The statistics are sobering: Workplace injuries cost U.S. businesses more than $1 billion every week. Industrial jobs have consistently resulted in the largest number of workplace injuries and illnesses in the private sector. In 2016, according to the U.S. Department of Labor, that number accounted for more than 63,000 cases in the United States alone.

Since the health of your enterprise depends on the health of your workers, it’s imperative to develop procedures and solutions that will improve worker safety and productivity.

According to Wonjin Kim, Samsung’s lead for digital health & safety solutions, wearable technology offers significant potential to improve not just safety, but also communications and efficiency for industrial workforces who need to keep their hands free. New smartwatches feature intuitive interfaces and intelligent sensors for tracking vitals, movement and location. However, they must be paired with an enterprise-level task management and worker safety platform to be effectively deployed at scale, says Kim.

Understanding this need, Samsung has developed the GearUP platform for its Galaxy Watch, delivering a cloud-based solution to make industrial workers safer, more productive and improve field communications.

Poor Communication Catalyzes Injuries

According to Kim, one of the biggest challenges for on-the-move workers, especially in potentially hazardous environments, is a lack of comprehensive, real-time information rooted in poor communications. This can create dangerous situations, such as:

  • Workers not knowing which areas are off-limits due to recent field activity

  • Management not knowing where workers are located in an emergency
  • Lone workers being injured and unable to contact managers or emergency services to request help

When workers are on the move, traditional email can’t be relied upon as the source of real-time information, as it places a lopsided burden on the employee. Two-way radios are often used for communication between employees and superintendents, but they too have limitations — they require a free hand and can be difficult to hear in noisy environments.

A More Efficient Solution

GearUP on the Samsung Galaxy Watch provides a convenient wearable solution, acting as a communication and coordination platform to connect workers with their supervisors. Management can access a cloud-based dashboard to supervise operations and proactively communicate with on-the-ground personnel about dangers and updated developments.

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Kim says that one of the key values of GearUP is that it provides real-time tracking so both management and workers know they’re working off of the most current information. It is also equipped with a geofencing feature, which flags danger zones and provides alerts to workers, thereby keeping them safe. By allowing supervisors to track workers’ locations during emergencies, the smartwatch solution can help better coordinate the response.

In addition to keeping workers safe and productive and supervisors informed, GearUP also delivers workforce coordination at scale: Management can now stay in touch not just with one worker on the field, but with multiple workers at multiple sites.

Fatigue Leads to Failures

Poor communication is not the only reason for compromised worker safety, says Kim. Fatigue is another significant factor that comes into play — especially when workers log round-the-clock shifts or are in physically demanding environments, such as heat.

GearUP helps by monitoring the worker’s physical activity and nudging them when it’s a time for a break. Equally important, LTE connectivity and a battery that lasts all day without charging make it a reliable solution for long days on the job site or on the road.

Industrial jobs have long been dangerous, but with the right wearable personal protection solution, the risk of incidents is reduced and response time is accelerated. Given that 81 percent of CIOs surveyed for a Robert Half technology report shared that they expect wearables such as smartwatches to become common workplace fixtures, learning and adopting this technology is now an important step to ensuring your enterprise is staying up-to-speed with workplace safety trends.

Learn how GearUP on the Galaxy Watch can help make your workforce safer and more productive.

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Poornima Apte

Poornima Apte is a mechanical engineer turned award-winning writer. Her work has been published by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, TechCrunch, VentureBeat, OZY, Vox Media and other publications.

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