At the 2018 RIMS Annual Conference, Tom Ryan from Willis Towers Watson talked about wearable technology in workers’ compensation.
Wearables are devices worn on the body that collect information about you and your environment. That information is then provided wirelessly for processing and reporting.
One of the concerns around the use of wearable technology in the workplace is privacy. Unions are often very wary of these devices tracking every move an employee makes. There are potential legal ramifications around the data that is collected, including how that data is used and whether that data is shared with others – either intentionally or via a breach.
The most common wearables are bracelets worn on the wrist. However, there are also wearables implanted into clothing, shoes and head gear. Implantable devices are the newest wearable technology and these can take data collection and tracking to a new level, providing 24-hour information. There are significant privacy concerns around this as well. In fact, there has been federal legislation introduced to prohibit employers from requiring their employees to be implanted with any device.
From a workplace safety standpoint, wearables can have many benefits. They can track whether employees are over-exerting, being exposed to temperature extremes, or even hazardous materials. GPS technology can help the employer know where employees are located, which can help diminish the possibility of people trapped. Location trackers can also alert employees to potential dangers in a particular area.
From a claims standpoint, wearables can assist in injury recovery by tracking compliance with activity levels and taking medications.