but they will also retain healthier and safer workers.
AHEAD OF THE CURVE
Businesses often fear advanced technologies because they are worried about cost and would rather resist change. However, those who are willing to step out of their comfort zone and into modern solutions for workplace safety are more likely to prevent their employees from facing short- and long-term dangers. The National Safety Council’s Injury Facts reported 43,570 foot injury cases that required numerous days away from work. This report also showed that the cost per foot/toe injury claim was over $24,900.
Change may be scary, but facing these premiums should send employees running to safer solutions. Speaking to workers and conducting a workplace safety assessment, covering how and where they walk, and for how long they are standing, is important for gaining the initial understanding for their daily needs. OSHA requires that “the employer shall ensure that each affected employee uses protective footwear when working in areas where there is a danger of foot injuries due to falling or rolling objects, or objects piercing the sole, or when the use of protective footwear will protect the affected employee from an electrical hazard, such as static-discharge or electric shock hazard, that remains after the employer takes other necessary protective measures.”
These guidelines demonstrate how important it is for employers to have a footwear safety program. As a safety community, let’s take an additional step together and provide employees with technologically advanced footwear solutions that promote a healthier and safer workplace and lifestyle. Investing in your footwear safety program and workforce can help create a healthy workplace focused on productivity, safety and engagement.
Dr. Kevan Orvitz is a veteran podiatrist and the founder of MEGAComfort (www.megacomfort.com), a workplace health and wellness company. With over 15 years of experience in various industries, he has studied all aspects of biomechanics and the human body, specifically the lower body and feet.