Using wearable technology for an ergonomics task safety & risk assessment - can this be more accurate than the human eye?
Wearable technology is increasingly one of the most important pieces of equipment in the health and safety and ergonomics space. Many are seeing the benefits of using these small devices not only due to their potential to help with body awareness but simply by their ability to provide large scales of useable data. But what about for an individual or group Task Risk Assessment (TRA)? Do they provide more accurate results than a physiotherapist or ergonomist undertaking an individual TRA?
If we look at it this way, there are definitely short comings in the human brain and many different factors influence our observations. One of the most common drawbacks that comes to mind is what phycologists call ‘confirmation bias’. To put this into the context of performing a TRA, if the person carrying out the assessment happens to have an earlier perceived theory or hypothesis of any kind in relation to the employee executing the task and/or even the group or company, the observer will only see the evidence of their initial theory and thus miss crucial areas of concern. This can obviously have an impact on the final result of the assessment.
Without over inflating our cerebral bandwidth limitations, there is also the perceptual blindness or inattentive blindness that we can sometimes have, that are both failures of visual awareness. If this interests you more, have a look at The Invisible Gorilla test on the link below, you’ll be amazed.
So yes, we are limited as humans to observe with 100% accuracy, this we all know, so perhaps wearable tech could be the impartial observer during a TRA? Especially given the potential bandwidth of measuring data points and producing data that can provide even more insight than what one person can observe. Or maybe combining the two is the approach to get a faultless but also personal outcome?
Either way, if you still haven’t crossed over to using technology for safety, this is an easy and immediate effective entry and embracing this ‘fourth industrial revolution’ and being on the forefront of using it, will diminish some fear of the digital disruption that is fast coming our way. Perhaps not going so far as to believing that with the fast approaching AI streaming into our worlds, we will end up having, as Elon Musk quotes, ‘the relative intelligence of a house cat’ but we should embrace its benefits as it arises, staying ahead of the competition and preparing businesses for the coming age.