Wearable tech has been making its way into the workplace as a safety measure, but I was surprised to learn about an additional use by the Amey waste team in the UK. A post in CIWM Journal outlines the company’s new test program that uses monitoring equipment, as well as cameras, on workers. The focus of the study is to look at safety and well-being.
In the first project, 28 volunteers from Amey’s waste collection services in Wolverhampton have been wearing “smart” vests that monitor their heart rate, respiration, pace, posture and stress levels. The aim of this project has been to understand how the human body copes during different tasks in the working day.
The team came out fine with heart rate, but like any job there was stress in certain situations, like putting waste trucks in reverse or working on uneven ground. I know I get stressed just watching a waste management truck pulling out of my condo’s gated parking lot, so that is understandable. However, the interesting part of this study deals with the next phase of testing.
The second trial, which is under way at Amey’s Household Waste Recycling Centre in Northamptonshire, is taking place in response to what it calls a “worrying rise in verbal abuse to our employees” – in the past year it says they have seen a 26% increase in abuse and threats of violence at its HWRCs (Household Waste Recycling Centers). The majority of these threats arise when people are told they cannot leave certain types or amounts of waste, and occasionally this even leads to our employees being assaulted, Amey says.
I know I’ve personally driven to two different recycling centers in my area and I always meet the coolest people. They are the treehuggers and people that are working on down-sizing. They are the ones that see the bales of plastic and understand why we need to consume less. So, of course I now wonder if the times that I visited were just flukes. This all starts to sound like the plight of tollbooth operators, and we know how abusive that job can be. Amey is hoping the cameras now worn by its test segment of workers will be able to ward off abuse. The devices will be able to record incidents that are useable for police reports, and hopefully remind workers that they are valued. Using cameras to monitor daily life activities is definitely becoming more prevalent. If you would like to put together your own still photo wearable, check out our learning guide on the Raspberry Pi Wearable Camera. Some 3D printing and a Raspberry Pi Zero will give you a fun project that you can wear around your neck. Take it on your next hike for an awesome photo journal.
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