What You Will Learn
As workers are harder to recruit and retain, many operations are moving towards longer shift lengths and over-time. But this leads injuries and absenteeism to go up, and morale goes down. We explore the impact novel wearable devices can have to improve safety, productivity and morale of workers on the facility floor.
In the consumer world, wearable devices have helped people take more steps, do more exercise and sleep better. A wearable device that helps workers improve body mechanics was deployed at distribution centers and retail stores of two Fortune 100 companies. The technology was used in conjunction with three strategies:
• Real-time feedback: workers received a light vibration each time they performed a high-risk posture or motion, such as twist, bend or over-reach. This created increased awareness and training.
• Gamification and competition: workers were given safety goals and competed on who reduced their high-risk motions the most through leaderboards.
• Dashboard: data from the wearable devices was aggregated to a central dashboard to show which jobs showed the highest risk, and which workers needed additional training.
Though the wearable device, workers improved their body mechanics by reducing their daily high-risk postures by 46%. Best practices were obtained from multiple deployments and include the importance of deploying to workers with transparency about the program and the use of the data collected, as well as emphasizing the importance of the safety benefits.
After 12 months of use with thousands of workers, the benefits were:
• Reduced injuries and costs: reduction of 53% in OSHA recordable injury rates, and 54% in the cost of workers compensation claims.
• Improved productivity: increase of 5% in worker productivity, as workers were able to maintain their productivity rate over the full length of the shift. This was possible by decreasing fatigue and soreness associated with using unsafe ergonomic postures.
• Impact on Culture: with workers engaged in their own safety data, and engaged in friendly competition, safety becomes top of mind which increases overall morale at the facility. This leads to improved worker retention and less absenteeism.