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Wearables: A Key Component to the Future of Workers’ Comp

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The future of Workers’ Compensation may very well lie in wearables. A well-implemented wearables technology program, effective in scope and embraced by employees, will help improve the productivity of an organization and bolster its financial position. Tangible benefits for employees include improved physical health and well-being.

What are Wearables?

When it comes to Workers’ Comp, companies seek to manage risk and reduce liability, and wearables help move the needle by identifying potential problems with employees before they turn into claims.

Wearables include items like watches, bracelets and even safety glasses with sensors woven in. They sense and track the information being sought, based on the role of the employee.

Examples of the valuable data wearables can provide for different jobs include:

  • Warehouse work: Detects if an employee is lifting more than the maximum weight.
  • Moving/storage companies: Senses employees lifting above a designated height or weight threshold.
  • Machinery work: Measures sound levels to detect excessive noise.
  • Outdoor work: Measures UV exposure.
  • Ergonomics: Indicates how long people have been sitting, especially important in the work-from-home era.

4 Critical Elements of a Successful Wearables Program

  1. Alignment – The actual use of the wearable must align with the job role in order to generate useful data and create beneficial risk mitigation programs.
  2. Worker Buy-In – This is critical to ensuring that employees use the wearable device properly so that it generates the desired data.
  3. Communication – Clearly explaining the benefits of a wearable sensor to employees, along with the results generated, will help dispel any view of intrusion to their privacy, and also bridge any disconnect between the employer and employee as to the expected benefits.
  4. Proper Integration – Senior management support and the proper integration of the wearables to employees through communication and education will facilitate employee adoption.

Concerns and How to Address Them

The introduction of a wearables program can generate employee concerns about privacy, data use and benefits.

Employees do not want “big brother” watching over them and they are equally concerned about data breaches. Wearables gather a lot of information and employees want to know that their private information will be protected.

To encourage employee buy-in, employers should clearly state how the wearables will benefit the workers themselves in addition to helping the organization. Employers need to sell employees on the benefits and how wearables make the workplace healthier and safer. Additionally, employers need to address cyber security concerns by explaining how the gathered information will be protected.

The Future of Wearables

Wearable sensor technology will continue to improve and evolve. Effective implementation, adoption and utilization of wearable sensors will facilitate health and safety changes for the betterment of the organization and its employees.   

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