Connecting workers to electronic systems from their actual place of work allows companies to monitor their performance, health and safety and make real-time decisions to help them work as effectively as possible. The concept of the connected employee can take many forms, from giving workers devices that wirelessly connect to an EHSQ system to outfitting them with cutting-edge clothing and personal protective equipment (PPE) with embedded sensors.
The issue was the subject of an EHSQ Alliance Conference session, detailing various approaches to drive adoption of these kinds of technologies. “The connected worker drives safety and compliance. It’s really about taking paper out of the system and getting information into it faster,” said a software director at a leading technology manufacturer, explaining that it can sometimes take three months to get paper-based reports into the system.
When EHSQ-related data can be entered into the system automatically, right on the shop floor, the result is time saved. Administrators are able to do higher-value tasks than typing in information that has already been recorded in hard-copy form. Once information is captured, it’s in the system immediately. Decisions can be made quickly, especially in high-risk industries.
In a recent conversation with a worker at a major oil company’s facility, the speaker described how he asked the worker how much time he spent doing paperwork. The answer was, approximately 50 percent of the day.
“I then asked him, ‘If we could help you reduce that paperwork, what would you do with that time?’ He told me he’d be walking around the plant, checking on the workers, making sure they’re doing the things they’re supposed to be doing.”
Remote workers in particular can benefit greatly from being connected. Wireless gas detector technology, for instance, can be embedded into a worker’s PPE. If someone who is wearing this is exposed to a harmful gas, wireless sensors can automatically ping a buddy who’s nearby.
Another key pillar is the analytics capability – essentially, analyzing and making sense of the collected data. Applications will allow companies to grab information about a worker, such as their fatigue level or their real-time risk of danger, such as a fall. Throughout a given day, a worker’s score will go up and down. Task management can be optimized through this kind of tool. As a result, managers can, for instance, avoid giving a difficult task to someone who’s fatigued.