Let's Make Zero a Reality

Technology offers solutions that can save lives at work.

Emily Whitcomb
March 15, 2021

Zero. Many view it as an aspirational number when it comes to workplace fatalities, as something we’ll likely never achieve. Yet, it is the only number we should be willing to accept. The sad reality is that even with all the great strides in workplace safety over the last century, work-related deaths in the U.S. have reached their highest levels since 2007. Thousands of families are losing loved ones due to workplace incidents each year. It is for these families that we must push harder and reach farther to eliminate all workplace death. This will require taking new approaches to workplace safety.

At the National Safety Council, we believe technology will play a large role in the solution, and that is the focus of our Work to Zero initiative. In a recent national survey, we found that one of the biggest barriers for employers adopting technologies for the purpose of workplace safety is a limited knowledge of what technology currently exists. 

That’s where Work to Zero comes in. We have tapped our unparalleled network of safety leaders, done the research, scanned the current technology landscape and launched a new website highlighting the top non-roadway hazardous situations where workers are most likely to die. We have also created a tool that identifies the relevant safety technologies according to the specific hazardous situations. 

Just last month, Work to Zero hosted its second annual Summit to discuss the intersection of safety and emerging technology. Some of the highlights from the presentations included a panel on developing the workforce of the future, and panel discussions on the use of select technology to solve for specific hazards at well-known companies. Attendees also heard about a pilot program to evaluate safety technology using case stories from a small recycling and salvage company that piloted and implemented a tech solution to ensure workers are fit for duty.  

Work to Zero has recently released four free reports on featured technologies that have been increasing in popularity and availability, as effective ways to reduce top workplace risks. These include drones for working at heights and confined space inspections, wearables for fatigue monitoring, proximity sensors to avoid equipment strikes, and virtual and augmented reality for enhanced safety training. 

You also won’t want to miss our ongoing free webinar series on immersive technology taking place throughout the entire month of March. 

While innovation can be intimidating, these are exciting times with the potential to make a huge difference when it comes to workplace safety. Many companies are already doing the seemingly impossible when it comes to technology and saving lives. Working together we can change the perception of zero being an aspirational number and instead make zero workplace fatalities a reality. 

Emily Whitcomb

Emily Whitcomb is director innovation at the National Safety Council.

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