Most people reach for objects by bending over from the waist with their shoulders and back curling in a rounded position. Improper technique is a common problem with workers with job roles that require high physical demand and those in warehouses are typically required to do lifting with heavy loads and forceful movements.
It is well known that people working within the warehouse arena are at a high risk of obtaining musculoskeletal injuries. Incorrect bending technique, prolonged bending and bending and reaching with a rotated spine can cause serious spinal harm.
Wearable devices have come a long way since eyeglasses back in the 13th century, to the Sony Walkman in the late 70’s right through to the more recent Apple Watch. Now, due to the likes of Fitbit we are all becoming far more familiar with using them to aid our health and awareness. Wearables are now increasing in popularity within workplace health and safety and particularly in warehouses due to the high physical demand. They are being used to help prevent injury and warn workers if they are at risk. Not just warn them but also, in some cases such as the SoterSpine, educate them and encourage good movement technique during work hours with the bonus of this moving into everyday life.
A wearable device in the workplace is a type of smart device and is sized to be integrated with clothing, either clipped on the belt or the shirt or incorporated with personal protective equipment (ppe). They generally contain advanced hardware including gyroscopes and accelerometers coupled with complex data processing software. This complimentary technology takes data from the movement of the body and uses advance analytical techniques to provide physical activity profiles, giving the user and the proprietor valuable health and safety prevention information.
There are several different types available on the market and each have their own unique characteristics ability to help with prevention. The sensors are becoming more and more accurate as the hardware evolves and the backend algorithms advance with machine learning and artificial intelligence.
Depending on the device, another great advantage of using wearables on workers to prevent injury is the data that is collected can be used to help alter workplace environments or decrease repetitive movements. This can be incredibly useful in a highly physical job role where someone is at risk of injury or fatigue.
As a health and safety professional, manual handling advisor or ergonomist, considering moving into the wearable technology space would be an on-target decision to help protect your people; your most valuable asset!