A starting point to protecting staff from coronavirus

COVID-19 has taught us many things, but one important focal point has become our vulnerability around illness in the workplace. As we navigate the new normal, resources like the CDC’s guidance to businesses in response to COVID-19 are a good starting point. However, one cannot help but wonder what future workplace health processes will look like.

While we are still refining best practice on coronavirus mitigation and management, the pandemic has become a catalyst for a smarter, automated approach to protecting health at work. Indeed, COVID-19 has seen accelerated growth around cost-effective smart technologies extending to a range of different health concerns, which have far-reaching benefits for workplace safety. With 1.4 million workers suffering from work-related ill-health, the time is ripe to thoroughly examine and implement smart health processes. Here are the top five ways smart technologies are protecting staff from illness.

1. Temperature checking

Temperature is widely regarded as an early sign of many illnesses and the use of temperature testing technology has been adopted around the world to assist in curbing the spread of COVID-19 and other diseases. Smart temperature checking solutions have transformed this into a seamless, non-invasive, automated process. Readings are conducted on entry. This can be conducted individually and can also scan crowds in large warehouses or factory spaces, airports, stadia, and schools and universities.

Using facial recognition and infrared thermal technology, access control can be tailored around high temperatures and the presence of masks – and real-time alerts on these factors allow business owners to demonstrate a  duty of care. Additionally, these medically-accurate readings are securely sent to a cloud-based dashboard and can be integrated with existing systems to drive traceability.

2. Automated Legionella compliance

With many offices lying dormant as a result of COVID-19, so the risk of Legionella increases – and our awareness around this disease-carrying bacteria. Legionella thrives in stagnant water between 20 and 50°C and carries the potentially fatal Legionnaires’ Disease. As buildings have reopened, businesses have been warned to flush their water systems to minimise the risk of bacteria growth.

Legionella, however, is an ongoing compliance concern for businesses, which need to conduct regular temperature testing to meet their statutory obligations. This takes up time and resources – and goes in-hand with a risk of human error.

Automated Legionella sampling provides consistent, reliable readings and actionable alerts whenever undesirable conditions are detected. This means that resources can be deployed as the need arises. This can also be an early warning of faults with valves and pipework which, in complex systems, can be costly the longer they are left undetected. Automatically transmitted readings are stored on business’s cloud-based dashboards, which serves to meet their statutory record-keeping requirements.

3. Air quality

Good ventilation is one of the cornerstones of the CDC’s COVID-19 advice to businesses – and ventilation has always been key to the maintenance of a healthy indoor environment. It has also been traditionally hard to monitor. A system of tags and sensors, with data readings delivered to a cloud-based interface, enables building and business owners to know when (and for how long) areas are ventilated. It also allows you to monitor and regulate HVAC usage remotely for total control of mechanical ventilation, no matter where you are.

Smart technologies can also provide real-time alerts on atmospheric changes. This includes humidity (the main cause of mould and damp), noxious gases, and pollutants. Whether an immediate response is required or long-term health effects are being safeguarded, these are powerful insights for health-focussed businesses.

4. Equipment monitoring

One hundred and eleven workers were killed in work-related accidents in the UK in 2019/2020. While not all of these fatalities were caused by machine malfunctions, keeping machines working at optimum levels has a knock-on effect when it comes to the health and safety of workers. Being able to monitor the finer details of a machine’s functioning empowers insights which impact health. Smart technologies collect and deliver in-depth data on metrics of your choosing, providing instant notifications and empowering action like never before.

As an example, the HSE reported 180 new claims of Hand-Arm Vibration Syndrome in 2018. Smart technologies give a dynamic view of machine usage duration and vibration to ensure:

  • workers take breaks
  • their work environment is at the right temperature
  • tools are regularly maintained and working as they should.

Similarly, issues like noise-related deafness can be prevented by close monitoring of noise levels in relation to workers.

5. Workstation monitoring

Smart technologies can make for healthier workstations in a range of ways. From enforcing social distancing to keeping workers to ensuring regular enough breaks for productivity and wellbeing, smart technologies like occupancy monitoring can be used as simply or innovatively as you desire. This can also assist in gauging things like display screen exposure and office temperature.

The smarter way to protect workers

Data-driven strategies in the workplace and smart buildings are on course to become the new normal. Smarter Technologies has developed a suite of smart technology solutions – connected over the Orion Data Network – which can be tailored to the needs of all enterprises and applications. These solutions offer benefits across businesses of all sizes and are set to transform profitability and productivity. Workplace health and safety is always a primary concern. These simple, powerful, integrable technologies are easily implemented to safeguard wellbeing at work and protect staff from coronavirus.