How can connected LED lighting boost industry safety?

As health and wellbeing strides to the top of workplace strategy, business managers are looking to smart solutions and data-driven capabilities to reduce injuries and improve workplace safety in the future

Roughly 4.6 million on-the-job injuries occur each year in the United States. These injuries alone generate a total of $170.8 billion USD direct and indirect costs for a range of stakeholders, according to a 2018 study by the Illinois-based National Safety Council (NSC). Those costs included productivity and wage losses, medical and administrative expenses, and other liabilities such as fire and vehicle damage costs.

Industrial employers, who are on the front lines of the fight against workplace injury, have direct financial and moral interests in cutting down on it. And in fact investing in safety measures generates impressive return on investments: from two to six dollars for every dollar spent, according to the NSC.

How to combat workplace injury

A number of established methods exist to reduce workplace injury, from educating workers and financially rewarding smart safety behaviour, to furnishing workers with the right personal protective equipment.

Technology can also play a role – including digital and connected lighting technology. That doesn’t mean LED lighting alone, as important as it can be. It also means the smart lighting applications that go far beyond LED tech to function as platforms for the connected, data-generating, sensor-based technologies known collectively as the Internet of Things (IoT).

‘Office managers can program light recipes that promote healthy circadian rhythms among workers…’

In the future, industry workplace designers might look to adapt recent advancements that have been made in human-centric lighting for office spaces. Human-centric lighting not only maximizes vision but also supports effectiveness, health, comfort, and general wellbeing. Traditional lighting can itself be ‘human-centric,’ but LED makes it that much more effective and easy to deploy. Office workspace managers can program an LED lighting system so that it emits higher levels of the blue light that promotes alertness and wakefulness. They can run evidence-based light ‘recipes’ that promote healthy circadian rhythms among workers, with the interior light spectrum transitioning throughout the day. In this way, human-centric lighting may promote better sleep patterns among workers, rendering them more alert when they’re on the job and happier in general.

No lighting system can foster safety if it fails to work, leaving employees in the dark. LED lighting improves on what used to be the status quo. Some LED light sources can last 50 times longer than incandescent lamps do. An LED luminaire that lights a dark corner for 11 years is by definition ‘safer’ than a traditional lamp that illuminates it for a mere two, because it involves less downtime. It pays safety dividends, too, by requiring fewer worker trips up ladders to change it.

Connected lighting systems

Smart LED lighting platforms, which serve not only to light up spaces but also to deploy sensor-driven IoT technology, can cut down or even eliminate system downtime. Thousands of sensors embedded in a smart system can feed back to managers data that can help them assess which lamps, luminaires, or other components are set to fail. A smart system essentially monitors itself and issues warnings about its own condition, expediting replacement and repair before workers are left in the dark. Reactive maintenance will soon be a thing of the past.

With pandemic diseases on everyone’s minds, responsible employers need reliable methods to ensure that employees are maintaining proper distancing on the job. Motion and occupancy sensors may have a role to play here. But health isn’t the only thing at risk in the Covid-19 era: so is the integrity of supply chains and of industrial processes in general. For the foreseeable future, a newly vulnerable industrial complex will have every incentive to make sure that disruptions are kept to a minimum. The industrial IoT, delivered via lighting systems, can play a key role in meeting that challenge.

Interact Industry IoT lighting software and systems afford the distributed connectivity that smart applications, like many of those described above, require. Advanced data-driven application such as human-centric lighting and asset tracking are still in development, but Interact Industry offers many applications today that can make an industrial facility a safer, better place to work—including scene management, lighting and lighting asset management, and space management.

Signify is a Global Partner of WORKTECH Academy. The article was written by Ton van de Wiel. He is the global segment lead for industrial end-users within Signify and co-founder of Interact. With over twenty years of business experience, he now works to shape tomorrow’s world of smart manufacturing and warehousing as enabled via connected lighting.
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