Wearable Ergonomic Technology

We live in a world of rapid innovation and advanced technology.  This is innovation is expanding into a variety of sectors.  The latest? Ergonomics.  You may have recently heard of ergonomic sensors and been wondering what they are and if they benefit you or your company.  I will discuss these devices today and talk about how we use this cutting-edge technology to improve the health and safety of our clients.

So, what is an Ergonomic Sensor? (Ergo sensor)

Ergo sensors are artificial intelligence devices that are designed to give ergonomic feedback to the wearer in order to improve posture and mechanics while performing work tasks.  These devices often record data that is sent to a mobile device/computer to provide a summary of daily movements.  The best ergo sensors will provide real-time feedback and coaching when an unsafe task is performed.  Depending on device quality, they may track anywhere from 1 to 8 hazardous movements or activities.

How do they Work?

Ergo sensors are commonly worn by fastening to clothing or placing directly on the skin with an adhesive backing.  These devices are equipped with inertial motion sensors that analyze movement, record data and calculate risk based off OSHA Ergonomics Program Standards. The sensors are typically placed on the neck, low back or arms.  The data collected is uploaded to a smart device or computer via Bluetooth technology.

How are they Applied to a Workforce?

We utilized this technology in several ways depending on the budget and preferences of clients.  Some applications include:

  1. Targeted Ergonomic Studies.
    1. Work areas that experience a high level of work-related injuries may be targeted for use with the device.  The sensor provides instantaneous feedback to the user to notify them when they are performing a hazardous activity.  Additionally, the device will provide personalized video tutorials that target high risk movements specific to the individual user.  Objective data is collected by the administrator (us) and utilized to implement ergonomic controls.
  2. Worker Education.
    1. Most companies do not have the time, budget or resources to implement a comprehensive ergonomic and safety education program with new employees.  These devices enable new employees to receive on-the-job safety training and provide administrative staff insight to high risk individuals for targeted safety interventions.
  3. Return-to-Work.
    1. This tool is great for utilization with workers returning to work from injury.  It will notify employees when they are performing a task unsafely in order to prevent reinjury.  Additionally, administration can monitor work performance and intervene with employee prior to reinjury occurring.
  4. Reassessment.
    1. After performing initial assessment period with sensors and implementing ergonomic controls, ergo sensors are worn again to provide object data to prove the effectiveness of interventions.  This eliminates the guessing game of whether ergonomic changes are effective or not.

Summary

It is important to acknowledge that ergo sensors must only be one part of a company’s overall injury prevention program.  Not all ergo devices are the same, either.  Some devices are cumbersome, expensive and inaccurate.  It is important to consult with someone you trust prior to purchasing and utilizing.  Additionally, is important to partner with a professional to implement sensor usage that understands the data and how to apply the findings to achieve targeted interventions that get results.  If used as supplementation to a larger injury prevention program, ergo sensors can provide useful data and education while greatly reducing work-related injuries. You can receive more information regarding how we utilize wearable technology by clicking here.

If I can be of any assistance to you or if you have any questions, please connect with me by your favorite platform below.  I would love to start a conversation!

     

#MUUVWell,

Kevin Winn B.S., CIEE, CSCS, NSCA-CPT

Kevin is the Executive Director of HealthWorks Kinesiology and is a Certified Industrial Ergonomic Evaluator (CIEE), Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) and a Certified Personal Trainer (NSCA-CPT).  Kevin holds a bachelor’s degree in Kinesiology and Health Promotion from Louisiana Tech University.

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