Industrial workplaces need to be safer. Around the world, nearly 400 million workers are injured on the job every year, according to the International Labour Organization. Almost 3 million people lose their lives to workplace accidents and illnesses. Traditional safety programs, where they’ve been implemented, clearly aren’t enough to eliminate workplace hazards.
A new generation of IoT tools and applications is helping to change the industrial-safety status quo. Sensors, wearables, and location tags provide real-time data that can prevent accidents—and greatly improve response times when something does go wrong.
However, with the rapid pace of IoT development, it can be hard for health and safety personnel to know which solutions provide the greatest benefit today. While every industrial facility faces unique hazards, the following five IoT systems can help create a safer workplace in most industrial environments.
IoT for Industrial Safety: The Top 5 Solutions
All IoT systems consist of at least three elements:
- The sensors, which gather data from the point of generation
- The gateway, which collects data from sensors and manages traffic to and from other systems
- Data analytics and processing systems, which change IoT data into usable insights, and communicate these through a user interface
While our list may focus on one of these three elements at a time, each item requires the whole IoT ecosystem to function, of course. With that in mind, here are five IoT solutions that can make your industrial workplace safer today.
1. Condition Monitoring Sensors
Industrial temperature and humidity sensors can help you spot dangerous conditions immediately. If a temperature rises out of a safe range, for instance, the sensor sends a real-time alert to your staff. That gives you time to shut down malfunctioning machinery and prevent catastrophes.
Detailed condition data can also empower predictive analytics: advanced algorithms that spot rising chances of future failure. With real-time notifications and predictive tools, industrial facilities can greatly reduce the risk of injury-causing accidents.
2. Entry and Authentication Wearables
Unauthorized use of equipment is unsafe. So is unauthorized entry into hazardous or sensitive areas of your facility. Wearable dynamic IoT tags can help to prevent these hazards in two ways.
First, they use near-field communication (NFC) technology to grant access to rooms and equipment only to authorized personnel. Second, they provide real-time location data. If unauthorized access occurs, security staff will know about it without delay.
3. Human Detection Security Systems
Millimeter wave radar sensors create powerful new opportunities for IoT security systems. This technology can detect human movement with high sensitivity, even through walls and other barriers.
This keeps staff safer by preventing bad actors from gaining access to your facility. But a system built on millimeter wave radar sensors can also monitor personnel’s vital signs in an unobtrusive way. Millimeter wave radar sensors even detect movement, such as falls, allowing you to take immediate action.
4. Asset Tracking Tags
In the event of a serious workplace injury, quick response times can save lives. In the case of cardiac arrest, 43% of patients in one study survived if they received CPR within four minutes and in-depth care within eight. After either of these time limits elapsed, survival chances began to plummet.
At an industrial workplace, accident response requires equipment: spill kits, defibrillators, first aid kits, etc. Asset tracking tags ensure response staff always know where these life-saving tools are located. In the heat of the moment, they can check the system and grab what they need—without delays as they search for the right tool.
5. Vehicle Telematics Systems
An outdoor mobile LTE gateway can give you vital—and potentially life-saving—information about how your work trucks are being operated. Such a device can detect ignition, so you always know when vehicles start up. It can track location using GPS. And it can act as a hub for other tracking devices—from temperature sensors to accelerometers—allowing you to get real-time data on vehicle use.
Such a system will alert you to accidents, but it can also help prevent them. A door sensor will alert you if a refrigerated trailer is not sufficiently sealed; that way, you can address the issue before spoiling your cargo. Or, if the vehicle temperature exceeds safe limits, the temperature sensor lets you know so you can take prompt action.
How to Get Started with Industrial Safety IoT
Still daunted by the notion of getting started with IoT for industrial safety? Look for a provider that offers all-in-one IoT starter kits. These cost-effective product bundles include sensors, gateways, a cloud platform, and software—everything you need to test your IoT use case in the real-world environment of your facility.
An IoT system that improves safety generally provides a return on your investment with the first accident it prevents. As you work to create a safer industrial workplace, don’t neglect the powerful role of IoT.