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Body Sensors Used to Monitor Fatigue, Reduce Injury Risk

A research paper released today by the American Society of Safety Professionals Foundation features three years of data that demonstrate the benefits using wearable body sensors to monitor fatigue levels and develop interventions to decrease injury risk.

The study involved 25 manufacturing workers who wore non-obtrusive wrist, hip and ankle sensors while completing three common tasks – assembly, stocking and remaining in a static or flexed position. Each person worked in three-hour increments.

The study, Advancing Safety Surveillance Using Individualized Sensor Technology (ASSIST): Final Progress Report, was led by Lora Cavuoto, Ph.D., University at Buffalo, and Fadel Megahed, Ph.D., Farmer School of Business at Miami University of Ohio.

“Fatigue is a hidden danger in the workplace, but now we’ve tackled the measurement and modeling of fatigue through wearable sensors, incorporating big data analytics and safety engineering,” Dr. Cavuoto said. “Information is power, so knowing when, where and how fatigue impacts worker safety is critical. You can’t identify solutions until you pinpoint the problems.”

For example, sensor technology allows researchers to compare how employees performed the same task in the first hour as compared to the third hour of work. The findings are considered a first step in creating a comprehensive framework to identify research-supported interventions that protect workers from injuries caused by being tired on the job.

“Wearable technology can uncover precursors to larger problems and help establish safety interventions that may call for scheduled breaks, posture adjustments or vitamin supplements that help the body,” Dr. Cavuoto said.

Did You Know?

According to the National Safety Council, fatigue costs U.S. employers more than $130 billion a year in health-related lost productivity. In addition, more than 70 million Americans suffer from a sleep disorder. A typical U.S. company with 1,000 employees can expect to lose more than $1 million each year to fatigue, which can often increase the workloads of other human operators. This phenomenon has been reported in advanced manufacturing, warehousing, truck driving, construction and other occupations.

Wearable Ergonomic Assessments

Click here to learn about WorkCare’s Bio-Ergonomic Assessments using wearable technology to detect overuse and reduce risk for costly, painful musculoskeletal disorders among individual workers and throughout an enterprise.