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Inside Innovation: New tech can keep employees safe everywhere

John Bleasby
Inside Innovation: New tech can keep employees safe everywhere

Employees need to be protected in three distinct ways: from each other, from jobsite dangers, and from themselves. Each is unique and can be addressed with market-ready technology solutions. Beyond the importance of employee personal well-being and safety, leveraging the latest monitoring technologies is also another way to increase productivity and build team confidence.

Physical or sexual intimidation at work is a very serious matter. In the extreme, using one’s authority or power over another can have serious professional and personal consequences. The recent case of disgraced Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein is at the top end of the scale — he was ultimately sent to prison.

However, intimidation can be at a lower level not even recognized by the perpetrator. A veteran councillor in a small Ontario municipality was recently found guilty of breaching his city’s code of conduct by attempting to use his position to pressure a female bylaw officer to revoke a $300 parking ticket issued to a business customer. The integrity commissioner’s report said the councillor was witnessed, “raising his voice, intimidating her and making her feel uncomfortable when he patted her shoulders.” The councillor clearly didn’t realize how much employer-employee dynamics have changed over the past decade. He reportedly, “bristled at the ‘intimidation’ allegation saying, ‘I’ve been in public life for 50 years and I’ve never had a complaint like this in my life.’ ”

However, not all incidents are witnessed. Complaint procedures can be complex and difficult. Many companies are therefore turning to video cameras to monitor and discourage inappropriate behaviour of all sorts. However, reviewing hours of footage can be time-consuming.

Vaion, a security technology company with offices in the U.K., U.S.A. and Norway, says its technology can assess huge amounts of data and make distinctions between normal and aberrant behaviour. “We have the technology to help reduce days’ worth of effort in video review and case management down to seconds to eliminate the cost and time it takes to investigate an incident,” says spokesman Adam Marlin.

On jobsites, workers need protection from physical risks. Sensera Systems, a Colorado-based developer of construction monitoring solutions, says that capturing visual documentation of day-to-day site activity, incidents and near misses, as well as conducting real-time site monitoring enables managers to quickly assess compliance with safety requirements. Sensera’s integrated solar/wireless/LTE/cloud solutions can also monitor workers, equipment and materials in transit in order to identify other potential safety issues. Theft and site security can be enhanced with 24/7 motion-activated event alerts that can be sent to email accounts and mobile devices, including video clips.

For workers travelling offsite in company vehicles, the largest risk to safety is their own personal behaviour, specifically distracted driving. According to the U.S. National Safety Council, distracted driving is the cause of 40 per cent of all workplace fatalities involving transportation. Furthermore, a recent Harris Poll indicates that 38 per cent of employees talk on the phone while driving, 10 per cent use email, and 17 per cent text.

Many companies attempt to address distracted driving, including the operation of machinery on site, through policy initiatives. However, compliance is difficult to confirm. In response, technology developer TRUCETM has introduced customizable software based on Contextual Mobile Device Management software (CMDM). “CMDM software readily integrates with a company’s IT ecosystem and core technologies and resides on an employee’s mobile device,” the company says. “CMDM is not about controlling end user devices, but rather enabling employees to access particular apps at the right time in the right place. This takes the guesswork out of mobile device policy compliance. Employees know when the CMDM app is active because it is visible, and emergency services and contacts are always available. The software can be configured to fit the requirements of a specific workforce and company policy.”

Given the liability risks surrounding employee safety, there is now more reason than ever to consider these latest advances in technology.


John Bleasby is a Coldwater, Ont. based freelance writer. Send comments and Inside Innovation column ideas to

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