Smarter Phones, Safer Workplaces
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Smarter Phones, Safer Workplaces

by | Sep 18, 2017 | Workers' Compensation

We’ve all heard tragic stories of people who were distracted by their smartphones and then suffered injuries. Many times, these injuries occur at work or while driving a car.

But what if smartphones can do more than just serve as dangerous distractions? More specifically, what if the technology of our smartphones can be harnessed to make the workplace safer for employees? A team of researchers at the University of Wisconsin – Madison is hoping to do just that.

Not All Workplaces Can Afford Expensive Risk-Management Studies

Ongoing research at UW – Madison involves using video footage to help visualize and track repetitive motions in an effort to create a standardized measurement for assessing repetitive motion injury risk.

Repetitive motions can lead to serious injuries among manufacturing and factory workers, resulting in workers’ compensation claims and lost income for injured employees. These injuries are also common among those with desk jobs, especially if they use a mouse and keyboard in the same motion all day, every day. Employers are interested in reducing workplace injuries because workers’ comp claims can also affect their bottom lines.

The hope is that the measurements captured in this footage can then be developed into a smartphone application, which would allow employers to perform a risk assessment easily and with little expense. Armed with this data, employers could take simple steps to reduce repetitive motion injuries, such as slowing down a conveyer belt to eliminate excess speed.

A Game Changer For Both Large And Small Employers

This development is important, as it could give employers of all sizes access to beneficial safety information that is not readily available today. Currently, the only way for an employer to assess ways to reduce the risk of repetitive motion injuries is to hire a team of health and safety professionals who provide their opinion on the level of risk, and the steps that can be taken to reduce these risks. This can be an expensive proposition and is often out-of-reach for all but the biggest companies, which results in workers at smaller employers often being at the greatest risk of injury.

If this app becomes a reality, then workers at companies of all sizes should be able to have their employer carry out a safety assessment and adopt reasonable changes to help protect employees from repetitive injuries.

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