Working in manufacturing can be dangerous. Although improvements have been made, when it comes to preventable incidents across industries, manufacturing ranks third highest in total injuries and illnesses. According to Injury Facts, the industry recorded 118,050 incidents involving days away from work in 2016. Leading causes of these injuries include overexertion, coming into contact with objects and slips, trips and falls.
Many technological innovations have been driven by productivity first and safety second (or further down the list), but technology also can have a direct, proactive safety benefit beyond replacing or automating dangerous tasks. Three areas where exciting innovations in safety is taking place is within the Internet of Things (IoT) and sensors, cameras and virtual reality.
Leaders in manufacturing are embracing innovations, including using the IoT to create interlinked communication between machines, objects and people. Cameras are now small and high-resolution enough to be embedded in visors, goggles and hard hats so that safety professionals can see what workers are seeing. Finally, the size and cost of virtual reality equipment has decreased dramatically, making it more readily available in a work setting. Think about how much safer you can be if you have practiced the riskiest part of your job a dozen times before actually setting foot in a facility.
Advances in Technology
Technology and automation in manufacturing are about so much more than replacing jobs. There are always challenges, and the debate about technological innovation in manufacturing is far from over. Leading-edge companies are embracing technology while facing these issues head-on. If the growth of smart phones is any indication, 10 years from now these innovations and practices will be commonplace everywhere — and we’ll be safer for it.