Wearables at Work

Safety Smart Watch

Much like the challenges employers faced when cellphones became commonplace, advancement in wearable technology will force employers to re-evaluate workplace safety models.

Google glasses, fitness bands, and smart watches are a present reality and wearables such as barcode readers and high definition cameras are in the early stages. Employers who are proactive in their expectations on how to handle this ever-changing environment can make the most of new technologies and maximize the benefits.

An excellent example of how wearable technology has changed the vocational landscape is wireless headsets. In many industries staff wear wireless headsets so they can communicate with one another, quickly and accurately responding to customer and colleague inquiries. Wearable technology in the form of glasses that boast high-definition cameras aid warehouse workers in scanning barcodes, ensuring correct items are scanned and minimizing customer returns. Additionally, these glasses aid in sequencing to improve efficiency, advising workers on items that need care in handling to prevent damage and warn of hazards.

The aforementioned shows a real benefit, but it is important not to disregard technology worn for non-work-related reasons. Businesses unprepared for this transition could face a host of issues and employers need to consider the benefits and risks of these technologies, in addition to whether they should be allowed in the workplace.

Some employees may feel that their privacy rights have been violated if colleagues have the capability to record video or take pictures with a device such as Google glass. Additionally, there is a distraction component when employees who must adhere to occupational safety guidelines opt to utilize wearable technology. The use of wearables while working can best be related to the use of cellphones while driving. Usage could lead to serious injury.

While wearables may have no negative impact on many jobs, employers in the field of occupational safety would greatly benefit from a thorough risk assessment. Identifying potential hazards and communicating clear and concise guidelines for proper policies and procedures, as well as outlined consequences when employees fail to comply, is imperative.

The inconspicuous and small nature of wearables makes it difficult for managers and supervisors to regulate, so training is essential. Appropriate usage as well as lawfulness must be considered, including  the prohibition of unauthorized audio and video recording and transmission. Moreover, the protection of confidential and proprietary information is paramount.

The pros of advancing technology typically weigh out the cons until something happens which causes employers to refocus their efforts, so getting a jump start on this is crucial!


Posted on December 18, 2014, in wearable technology, Workplace Safety and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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