Connected Occupational Safety and Health for a safer world

Published by Telefónica IoT Team IoT General

We reach another one of those often overlooked milestones of the year that we should never let pass us by. The International Labour Organization (ILO), a specialized agency of the United Nations, designated in 2006 the 28th of April as the World Day for Safety and Health at Work. The theme to celebrate the eleventh edition is “Workplace Stress: a collective challenge”.   

Occupational health and safety (OSH) is the regulatory area concerned in assuring the welfare of people engaged in work at their workplace. The IoT has a great deal to say in this front as many business areas that benefit from digitization are implementing automation processes that not only reduce direct manual intervention but also increase the safety this work is carried out with, as a consequence. Let’s see some examples of how technology puts safety at the workplace at the top of its priorities.

Smart Buildings are currently the most connected space within Smart Cities according to recent Gartner estimation. We shared an infographic about the connected office. Connected Elevators ensure the safety and reliability on trips that employees take up and down buildings in order to get to work. In this case m2m communications are a fail proof backup system in case the elevator stops working. 

Connected Drones for civil use are an effective way of applying technology to drastically improve safety for dangerous tasks that were previously only possible through technology. Firefighting drones are one of the most consolidated civil uses of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV). These flying connected devices also serve as forest patrol agents or as supervisors of unmanned large infrastructures like railroads or pipelines. Coast guards are using drones to check for oil spills or for lifeguard early alert. Some countries are leading the use of drones to improve health and safety conditions. Japan and Australia are taking steps, as well, to allow for drones to survey in mines or carry out crop dusting, a step which will require labour specialization but at the same time will require exposing fewer workers to hazardous situations where an accident is more likely to happen. Even in road traffic, drones are being used along with traffic helicopters to supervise vehicle traffic and spot accidents early on.

Anu Sood helped us understand how m2m technology is currently being used on oil rigs, pipelines, tanks, wells and oil & gas vehicles. To illustrate two of these uses, oil rigs are sometimes cold-stacked but they cannot remain abandoned. Previously it was a matter which could only be solved by manning them. Technology now allows monitoring these offshore assets with m2m and GPS services. In the case of vehicles, their location and operation can be tracked. Companies can ensure the safety of drivers and compliance with international health and safety regulations. Alerts are sent when drivers are speeding, travelling outside of pre-determined geofences or when the panic button is pressed.

These are only a few, of the many examples, where technology makes a difference in order to improve safety and health conditions at the workplace. The future will surely provide more applications where digitizations improves OHS.

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Telefónica IoT Team