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May 15, 2015

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Reducing risk in the workplace

dorsaVi is using the latest technology to reduce risk in the workplace. Zoe Wyatt explains how their new product, ViSafe helps employers keep their workforce safe.

You have just launched ViSafe to the UK market. What has it been designed to do?

dorsaVi designed ViSafe to enable employers to reduce risk in the workplace by adding objective data, and therefore confidence, to decisions about workplace practices and equipment choices. We identified a need for more comprehensive assessment of how workplace practices are linked to injuries, and our technology is perfectly placed to answer to this need. ViSafe helps to remove the guesswork and replaces subjective opinions with objective data, helping employers make decisions to benefit their employees and their bottom line.

How does ViSafe work?

ViSafe utilises dorsaVi world-first wearable sensor technology to objectively measure, record and report a person’s movement and muscle activity in real-time and in the workplace. Wearable sensors are worn by employees (usually on their lower back and shoulders) while they go about their usual day at work – it could be for a short time to capture information about one specific task, or over the course of a whole shift. ViSafe captures detailed information about movement patterns and muscle activity and from this we can understand what about a task or a usual work pattern is likely to be causing acute or chronic back/shoulder/neck problems. The data creates a new and specific type of risk profiling which then allows us to work with the employers to step through recommended changes to work practices or equipment in within a cost:benefit framework. To close the loop, we would also validate the proposed solutions to ensure that they are providing the anticipated benefits before they are implemented.

Why does the safety market need this new technology?

Using ViSafe, employers can have objective and quantitative data about practices in their own workplaces in front of them when making important decisions. It creates a robust and accurate starting point for discussions about improvements to work practices, proposed solutions to reduce injury, and future equipment purchases. Without a way to collect reliable and objective data we all rely on an ‘I reckon’ principle. We believe that we have to do better when considering issues of employee health and it doesn’t make economic sense when allocating large sums to new equipment acquisition. ViSafe is one way to remove some of this ‘I reckon’ and replace it with ‘I know’.

What clients have dorsaVi worked with and how has ViSafe helped them to resolve work-related problems?

dorsaVi has worked with leading corporations, in industries as diverse as retail and mining, to assess workplace risk and help provide evidence based decisions for improving workplace safety. A great example can be taken from an assessment that was carried out in Australia for the supermarket chain Woolworths. Woolworths came to us wanting to reduce their employees’ risk of low back injuries from manual handling tasks. Using ViSafe, we were able to help them implement a new handling system which reduced the number of forward bends on task by 87 per cent and reduced the time taken to perform the task by 21 per cent. As a result, Woolworths have observed an 85 per cent reduction in injuries 12 months after implementing the new practices. These are the kind of results we strive for and they are entirely realistic for employers to achieve, no matter how small or large the suggested changes are. Indeed, our clients are often pleasantly surprised that the proposed changes are not expensive or difficult to implement, but only hard data can provide you with the confidence that a small and low cost solution really can make all the difference.

What is the scale of the wider economic and clinical benefit of ViSafe?

Work-related musculoskeletal disorders (MSKDs) are the most common type of work-related illness, causing 8.3 million missed work days last year in the UK. That’s a staggering number, which contributes significantly to the £14 billion annual cost to society of work-related illness. If we imagine the Woolworths results on a national scale; the potential economic and clinical benefits of ViSafe could be significant. Not only can workplace safety be improved for employees, but work-related injury costs can be reduced for employers. As a result, productivity rises, which in turn benefits the economy as a whole.

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