COVID19 has brought an unprecedented challenge for businesses around the globe in how they operate. Employee safety measures have become the primary concern of enterprises while assuring business continuity. While awareness is recent, safety has been a persistent challenge historically.
A shocking yet not surprising report from International Labour Organisation claims that occupational accidents and work-related diseases claim more than 2.78 million deaths per year globally in addition to around 374 million non-fatal injuries which lead to more than four days of absence from work.1
Across the globe, the labour laws and regulations, have begun to lay more emphasis on the safe workplace environment for the employees. In recent years, companies have also started focusing on employee safety owing to stricter regulations but more so because of the realisation of the importance of a safer work environment which otherwise not only has a monetary impact but also affects the reputation and goodwill of the firm. The damage to the enterprise from any such incident is twofold affecting both the top and bottom line. On the one hand, it hurts brand image, encourages customers disassociation, and invites regulatory intervention, while on the other, it increases employee distrust, drops employee satisfaction, spikes attrition, and lowers productivity.
Such challenges have further escalated with the unfortunate advent of the COVID19 pandemic calling for a swift transformation in business operations and particularly ensuring the safety of their employees at the workplace.
IoT solutions provide immense possibilities for enterprises to not only avert any immediate unfortunate incidents but also leverage the strengths of cloud and analytics to build a database of employees’ health history over time. The health history also helps in foreseeing possible risks and even helps in contact tracing if the need arises. During current unprecedented times, enterprises can ensure running fully operational workplaces by considering below pandemic related use cases:
- Ensuring the health and wellness of employees: Monitoring of Vitals like skin temperature and heart rate for alerts on health and safety issues
- Location Tracking: Track employee location and enable automatic attendance, performance analytics, etc.
- Preventing overcrowding: Alert on overcrowded Zones to monitor the number of people present in a zone at a given time
- Contact tracing: Movement History through employee’s historical movement data across zones
- Hazardous area proximity alert: Geofencing through work area demarcation into zones with alerts & data on employees moving into hazardous areas or out of plant
While such use cases find their significant relevance in any workplace, the need has become extremely dire for industries where Work From Home (WFH) is not possible or where intensive human resource is required, e.g. construction, mining, manufacturing, etc. It could be easily hypothesised that in extreme working conditions like deep underground mines for extraction of minerals, in remote arid refineries etc., timely identification of the hazard and the location becomes paramount to mobilise the emergency response to make a significant difference.
Realising the need for a safer workplace, Tata Communications Transformation Services (TCTS) had forayed into developing employee health and safety solutions through its IoT solutions long before the pandemic. It has now well placed us in a position of serving our customers with a gamut of solutions from smart wearable devices to Smart badges, allowing us to curate our solutions to the needs of our customers. These solutions enable real-time health conditions monitoring of the workforce with periodic temperature, heart rate and location updates, instantaneous alerts for sudden spikes or drops in heart rate, and fall detection alerts resulting in immediate emergency response and subsequent medical actions.
We have reengineered the IoT solutions to include more features and functionalities like hazardous area proximity alerts, geo-fencing, features preventing overcrowding, ensuring social distancing proximity alerts, etc. These features will help enterprises to serve their employees better in these unprecedented times. We understand the privacy concern of the employees and the objective of incorporating the features and functionalities is not the full-time tracking of the employees but to track and monitor the relevant parameters only during the hours of operations. These solutions are also customisable according to the needs of the customer. The exact parameters and the tracking frequency mechanism can be updated as per the requirement.
In a scenario where a worker is working at a remote site, we will be able to monitor his health parameters in real-time and act accordingly if the need arises. Also, if the worker meets an unexpected and unfortunate incident that leads to his fall or immobility, an instantaneous alert would reach the emergency response team which will immediately know the location of the worker and be able to gauge the scale of the injury. This alert would, in turn, not only enable them to initiate emergency first aid but also allow them to intimate the healthcare facilities to assure readiness for the given situation.
During the Covid19 pandemic situation, ensuring social distancing to keep the spread of the disease in check is a prerequisite for the case mentioned above. It is better to be prepared and prevent rather repair and repent. These wearable devices allow the management to receive alerts when many workers are either working in proximity for a longer duration of time. Based on the inputs, immediate actions could be taken to discourage such activities. Still, with all the precautions, if someone is infected, the data received from the worker also helps us to track all other workers who came in close contact with the infected individual. This single most crucial feature contains the spread of any such viral disease.
Already showing promising results before the pandemic, such solutions have gained more massive traction with companies realising that IoT isn’t restricted to promising only operational efficiency benefits impacting the bottom line but also contributing to the safety of their employees. Most importantly, these solutions are not just useful during a pandemic but also promise more significant benefits and find relevance beyond, as well.
- Safety and health at work, The International Labour Organization
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Lead- IoT Practice, Tata Communications Transformation Services (TCTS)
Engineering professional with 15 years of experience in Technology Management – Wireless & IoT Practice, Radio Access Network Planning & Optimisation, Technical Consultancy & Pre-sales.
Sunil is an engineering professional with 15 years of experience in Technology Management – Wireless & IoT Practice, Radio Access Network Planning & Optimisation, Technical Consultancy & Pre-sales. He is currently leading IoT-Practice at TCTS in which he is developing an IoT ecosystem for managed service across multiple elements right from End Devices, Access Network, Data Aggregation, Software application & Integration.