U.S. Military Performs Trial Run Of Wearable for Preventing Workplace Accidents

No matter where you work, there is a chance that you will get injured on the job. In the United...

Maurizio Pesce, Wikimedia Commons

No matter where you work, there is a chance that you will get injured on the job. In the United States, workplace accidents are a huge problem. A total of 5,333 workers died from a work-related injury in the U.S. in 2019, up 2 percent from 2018, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Costs from these injuries, illnesses, and fatalities have exceeded $250 billion annually.

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Technology can play a vital role in reducing workplace injuries. Flexible sensors that alert workers and managers to danger at the earliest opportunity, may become a useful weapon in the fight against workplace accidents.

The U.S. military performed a trial run of this technology. Aptima, a Woburn, MA-based company whose mission has been to optimize and improve human performance in mission-critical, technology-intensive settings, developed an IoT approach to worker wearable technology by fusing a combination of environmental, human, and locational data from the worker, analyzing it in the cloud, and providing real-time detection and alerting through its SafeGuard software platform, reports ZDNet. Aptima developed this technology through partnerships with NextFlex, the U.S. Air Force, and Lockheed Martin.

SafeGuard fuses a combination of environmental, human, and locational data from a worker’s sensors, analyzing it in the cloud and at the edge to provide real-time detection and alerting.  For a mechanic welding inside a ship compartment, for example, algorithms assess their physiological, atmospheric, and other indicators, including heart rate, breathing, air quality, and motion, detecting risks such as dangerous levels of fuel vapors or low oxygen, and their health status.

Unlike current safety protocols that rely on one-to-one observers to check in with confined space workers at intervals, SafeGuard’s cloud-based monitoring enables a single safety manager to oversee the real-time health and safety of 15-20 workers simultaneously, even tracking their precise locations in GPS denied environments, Aptima said in a blog post.

Predictive alerts and intuitive at-a-glance “green-yellow-red status indicators provide continuous, comprehensive monitoring for proactive injury prevention. In the case of high-risk or man-down situations, SafeGuard’s built-in decision support capabilities facilitate the appropriate intervention, including emergency or medical response when seconds and minutes are crucial.

For lone and remote workers, such as utility and power grid personnel at risk from falls or electrical shock while far from others, SafeGuard’s motion- and fall-detection, and man-down alerts are uniquely suited to providing these vital monitoring and response needs.

The SafeGuard platform is sensor agnostic. The patented fusion engine technology and big data modeling can integrate and correlate nearly any sensor and data type to provide monitoring and predictive alerting for specific jobs and occupational safety requirements.

Because SafeGuard’s underlying technology was initially developed for stringent military application, its algorithms have been validated to prevent false positives. The Safety-as-a-Service platform employs encryption and other data security measures for transmission, cloud storage, and privacy requirements.

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In January, President Biden signed an executive order protecting worker health and safety and pushing for additional resources to help employers protect employees. Technological advancements like this may save millions of workers’ lives.

With over $10M in investments from the Department of Defense, and private sectors, Aptima is applying its solution to any multi-domain organizations requiring personnel to operate in risk-laden environments.

Sam Draper
May 19, 2021

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