Investing in Ergonomic Safety Wearables? Know The Barriers to Effectiveness

The waning motivation of workers to engage with safety wearables is the real barrier to sustainable behavioral change

Have you ever heard the sentiment that workplace health and safety is boring? All around the globe thousands of workers sit through unengaging, mandatory manual handling training every single day. A compulsory, corporate requirement that takes up valuable work time and has a tendency to sap employee motivation. For the team at Soter Analytics, a technology company that develops wearables and AI products for manual material handling safety in the workplace, shifting the safety culture by using their technology was a challenge.

Jack is in charge of health and safety at a large warehouse distribution center. It is his responsibility to ensure the safety of his team and implement ways to keep them engaged in their own well-being at work. Using wearable technology and data collection for their musculoskeletal safety has been part of his long-term strategy to track progress, find risk areas and enable individualized safety and autonomy for working injury-free.

The choice to use Soter wearables has been a great solution for Jack and his team. A powerful lens, magnifying risk areas and producing impactful data of various elements for safety control.

The small sensors worn on the collar or on an armband on the upper arm, alert the worker when they perform a movement with incorrect posture. The technology is linked back to an app that collects movement data, provides tutorials and personalized improvement programs to assist workers to move better and updates management with data insights collected from the sensors.

The Barrier to Engagement is Motivation

When Jack first implemented Soter wearables, the warehouse was abuzz with excitement as workers engaged with the device and the data in the app. But over time, complacency set in as the ‘shiny object syndrome’ wore off, engagement decreased as novelty waned and workers began to forget or, just not bother to wear the device. 

The ergonomic safety technology industry is not monopolistic, the choices are endless. But switching to another solution would not solve the problem with engagement. It is imperative not to get caught up in short-lived gimmicks. Safety technology is not a panacea; without recognizing and addressing the barriers to adoption, it will not work. It needs to be accompanied by a clear strategy for driving engagement through motivation and clever processes.

The Truth Revealed 

The team at Soter Analytics prides themselves on a consumer-oriented approach that keeps their customers comfortable to provide honest, non-coercive feedback. So when Jack came to them to discuss the problem he was having with overcoming worker complacency and forgetfulness, they knew they had to take action.  

“Workplace safety is one of those learning practices that people tend to drag their feet to be part of.” said Matthew Hart, Founder and CEO. “We pride ourselves on user-centric design, and of course, love good feedback. It was time to invest in a new approach to engage workers in manual handling training, help them in the process and shift the sentiment.”

How to keep workers engaged with safety wearables?

Soter Analytics is one of the few large players in the ergonomic tech game for material handling. All highly advanced technology companies provide similar products that measure movement and give valuable insight to the wearer via feedback and through the collected data for the organization. One thing they all have in common is the challenge of keeping workers motivated to wear the devices and readily engaged in the training program. 

Firstly, once Soter Analytics identified the need to create a cultural shift in how workers connect with safety training – they invested in an application that makes their wearables fun; gamification

Gamification is based on videogame elements of competition, reward, challenge and social engagement, which have been seen to improve the efficacy of engagement efforts without increasing costs. 

Dr. Anastasia Vasina, Chief Product Officer at Soter Analytics leading the gamification project says, “Why can’t safety be fun? Why is there a stigma around safety being boring and an obligation rather than a continuing game of getting it right? Aligning the value of safety to excitement and using games to motivate, educate and empower a worker’s commitment to safety, is what we are focusing on to drive down injury rates and encourage safe movement”.

Secondly, to assist with helping workers to remember the devices, they developed a solution – the Soter SmartFix. This is a simple attachment that allows the wearables to be integrated into any company personal equipment that is already worn daily, eliminating the need to remember to put it on at the start of a shift. With the 30 day battery life of the Soter devices, there is no need to remove it for the entire duration of the program. 

Referring back to Jack’s organization – the large distribution center that was mentioned earlier –  his workers love competing with themselves and their colleagues, sharing progress and challenging each other to improve. Now, Jack not only eradicated his problem of engagement, but for the first time since he started working in safety, the general attitude and culture amongst his team has shifted to one of dedication and genuine, friendly competition. Furthermore, with the Soter SmartFix, his workers have one less thing to remember before they start their shift, which makes for an easy process.

About Soter Analytics

Soter Analytics is a global safety science company producing AI-supported wearable solutions that reduce the risk of ergonomic injuries in the workplace. Soter wearables are widely used in logistics, manufacturing, healthcare and other industries, helping leading companies to prevent up to 55% of back & shoulder musculoskeletal injuries.

To see how Soter Analytics can help you improve safety behaviour, engage employees to self-manage their training and prevent workplace ergonomic injuries, simply Book a FREE Demo today.

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