April 28 is recognized by the United Nations as the World Day for Safety and Health at Work, but you and I know this is something we must prioritize every day. There are regulatory requirements and legal liabilities, of course, but also social, ethical and operational standards. It’s just best practice – and good business – to put safety first. Plus, in this age of social media, people are paying attention to workplace conditions and making decisions about where they apply for jobs based on what they hear. Those taking measures to protect employees’ well-being are being lauded while those who don’t are being publicly scrutinized.
So, I invited Mark Jolley, the EMEA Sales Director for Location Solutions at Zebra Technologies, onto the latest episode of the Your Edge Podcast to talk about technology’s role in workplace safety. Prior to this role, Mark served as the Solutions Sales Team lead in EMEA focused on Manufacturing, Transportation and Logistics. During this time, he worked with some of the region’s largest post and parcel companies to implement location solutions with the goal of improving workplace efficiency and safety, among other objectives. He is well-versed on the best practices in this area and has some unique experiences using radio frequency identification (RFID) technology and real-time location systems to help improve safety practices.
I asked him to talk about how location technology specifically is used today to support compliance with health and safety measures and how it could be used in new ways to help reduce the risk of incidents. In our 20-minute discussion, we cover quite a lot, including:
[1:47-3:37] Safety considerations in more industrial workplaces, including factories and warehouses. He calls out some of the biggest safety hazards today – not all of which may be so obvious.
[3:37- 6:47] The many ways location technologies such as RFID or Bluetooth Low Energy solutions can be used to help identify the location of people and machines moving about facilities. Mark says this is actually one of the biggest use cases right now for location technologies in work sites ranging from factories, oil rigs, and nuclear facilities, to hospitals and traditional office buildings where it may be necessary to activate a quick incident response or find people in an emergency. He gives some very interesting real-life examples of the tech in action today. (*See what Gartner® says about it, too.)
[6:49-9:09] The ways in which NFL player tracking compares to RFID-based track and trace applications in warehouses, factories and other industrial and field service environments. Mark discusses how the durability of RFID tags varies in these environments and the design of tags intended for environments with strict health and safety standards.
[9:09-14:28] The importance of tool tracking has in the context of worker safety – and, in some cases, customer/patient safety. For example, Mark explains how an RFID tag can be used to confirm a tool or machine operator is properly trained to use it – or to confirm proper tool sanitation after surgery. He also explains how other types of technology can be used to monitor employees who might be working alone at a job site or in proximity to machinery.
[14:28-15:36] Ways to use technology for access control. This is increasingly important for both physical safety and privacy purposes. Areas can be restricted for all sorts of reasons.
[15:36-16:56] The way that technology is used to track and trace workers entering Hazardous Locations. The protocol when explosive materials are present will be more focused on access control, Mark notes.
[16:56-18:37] Why you shouldn’t invest in technology without considering if operational changes are also warranted, especially when workplace safety is a priority.