Technology is helping to reduce fatigue related lost productivity
Workplace injuries cost employers thousands each year in medical bills and workers’ compensation as well as indirect expenses such as decreased productivity.
The National Safety Council reports that, “Fatigue costs U.S. employers more than $130 billion a year in health-related lost productivity.”
The American Society of Safety Professionals (ASSP) recently released a report, based on a three-year study, regarding how to capture a worker’s safety performance and translate the data into personal fatigue levels. The study found that one particular cause of fatigue, sleep disorders, (which affect more than 70 million Americans) is more prevalent in warehousing, manufacturing, truck driving and construction jobs.
During the study, twenty-five research participants wore wrist, hip and ankle sensors while completing tasks such as assembly, stocking and remaining in a steady or flexed position as they worked in three hour increments. The tasks performed during the study are among those typically performed by manufacturing and wholesale or warehouse workers. The study collected meaningful safety data in a cost-effective way without interfering with the worker’s daily routines. They were able to monitor how workers performed the same task in the first hour of work, as compared to once fatigue had set in during the third hour.
A critical finding is that a typical U.S. company with one thousand employees can expect to lose more than $1 million each year to fatigue, which can often increase the workloads and stress level of other employees.
The ASSP feels that the data derived from technology, such as wearable sensors, can help uncover problems and help establish safety protocols that may call for increased scheduled breaks, ergonomic adjustments or even vitamins to help support workers’ well being and productivity. Knowing when, where and how fatigue impacts workers safety is the first step in helping pinpoint problems in order to find solutions for them.
The ASSP encourages employers to take steps to monitor the fatigue levels of workers. The benefits of Fatigue Monitoring are numerous and include improved decision making and response times, which results in increased productivity and a reduction in costly accidents that result in damaged goods and equipment or even lost-time injuries.
A quick Google search can return a list of wearable technology that will enable worker fatigue monitoring through a variety of means. Businesses worldwide are beginning to see how technology can help reduce the frequency of workplace injuries and increase productivity.
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Sources: mhlnews.com “Using technology to measure warehouse worker fatigue” 01/07/19
researchgate.net “Investigating Wearable Technology for Fatigue Identification in the Workplace” 09/2017
vandricoinc.com “Wearable devices used for fatigue monitoring”