One day we all could be wearing smart watches, Google Glass and fitness trackers to work. Wearable technology, including these devices and many other gadgets that can be worn on the body, could very well be the future of workplace safety as we know it.
Why is that the case? Wearable technology is one of the fastest up-and-coming trends in the country, and more devices are being released on a regular basis that offer the user simple, easy ways to monitor their health and stay connected to the Internet.
Most importantly, this technology is catching on with employers. A worker with a fitness tracker can share real-time health information back to their company, shedding light on their wellness and their current condition. This trend has the ability to drastically alter risk management and employee health and safety.
According to information technology firm Cisco, the emergence of wearable technology is in the midst of a growth phase. Recent analysis by the organization predicted that there will be 177 million wearable devices across the globe by 2018, up drastically from the 22 million reported last year.
Devices can improve workplace safety, wellness
At the moment, a rash of wearable devices is drawing the attention of consumers everywhere. A recent Business Insurance report noted that companies of all sizes are jumping on board as well, using this technology to gain an edge when it comes to workers' compensation insurance, risk management and health and wellness.
However, the current scope of wearable technology isn't comprehensive enough to gain widespread acceptance, the news source noted. For example, too many devices focus on one task - a wrist band that tracks heart rate, a watch that simplifies communication, for example - that employers have yet to realize the full potential of this trend.
But, this doesn't mean wearable devices aren't useful, Business Insurance explained. In one case, firefighters have a shirt with built-in sensors that monitor heart and respiration rate, among other details. The safety implications are obvious for this profession. Even so, the cons remain. These devices can blur the line between efficient data sharing and privacy violations. Plus, many gadgets are costly - shifting the risk and reward balance for employers.
No matter the hurdles, it appears that the trend of wearable technology is on the rise. In the future, we could see many employees, across multiple industries, donning gear that sends real-time health and safety data back to their supervisors.