NSC Hosts Second Annual Safety Innovation Challenge

Leading-edge companies from around the world convened to present new solutions for most common workplace injury.

October 25, 2023

NEW ORLEANS – Continuing its commitment to safety innovation, the National Safety Council convened six leading technology providers from around the globe to showcase their cutting-edge safety solutions during the second annual Safety Innovation Challenge. Hosted in collaboration with Safetytech Accelerator, the challenge builds on the tremendous progress made by the Council’s MSD Solutions Lab, a groundbreaking program established in 2021 with funding from Amazon to help organizations of all sizes prevent musculoskeletal disorders, or MSDs.

“MSDs aren’t isolated to high-risk industries. They’re complex, multi-faceted injuries that can occur on any job, which is why increasing awareness of potential hazards, and how these can be addressed using next-generation technology, is a key pillar of the MSD Solutions Lab to promote safer outcomes for all,” said Paul Vincent, executive vice president of workplace practice at NSC. “The Safety Innovation Challenge represents an important step forward in this effort and one we are proud to advance by connecting employers with proven, scalable solutions aimed at mitigating the top sources of MSD injuries.”

According to the World Health Organization, MSDs are the most common workplace injury and represent the leading cause of worker disability, involuntary retirement and limitations to gainful employment. With upper-body MSDs accounting for nearly a third of all workplace MSDs, NSC teamed with Safetytech Accelerator to initially identify more than 50 companies with upper extremity-focused MSD solutions for this year’s challenge. Proposed technologies ranged from exosuits to visual analytics, and the top six innovations were selected as semi-finalists to present their cutting-edge products to more than 5,000 business leaders and safety experts at the NSC Safety Congress & Expo in New Orleans. 

The 2023 Safety Innovation Challenge semi-finalists include:

3MotionAI: Founded in 2008, the Canada-based company uses motion-sensing software to help organizations chart worker movements and develop customized recommendations and exercises to mitigate their MSD risk. The company’s biomechanics assessment may be conducted through a mobile device, allowing employers to forego costly ergonomic consultations traditionally conducted in laboratory settings.

Bioservo: The company’s IronHand glove is an exoskeleton specifically designed to reduce MSD hand injuries by enabling workers to use less grip force when performing repetitive tasks. The technology works in tandem with Bioservo’s AI-enabled platform to adapt the glove’s configurations based on the operator’s unique needs and preferences, including joint locking tendencies, sensitivity and external forces. The company is also one of the first to offer its motor-powered technology in women’s sizes.  

Feraru Dynamics: The company’s patented technology mitigates Hand-Arm-Vibration Syndrome, or HAVS, using a pre-assembled sensing and control unit to provide real-time haptics to wearers. Feraru also provides employers with an HAV-Sentry Dashboard, a secure, cloud-based platform designed to help managers visualize data, monitor grip strength and exposure trends, and compile assessment reports. 

Hilti: The Hilti EXO-S Exoskeleton builds on the company’s nearly three decades of experience developing innovative safety technologies in the construction industry to address one of the most common limitations workers across a range of sectors cite with traditional exosuits: wearer comfort. In addition to being the lightest exosuit on the market, the Hilti EXO-S’ passive, motor-free design provides employees with dynamic support to alleviate shoulder and arm strain during overhead work. 

LifeBooster: The Canada-based company integrates Internet-of-Things technology into straps and pocketed shirts, which are designed to be worn as a comfortable, breathable base layer, or clipped onto workers’ existing work attire. In addition to seamlessly aggregating data on worker posture, muscle strain, upper-body movements, and environmental factors affecting MSD risk, such as relative humidity, LifeBooster’s technology helps employers quantify the impacts of safety interventions on workers’ wellbeing and organizations’ bottom line. 

Reactec: Based in the United Kingdom, the company’s R-Link smart watch protects workers from HAV exposure by alerting the wearer when their personalized exposure thresholds have been exceeded. The watch’s unique haptic system was also thoughtfully adapted to notify workers with vision and hearing impairments.  

“The 3motionAI 3DNeuroNet Engine revolutionizes human motion performance insights with proven applications in risk management, swiftly identifying risks and preventing injuries. Our groundbreaking tool provides tailored human motion insights, demonstrating the transformative potential of AI in achieving safer outcomes,” said Reed Hanoun, founder and CEO, 3MotionAI. “Events like the Safety Innovation Challenge are crucial to democratizing knowledge and access to safety technology like ours, and we are proud to participate in this year’s challenge to be part of the solution in addressing upper-extremity MSDs.”

“Last year’s inaugural challenge focused specifically on uncovering solutions to MSDs caused by manual material handling, and the positive feedback we received from the safety community following the event was overwhelming,” said Nadia Echchihab, Head of Innovation programs, Safetytech Accelerator. “However, injury prevention is not a one-size-fits-all approach. This year’s finalists, who represent among the best in safety innovation, understand the nuances that today’s employers face in minimizing MSD risk, while delivering cutting-edge products that are both impactful and practical for modern workplaces.”

During the 2023 NSC Safety Congress & Expo, each semi-finalist had an opportunity to showcase their unique products to reducing the risk of injury associated with HAVS, repetitive upper body movements, or overhead work at the Safety Technology Pavilion. At the pavilion, attendees voted on their favorite technology and the top three, including Feraru, 3MotionAI and Bioservo, were selected as finalists to present live during the conference’s closing keynote session in front of judges from major global organizations and ergonomics experts. Several of these solutions will also have the opportunity to be piloted by the nation’s leading employers. 

“Innovation and collaboration drive safety forward,” said Carla Gunnin, director of Global Governance and External Affairs for workplace health and safety at Amazon. “This is precisely what the National Safety Council annual Safety Innovation Challenge is all about, and we are honored to support their ongoing work to convene the industry’s brightest minds and best resources to help organizations implement solutions, assess data and measure progress.”

The Safety Innovation Challenge is one of several initiatives led by the National Safety Council to achieve its goal of preventing MSDs before they start. To learn more about these efforts, visit nsc.org/msd.

About the National Safety Council
The National Safety Council is America’s leading nonprofit safety advocate – and has been for 110 years. As a mission-based organization, we work to eliminate the leading causes of preventable death and injury, focusing our efforts on the workplace and roadways. We create a culture of safety to not only keep people safer at work, but also beyond the workplace so they can live their fullest lives.

About Safetytech Accelerator
Safetytech Accelerator, established by Lloyd’s Register, is the first fully dedicated technology accelerator focused on advancing innovation in safety critical industries, with a mission to make the world safer, more resilient, and more sustainable through wider adoption of technology.

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