EHS Management, Personnel Safety, Technology and Innovation

NSC: Emerging Technologies May Mitigate Fatal Injury Hazards

A worker dies every 96 minutes in the United States, according to the National Safety Council (NSC), but the increased use of emerging technologies like risk management software, proximity sensors, and drones may help mitigate those risks. The NSC’s Work to Zero initiative announced on June 27 the release of a new report, “Safety Technology 2024: Examining Trends in Technology Solutions Used to Reduce Serious Injuries and Fatalities in the Workplace.”

In 2020, Work to Zero released an initial report identifying the most relevant workplace hazards and technologies that might mitigate those risks. It also conducted a survey of employers and employees to understand their perceptions of safety innovation in the workplace. The working group revisited its initial findings last year to better understand the changes in safety technology implementation over the previous three years. The new report examines trends in workplace hazards and safety technology implementation since 2020.

Key findings in the report include:

  • Increased exposure to risks. Both employers and employees reported an increased likelihood of exposure to all workplace risks included in the survey, such as fatigue, heavy equipment operation, and working at heights, with the most significant increases reported by employees.
  • Fatigue remains the top risk across industries. It’s the largest contributor to injuries in the workplace. While workplace violence is considered the least likely exposure, concern over violent incidents significantly increased from 2020 to 2023.
  • Enhanced technology applicability and consideration. Eighty-three percent of employees agreed they were open to trying and using new safety technologies in the workplace. Employers reported that all technologies included in the survey were relevant to hazards in their workplaces.
  • Technology use. The most notable increases in technology use reported were for risk management software, proximity sensors, and drones. The use of other technologies has remained relatively similar between surveys.
  • According to those surveyed, barriers to the widespread adoption of safety technologies include:
  • Resource constraints: Purchase costs, including initial capital and resource investments, remain an obstacle for employers.
  • Privacy concerns: Concerns about data collection, privacy issues, and security are a top worry for employers.
  • Understanding/a lack of understanding of benefits: Perceptions about current technologies and whether they can meet organizational needs can be either a key barrier or a driver toward acceptance of new safety technologies in the workplace.

The NSC’s “Work to Zero” initiative is funded by the McElhattan Foundation, which recently announced an additional $3 million grant for its work.

Cal/OSHA grants NSC’s opioid response petition

The California Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA) granted a petition from the NSC proposing a requirement for stocking opioid overdose reversal medications in California workplaces and a requirement for training in their use, the NSC announced June 28.

The nonprofit petitioned the state for the inclusion of an opioid overdose reversal medication and training requirement in California’s Code of Regulations to help the state combat the opioid crisis by ensuring worksites are appropriately ready to respond in case of an emergency.

According to the NSC, over 18% of workplace fatalities in California in 2021 were due to an unintentional overdose. The group cited data showing that overdoses account for nearly one in 10 on-the-job deaths nationally and have increased by more than 600% since 2011.

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