Keeping workers safe is an important responsibility that employers need to take very seriously. Every year in the United States, thousands of workers in various industries are injured or even killed due to workplace violence incidents. Many more are injured due to preventable accidents.
Some jobs are inherently more dangerous than others. Workers accept that risk when they take a job in these high-risk industries. However, employers in these industries are obligated to minimize those risks as much as possible.
Here’s how many incidents of violence and accidents in the workplace can be avoided with the strategic use of advanced technology.
How Technology Can Reduce Workplace Violence
Workplace violence is a concern in many different industries, such as healthcare, education, corrections, and transportation. Workers may be assaulted by patients, students, inmates, customers, passengers, or even coworkers.
Technology can be a deterrent and a response system to keep employees safe. Some devices that can help reduce violence include:
- Surveillance cameras— Allow for remote monitoring of the workplace and provide accountability in case of a violent incident.
- Panic buttons and alarm systems— Provide a rapid alert system that employees can use when they are afraid for their safety.
- Electronic access control systems— Prevent unauthorized access of individuals who might become violent toward employees for various reasons.
- Wearable technology for employees— Gives employees a personal monitoring and alert system.
- Mobile applications— Can be used to report concerning behavior, situations, or incidents.
Accountability is incredibly important when it comes to reducing workplace violence. If someone is harmed by another person, technology that provides accountability can help provide needed proof for disciplinary or legal action. Alert systems help to reduce harm to individual employees when an incident does occur.
The Role of Technology in Preventing Workplace Accidents
Workplace accidents are very common in the United States, especially in dangerous industries like construction, manufacturing, trucking, and farming.
Although there is no way to prevent every accident, employers should provide training and invest in technology that reduces the chances of workplace accidents. Some examples include:
- Safety sensors— Indicate when there is a potential safety issue and will initiate a shutdown if necessary.
- Robotics and automation— Provide options for minimizing human involvement in the most dangerous jobs.
- Virtual reality training— Improve safety training and readiness for being on a real job site.
- Predictive analytics— Using data to understand and mitigate risks.
Workplace accidents can result in workers becoming incapacitated or even being killed. Safety should be a top priority, which can involve investing in new technology.
Benefits of Technology in Workplace Safety
The benefits of technology in workplace safety for employees are obvious. They help people feel safer and work and provide accountability for those who are violent or negligent in the workplace. People who are injured on the job often have trouble returning to work, which impacts their ability to earn a living.
For businesses, using technology in workplace safety has additional benefits beyond reducing accidents and violence. It helps ensure that good workers can stay on the job and continue to be productive. It also reduces liability and can often reduce insurance rates. It’s also good for a company’s image— people like to know that employees are valued and kept safe at work.
Barriers to Adopting Safety-Focused Technology
Safety-focused technology is important for any workplace that carries risks of violence or accidents due to the work environment or industry. However, adopting these technologies isn’t always easy for businesses.
The biggest obstacle, of course, is cost. Getting these technologies implemented can be expensive. With that said, safety incidents are also expensive— both financially and in terms of reputation.
Other barriers can include privacy concerns among workers and customers, the need for ongoing maintenance and the potential for technical issues, and resistance from the workforce to new procedures and protocols. People are naturally suspicious of change and getting buy-in from employees can be surprisingly difficult. Although initiatives like increasing diversity or improving safety benefit everyone in the long run, it can be difficult to get people to accept change.
Technology Makes Dangerous Jobs Safer Overall
When an organization decides to implement safety-focused technology, the first step is identifying the areas of risk and determining what technologies are needed to promote optimal safety. Once the equipment is installed, establishing training, policies, and protocols is critical for using the technology properly. Ongoing monitoring will help ensure that any maintenance and updates take place as needed.
Although investing in new technology can be expensive and inconvenient for employers in the short term, it is important for minimizing the possibility of workplace accidents and violence. Using technology to create safer workplaces, especially in jobs that are inherently risky, is a win-win for everyone involved. While technology can’t do all the heavy lifting in preventing accidents and assaults on the job, it can be an important component of any workplace safety plan.
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