Emanuele Cauda, PhD, NIOSH; John Snawder, PhD, NIOSH; Pramod Kulkarni, PhD, NIOSH
Wearable sensor technologies (wearables) are a topic of great interest for the NIOSH Center for Direct Reading and Sensor Technologies (CDRST). The CDRST is one of the NIOSH National Occupational Research Agenda (NORA)Core and Specialty Programs. Wearables are used in several applications for everyday life both at home and at work. The adoption of these technologies for occupational health, safety, and wellbeing is increasing at a gradual but consistent pace as more sensor types are incorporated existing personal monitors. For decades personal monitors have provided data and ultimately information on the workers’ exposure and safety. Personal monitors have helped workers and health & safety professionals monitor many hazards, such as gas/vapor, aerosols, noise. Wearable sensors will be smaller, less intrusive, more ergonomically suitable, capable of extended operation without maintenance, and with specifically designed features for interaction and communication with workers. Wearable sensors will provide desired monitoring capabilities combined with interconnectivity with other monitoring modules and specific data storage, transfer, and processing features. Compared to personal monitors, wearable sensors will be linked conceptually to the body of the wearer reaching what can be called the wear-and-forget functionality. Wearable sensors can be categorized in two groups based on the target measurement of the sensing device: biological and physiological activities of the wearer, or monitoring the properties of the workplace environment. The latter category is pretty similar to the concept of personal exposure monitoring carried out by personal monitors already used for industrial hygiene and health and safety. The former is completely new dimension of health monitoring for the occupational environment and much closer to the use, current and future, of wearable sensors for the general population. How wearable technology is used in occupational safety and health research and practice is evolving. Wearable sensors can also be integral to programs that promote Total Worker Heath. As wearables become more common in the workplace, there are several things to consider prior to implementing a wearables program. This poster will provide recommendations on the decision-making process to implement a wearables program in a workplace based on specific needs and outcomes. Worker acceptance, best practices, ethical considerations, available technologies and applications, and data analysis and transformation of data into useful knowledge will be covered.