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Managing Musculoskeletal Injury Risks with Wearable Technology

The costliest Workers’ Compensation claims, after serious injury and death, are musculoskeletal back, shoulder, and lower limb injuries. Until recently, the only way that safety professionals could manage this risk was through subjective, option-based assessments and one-size-fits-all manual handling training programs.

Enter Wearable Technology.

Originally used in elite sports, to keep athletes performing at their peak, wearables have now found their way into the workplace. Small sensors can be placed on the back, arm, or other limbs, to measure movement data and quantify injury risk.

Smartphone apps are then used to collect accompanying videos, and to deliver instant ‘movement coaching’ alerts to workers when they move in a way that puts them at risk. They are also used to deliver insights back to frontline teams in the form of short training modules.

Put simply, technology is now allowing companies to better understand the risk profile of their workforce, and to provide bespoke injury prevention training to individuals. In the same way that professional sports coaches deliver customized injury prevention programs for every player in their team.

Wearable Technology is also now being used in return-to-work. To reduce the risk of re-injury by providing validated movement data and video to the medical teams that are making decisions around ‘light duties’ and work capacity. And, by measuring the daily movements of a worker as they return to full duties.

The Lucidity Software team recently met with Preventure for a demo of their platform. The two snippets below will help you understand how the technology is being used to help companies across ANZ and North America;

1. Remote Task Assessments with Objective Data

Screenshot or Preventure Software

This logistics company has Preventure subscriptions for video Task Assessments. Any safety professional or supervisor on-site can record a worker completing a task, while they are wearing a back and arm sensor. Once it’s saved, this report will immediately be available in the cloud-based data dashboard for review. In this case, management realized that the machinery was getting jammed and putting their drivers at a high-risk of shoulder injuries. With aging workforces, torn rotator cuffs are a growing problem, and the team needed to solve this. Again, using the Preventure app, they tested different tools and techniques, eventually finding that simply having the drivers face a different direction (towards the front of the truck), significantly reduced the risk profile for this task. They then taught this new technique to all their drivers.

2. Workers Have Different Movement Habits & Risk Profiles

Companies also have Movement Coaching subscriptions for their workers. They can rotate back and arm sensors, asking everyone to wear them for at least 5 full shifts. Not only will the individual get alerts in real-time then they are putting their body at risk. But once their reports are saved, their scores will be visible in the cloud-based data dashboard for review. In this case, management can see which workers (with red and yellow scores) need additional training and support. By using objective data in this way, it’s easy to see where you should direct your internal resources for maximum ROI.

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