The human cost of work-related accident is beyond imagination
Every 15 seconds, a worker dies from a work-related accident or disease. In Europe only, 3.720 workers died in 2013… Those figures are just horrifying and unacceptable for all of us.
Indeed, every day 6.300 people die from work related causes worldwide, i.e. a cumulative 2.3 million deaths per year (including occupational accidents: 320.000 and diseases: 2.022.000). 1 million people are injured on the job every day, some (if not most) of those injuries resulting in preventing them to work at their full capacities for the rest of their lives, resulting in considerable losses of future earnings for these people and their Community. According to the European Statistics on Work-Related Accidents: Fatalities at work in Europe show an incidence anywhere between 1 to 6 per 100,000 people employed, resulting in 3,729 fatalities in 2013 for the 28 UE countries, and more than 3 million “serious” accidents (involving at least 4 days of absence from work).
A tremendous economic cost
It is estimated that 4% of annual worldwide GDP (i.e. USD 2.8 trillion in 2009) is due to direct and indirect costs of occupational accidents and diseases (lost working time, workers’ compensation, interruption of production and medical expenses) According to a European Agency for Safety and Health at Work(EU-OSHA) study released in 2017, “work-related accidents and injuries cost EU €476 billion a year according to new global estimates”. This tremendous amount equals almost the yearly healthcare expenditure for France and Germany together!
Existing PPE answer partially the problem
Traditional PPEs (Personal Protective Equipment) are partially addressing work-related issues (accident, disease or accident after-effects). Shoes protect feet, gloves protect hands… But which PPE protects actively the worker life anytime anywhere? Well, it does not exist (yet). Most PPE are passive, meaning that they cannot make their own decisions and/or be autonomous enough to connect to remote places without requiring a smartphone connection.
Smart PPE: the solution ?
Making PPE smart and connected seems the solution! By leveraging IoT and IIoT technologies, it’s now possible to transform almost any PPE into smart PPE able to handle simple to complex occupational accidents, and eventually to save lives.
But be careful not to add more problems by providing a smart PPE that could raise health or privacy issues. For instance, we are reluctant (based on our field interviews, we observe that workers themselves are quite worried too) about head-based smart PPE that integrate too much communication and hardware. It looks like “smart cap”, “smart glasses” or “smart hat” are not targeting the best human body place to provide the full range of technology due to brain proximity and cancer risks. Nevertheless, basic hardware can be integrated into hat or cap as long as they do not radiate too much and connect to a body gateway far away from breast and head (feet being a good place). BLE connectivity looks to be the right candidate to connect safely different PPEs to a PPE acting as worker hub.
In addition, smart PPEs enable new industry 4.0 solutions such as predictive maintenance or more globally “connected workers” solutions.