An estimated 325 million people currently use wearable technology. The vast majority of users feel that companies creating wearables protect their privacy and that privacy is one of the most important issues with any wearable device. However, any company may hesitate to include these devices as part of its risk strategy for a number of reasons.
“The market is flooded with available options in wearable technology, and knowing how to choose the product that is best suited for an organization’s needs is no easy feat,” said Steve Simon, Senior Risk Control Manager at Safety National. “For organizations that are successful with wearable technology, they have spent considerable time developing a formal ergonomic and wearable technology program that outlines the time and financial commitments, along with evaluating the pros and cons.”
Assessing the advantages and disadvantages of wearables can help organizations know what options are suitable for their risk management program.
Advantages of Wearable Technology
- Rapid data results can help drive improvements. Having immediate data to make decisions and drive improvements may be helpful, rather than waiting for more formal or detailed assessments.
- Detailed data can supplement loss analysis and loss trends. Additional data can help identify specific trends in your claims history.
- Can help build a business case for senior management. It can be challenging to help senior management make decisions or determine if some of your funding should be spent on improvements. The data from wearable technology devices can help support your business case for that spend.
- Data from wearable sensors offers promising job risk analysis and evaluation opportunities for safety and ergonomics practitioners. Most ergonomic assessments or evaluations require additional time to observe and manually collect data. Having instant data can save time and expedite ergonomic assessments or evaluations.
- Enhance employee wellness programs. More organizations are starting to promote wellness programs for employees. Some wearable technology devices can assist with easily tracking wellness program data that could supplement or support your efforts.
Disadvantages of Wearable Technology
- Requires a time commitment to review and analyze data. A team or committee may need to review the large amount of data that is generated from the devices.
- Requires financial commitments and planning. You may need senior management or finance team approval prior to the full implementation stage. The cost of wearable technology depends on how many employees and locations are involved.
- Devices could lead to distraction. For many employees, wearing this device for an entire shift can be distracting, especially if the device has haptic feedback or vibration reminders.
- Data security and privacy could be compromised with legal, financial, and personal consequences. An information technology (IT) department will need to ensure the data generated from the devices is secured for authorized individuals and ensure proper consent is obtained from each individual whose data is being collected.
- Devices could lead to over-trust or under-trust. This could be challenging when reviewing all the data to determine realistic trends. Sometimes this results in trusting or not trusting all the reviewed data before making any decisions or improvements.
Each wearable technology vendor provides various packages and , in some cases, on-site support. The pricing is determined by how many units are needed, how many locations are served, and if on-site support is necessary to begin the pilot program or implementation. Most vendors will also have minimum order requirements, so you must verify this with the wearable technology vendor before starting the process. Organizations must review the pros and cons to determine if this is sustainable long-term.