January 15, 2019
Personal protective equipment (PPE) is equipment worn by workers to protect against a variety of workplace injuries and illnesses. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requires employers to provide PPE to workers who are exposed to certain hazards.
The type of PPE that is required varies by industry, depending on the types of hazards present in the workplace.
What is Smart PPE?
Over the last few years, wearable technology has gained mainstream popularity. Now, smart technology such as that found in phones, watches, and fitness trackers has become integrated with PPE.
Smart PPE is able to connect to the internet and other devices (usually via Bluetooth) to provide real-time information regarding worker safety. It not only performs its original function of protecting workers from hazards, but it also collects data on workers’ movements, adjusts to internal and external conditions, and notifies workers of possible improvements regarding movement or positioning.
Wearable technology has become more common in monitoring and preventing workplace injuries, as well as detecting workers’ compensation fraud. Despite concerns over privacy issues, smart PPE appears to be gaining traction in the global PPE market. It promises to improve worker safety and productivity and to reduce employer workers’ compensation costs by facilitating greater on-site safety management.
Types of Smart PPE
Smart PPE has already been utilized in certain industries such as mining, oil and gas, manufacturing, and transportation. The global insurance company, American International Group (AIG), has already invested in a smart PPE startup. According to the startup’s CEO, their technology uses artificial intelligence and cloud computing to monitor worker safety and health. Some emerging types of PPE include:
- Eye and face protection: Workers can send audio and video of the worksite back to control centers, which can then also send workers feedback and data.
- Fall protection: With fall protection PPE, danger points or patterns can be identified to help reduce the number of falls in the workplace.
- Head protection: Hardhats with smart technology, or “e-hats” allow a worker to transmit video and audio data to employers offsite.
- Hearing protection: Some companies have implemented smart phone apps that gauge noise decibels and other hearing protection products that can be used in conjunction with smartphones.
- Protective clothing, gloves, and footwear: Smart clothing is designed to monitor workers’ body temperature and other conditions while working in extreme cold; others may be able to detect hazardous levels of gas, chemicals, heat, sound and UV radiation.
The State of Smart PPE
Some have voiced concerns over the privacy risks associated with smart PPE – users’ information may be collected and shared without permission or the devices may be hacked and remotely controlled.
However, for now, smart PPE is likely to be cost prohibitive for many small businesses. That will likely change as the technology becomes more mainstream and larger corporate consumers make greater investments in worker safety.
Reading Workers’ Compensation Lawyers at Larry Pitt & Associates, P.C. Advocate for Workers’ Rights to Quality Personal Protective Equipment
If you were injured at work or you have a work-related illness, contact a Reading work injury lawyer at Larry Pitt & Associates, P.C. You may be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits, including payment for medical expenses and lost wages. For a free consultation, please complete our online contact form or call us at 888-PITT-LAW.
We proudly represent injured workers in Berks County, Bucks County, Chester County, Delaware County, Montgomery County, Philadelphia County and throughout Pennsylvania, including those in the communities of Abington, Ambler, Ardmore, Bala Cynwyd, Bensalem, Clifton Heights, Crum Lynne, Darby, Downingtown, Doylestown, Drexel Hill, Essington, Folcroft, Glenolden, Haverford, Havertown, Holmes, Kutztown, Lansdowne, Media, Merion Station, Morton, Narberth, Norristown, Norwood, Philadelphia, Prospect Park, Quakertown, Reading, Roxborough, Sharon Hill, Upper Darby, West Chester and Wynnewood.