How Businesses Can Mitigate Sick Employees in the Workplace

COVID-19 has taught us many things, but one important focal point has become our vulnerability around sick employees in the workplace. As we adapt to the new normal, one cannot help but wonder what future workplace health processes will look like.

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. As a paramount concern for employers, it is not surprising that many of these measures have been adopted into the long term for the myriad benefits they provide.

With 1.4 million workers suffering from work-related ill-health, the time is ripe to thoroughly examine and implement smart health processes. Looking for workplace illness prevention tips? Here are the top six ways smart technologies are protecting staff from illness.

1. Legionella compliance

Dormant office buildings and work from home culture are on the rise. This increases the risk of Legionella. Our awareness around this disease-carrying bacteria has grown alongside infections, but it demands our ongoing attention as part of a commitment to workplace health and preventing sick employees in the workplace. 

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 – but this is required for all buildings where dormancy of water systems is observed.

Legionella 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.

2. Air quality

Air pollution has a dire effect on human health, causing disease, death, and shortened lifespan. According to Environmental Protection UK, it costs the UK £20 billion a year. They have recommended national and local government to assist in bringing down harmful pollutant levels through monitoring, regulation, and enforcement.

Air quality monitoring is essential when creating a healthy environment because it allows a building to monitor the level of outside air coming into the building, and the stale air being expelled. Ventilation is also important because it dilutes airborne pathogens and, in turn, reduces the chance of spreading disease.

Air quality laws are tightening – a valuable safeguard for health. These laws have become especially topical after the Court of Justice of the European Union’s ruling that the UK has ‘systematically and persistently’ showed excessive levels of nitrogen dioxide since 2010. This was found in the context of many years of warning from the European Commission. These pollution levels are both illegal and raise concern for being harmful. Effective air quality monitoring gives the authorities the ability to target areas for change. As air quality has become the focus of regulation (as it has for some time within the UK), its enforcement stands to be dramatically streamlined by smart air quality monitoring systems.

Today, most people spend 90% of their daily lives inside the built environment. Good ventilation has always been key to the maintenance of healthy indoor spaces. 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-focused businesses in preventing sick employees in the workplace.

3. 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.

4. 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.

5. Vulnerable and lone worker protection

Lone workers and vulnerable workers require enhanced protection efforts. Where these workers perform their duties in remote and treacherous locations, so the benefit of extra safeguards is required. Smart technologies provide allocated personnel with instant alerts on unusual activities – sent to their remote dashboards. This allows for quick and effective intervention in the event of an issue.

6. A smarter way to monitor workplace health and safety

Smart building monitoring is an excellent way to enhance how we manage all-of-operations health and safety. Through a system of smart tags and sensors, everything from smoke and heat detectors to fire extinguishers, alarms, and exits can be remotely monitored to ensure high levels of compliance and consistent maintenance standards. It is reasonable to expect statutory requirements to become far more rigorous when it comes to the safety, as well as environmentally. Full visibility of operations gives managers and operators the upper hand and assists in future-proofing buildings in the face of ever-changing regulations.

Prevent sick employees in the workplace with smart technologies

Scalable applicability

These technologies are a potent alternative to traditional building monitoring, maintenance, and management methods because of their accessibility. Whether you are a small business or a large corporate spanning multiple locations, what can be effectively monitored can be effectively managed. Data has become more than a buzzword in recent times. It has become the building blocks of smart building processes, strategic decision-making, and powerful on-the-ground results. The smart building solutions from Smarter Technologies Group are simple and cost-effective – the perfect place to start.

Customisable reporting and notifications

With data transmitted to a remote, central dashboard, you are empowered to set bespoke thresholds depending on your particular subject area. This means gas leaks and extensive area safety can be monitored in equal measure. Cloud-based record-keeping also minimises manual processes for reporting purposes, reducing the chance of human error, saving administrative resources, and streamlining record-keeping.

Powered by the Orion Data Network, this smart system can also be programmed to send alerts when allocated thresholds are breached. This could mean anything from undesirable building occupancy numbers to atmospheric changes – and a range of other metrics in between.

Retrospective strategic planning

The key to change is understanding. There is no greater premise to understanding than data. A building’s data provides a comprehensive overview of causes and effects. This, in turn, creates an opportunity for adapted strategies to achieve impactful results. In addition to their ability to prevent employee illness, smart technologies have a range of advantages around streamlined processes, reduced hit-and-miss strategies, and increased profitability.

Multi-site capability

Not every business operates from a single location. Many business owners and managers face the unenviable task of managing multiple – and sometimes remote and dangerous – sites. Smart technologies address these challenges directly, with data transmitted in real time to a centralised remote dashboard across even multi-site applications. With full-site visibility across different locations, this gives managers the power to monitor and manage operations to high levels.

The smarter way to protect workers from illness

Data-driven strategies in the workplace and smart buildings are on course to become the new normal. Smarter Technologies Group 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. 

Get the complete guide to smart buildings from Smarter Technologies Group and contact us for more information on how these solutions can prevent staff illness.