How Should Companies Electronically Monitor Worker Health and Safety in the Face of Privacy Concerns?

Companies that are considering using technology to monitor workers, assets or processes for environment, health and safety purposes should understand the relationship between the Internet of Things (IoT) and information governance. Specifically, since IoT utilizes and generates reams of data, as well as connects individual devices in new ways, it inherently requires new methods of information governance and data management. In terms of scale, Statista predicts that connected devices will number over 30 billion by 2020 and over 75 billion by 2025, while the IoT market already is worth more than $1 billion USD annually.

Wearable devices (also called “wearables”) can monitor employees’ GPS locations, vital signs, time to complete tasks, working posture, and similar metrics. In the face of such data collection, workers can express concerns about being tracked and maintaining their privacy.

Verdantix has been interviewing industry professionals regarding the use of wearables within EHS management. Our research with wearable developers such as Modjoul, Reactec and Upskill has found that worker data privacy indeed is emerging as a concern concurrent with the growth in wearable devices. Device manufacturers and their customers are utilizing various techniques to address and even prevent such concerns. One approach is engaging employees and labor unions early in the implementation process to discuss how best to achieve all parties’ objectives. EHS managers also can share the list of metrics for which data will be collected and how the data will be used to enhance workplace safety.

Concurrent with the continued expansion of interconnected IoT devices in company operations and the data that they gather is the need for EHS directors to understand options for information governance techniques and their implications, especially for employee relations. We will discuss this topic and other related issues during our upcoming webinar, “The Role of Wearable Technology in Addressing Core EHS Functions”. Please register and attend on 16 August!

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