Wearable Technology: What impact does it have on Workers Compensation?

NCCI examines the effect wearables have in the workplace

In today’s tech-driven world, more and more people are staying connected and tracking data via wearable devices.  This include everything from fitness trackers to smart watches and more – basically anything that is worn or carried on the body and can collect and transmit data seamlessly through a type of network connection.

wearable technology

More recently, many employers are looking at ways to incorporate the use of wearable technology in the workplace in order to improve safety, amongst other goals.

“Devices can allow companies to monitor and track activities, analyze motions, alert for hazards, and augment physical capabilities, among other things.”

Statistically, workers compensation claims have experienced a long-term decline in overall claim frequency.  From Accident Year 2011 to Accident Year 2016, claims decreased 19%, which NCCI (National Council on Compensation Insurance) attributes to improvements in robotics, automation and other safety advances.  Conversely, within this same time frame the total work comp claim severity actually increased by 13%.

NCCI digs into this contrast to learn if the disparity between frequency and severity could be related to the trends of increased use of wearable technology in the workplace.  Could this trend have a larger impact on the workers compensation system as a whole?  NCCI interviewed various stakeholders on the workers compensation industry to try and find these answers. 

“Wearable technology, as it relates to workers compensation, ranges from measuring an employee’s physical activity, posture, or location to measuring multiple workplace conditions such as movement, light, humidity, temperature, and other environmental conditions.”

When it comes to workers compensation, wearable technology is still primarily in the proof-of-concept phase, with many companies running pilot projects to test all the various possible uses. Data suggests that over time, many wearables will be able to help reduce the risk of future injury by identifying potential dangers after measuring repetitive movements like lifting, pushing or pulling. 

There’s even some evidence to suggest that wearable technology will help post-injury and return-to-work scenarios, in addition to preventative measures.  Read the full article here.

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