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Digital tools and workplace accident prevention, part 1

The technological revolution we are living through now has already transformed the way millions of people communicate and conduct many aspects of their daily lives.

After all, the fabulous capacities of smartphones would have been the stuff of science fiction not that long ago. But when a worker enters a typical industrial setting, the same old dangers of fires, falls and explosions await.

In this post, we will discuss some of what technology may have to offer in preventing workplace accidents and injuries in the Baltimore area and across the nation. To be sure, technology cannot cure all illnesses or prevent all accidents. But it is possible that one of the next waves of the digital revolution will be improved use of technology to promote workplace safety.

Consider, for example, personal protective equipment (PPE) such as goggles, helmets and clothing that can shield a worker from some forms of harm on the job. There is no question that PPE is useful in guarding workers against many types of workplace injuries.

But what if instead of traditional goggles, a worker were wearing goggles equipped with Google Glass, the emerging wearable computer?

In an environment known to be hazardous, the enhanced awareness of dangers provided by the computer could help a worker detect chemical spills, fires or other dangers sooner. Such a worker would conceivably be better able to take protective action.

We're not suggesting that every industrial worker should be fitted with a cyborg suit, like the character played by Matt Damon in the film "Elysium." What we're saying is that there are surely ways that the smart-data revolution can be applied to the creation of smarter, safer workplaces.

Source: Wired, "Forget the Smart City. . . Start With the Smart Workplace," Chris Chasty, Nov. 1, 2013

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