Knowledge is power: Digitalization to enhance industrial safety
Digitalization is key for improving industrial processes; it contributes to visibility and allows industries to create safer workplaces for their teams.
Non-digital spaces still exist. Trust me, they still do.
Imagine going to a world where everything is done by paper and pen. While some of you might think of the land of utopia for the endless possibilities of being offline, let me tell you, these places do exist and look a lot like your worst nightmare.
You go to work, write things down in different sheets, and all of these ideas are just at your desk or on your notepad. So much paper needs to be stored somewhere, and decision making now looks like a police investigation dashboard connecting all the dots in order to establish a train of thought. If you need to find someone at work, you scroll through a never ending list of names in order to find them, and then you need to walk the entire place in order to reach them. You can’t just write their names on your phone and call them, they are as offline as you are.
And let’s imagine something happened to that person and they need help. No one can find them and when you do, it might be too late. But if you had find them on time, what would you do? There is no phone to call 911. How can you solve this? By shouting? Running for help? The list of possibilities is far from endless and all options are the opposite of effective.
Well, that’s how industrial factories looked like in 1910 and… spoiler alert, that’s how they look now too. Throughout the decades, machinery and production processes have improved, becoming more efficient, cost effective and safer, but connectivity, and the way deskless workers do their daily activities hasn’t changed a bit in generations. Also, their job journey involves many more risks compared to office workers, and they have an accident ratio of 1 every 100 workers each year, with associated costs that can ascend to more than USD 280,000 per event. Suddenly this analogical and offline world became real, tangible and far from utopic, right? It is a risky world, not efficient as far as safety is concerned and an expensive one when things do not work perfectly. So like I said, this might remind you of your worst nightmare, alone, injured, shouting and no one to hear you and help you.
How does safety work in a non digital world?
In order to be safe, workers must wear their PPEs (personal protective equipment) and follow safety golden rules established by authorities, but they can’t count with technology and digitalization to be and remain safe, but we’ll get to that eventually. These golden rules, also called “Life Saving Rules”, have been created by companies to create safer workplaces, and are redesigned annually based on feedback. Workers are compelled to obey them and can be suspended and notified if they are proven to violate them. Some of these life saving rules cover high risk situations, mechanicals and tools, protective equipment, confined spaces and work at height, among others. So like we said before, your life depends on a list, that workers must memorize, or might be posted on the wall somewhere in the premises. Offline paradise? I hardly think so.
Enough of this offline world, let’s get back to our known online life, where people use their phone from the minute they wake up till they go to sleep. Meetings, calendars, everything is registered and done online, can even spend months without touching a pen. Daily life is measured online with real time data. Workplace hazards may include nasty papercuts, or maybe a coffee spill on top your keyboard. If someone suddenly faints at the office, others that can pick up the phone and call 911, managers, etc. Shouting can be included but it’s only optional, not the difference between life or death. They are digitialized workers and they have endless possibilities.Industrial workers are not. And that is a huge disadvantage.
Digitalization brings visibility, therefore, safety
Digitalization isn’t a machine or robot that will replace human jobs. It is much more than that. The digital world is big and it covers a lot of aspects, one of them is visibility, that gives us data, data provides knowledge and knowledge is power… Power to make better decisions, quicker and of course, safer ones too.
Technologies such as IoT and IA can empower industrial workers and managers, giving them tools to apply best practices. Some of these technologies can include IoT devices with alarms, panic buttons, sensors that can detect work at heights, falls, speed, restricted areas, etc. Rules that can be included on digital platforms with desired action items, responsibles and champions triggered every time an event occurs.
Now, all these tools and possibilities can be part of the industrial workers daily life, a world where they could count not only on their knowledge and attention, (that can vary from day to day), but on a little extra digital help. Empowering workers with digital innovations will give them the chance to reduce risks by relying not only on themselves and others to remain safe.
Embracing the opportunities digitalization has to offer.
With data, and thus visibility, managers get to know what happened and why, allowing them to make strategic decisions for the future, redesigning and achieving better and more solid golden rules, all pointed towards improving occupational safety. Did you know that 75% of all industrial accidents are due to human factors? What would happen if we could give them the tools they need to apply life saving rules, some of them without even thinking?
Safety golden rules are based on feedback and experience. It is time to start embracing the opportunities digital advancement are bringing to the table, and to be able to have the entire picture, total and complete information of our operation on a screen, collected, combined and analyzed. That’s when we will be able to protect our teams in a better way, and visualize our weak points, turning them into opportunities for a brighter future. It is time to wake up from this offline world and live on the online and connected present.
If you want to learn more about digitalizating industrial environments and our digital PPE, click on www.drixit.com