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Illustration by iStock, Security Management

Companies Are Slow to Deploy Workplace Safety Technology

A new report from the U.S. National Safety Council (NSC) examines technologies that companies can deploy to try create a safer work environment, and determined that adoption of beneficial technologies is low. Comparing the 2023 survey to the 2020 survey, the three technologies that saw an uptick in use were risk management software, drones, and proximity detectors. Use of other technologies in the study were mostly unchanged from 2020 to 2023.

Technology In Use



Risk management software



Worker impairment detection



Extended reality (AR/VR)



Aggressive behavior detection



Proximity sensors



Wearables to track worker health






Wearable gas sensors







A panel of safety professionals and other experts that added context to the study’s findings described “their experience with [safety technology] firsthand and noted there is increased use of technology in [their] personal lives (e.g., extended reality, drones, vital signs monitors), and many employees are open, and even eager, to use these solutions at work,” the report explained.

The study included responses from more than 500 company executives representing different companies and more than 1,000 workers.

The technologies were selected for the 2020 study specifically to address the most common causes of workplace injuries—with fatigue, lack of proper training, lack of workplace awareness, heavy equipment operation, and thermal stress topping the list—as well as the areas of most concern from employers—a list topped by work mental, physical, and emotional health; minor injuries, such as sprains or strains; fatigue in the workplace; lack of worker compliance with safety procedures; and serious employee injury. Those issues rose to top of both studies, the only exception is that “employee illness,” predictably, was at the top of the 2020 list but had fallen to the middle of the pack in the second survey.

Another recent NSC study showed that “workers of color face more work-related injuries and illnesses” than their peers.

The study also gauged how applicable the various safety technologies were, with survey participants asked if the technology is relevant to their organization. Comparing the technologies that participants said were applicable to the technologies actually in use, the largest gaps were: worker impairment detection (92 percent said it was applicable and 19 percent said it was in use, meaning a difference of 73 percent), extended reality (AR/VR) (difference of 71 percent), aggressive behavior detection (difference of 71 percent), and wearables to track worker health (difference of 69 percent).

The survey also asked if participants were considering implementing the various technologies, and it is these findings that show interest in safety technology is growing. Overall, those reporting familiarity with a range of safety technology increased from 20 percent in 2020 to 31 percent in 2023. Overall, in the survey of employees, 83 percent either agreed or strongly agreed that they were open to trying and using new safety technologies in the workplace.

Of the technologies studied, those with the highest increase in companies considering deployment were proximity sensors (14 percent more in 2023 than 2020), robots (11 percent), wearable vital signs monitoring (10 percent), and aggressive behavior detection (9 percent).

The top three reasons cited why companies do not deploy safety technology they deem beneficial were cost (44 percent), employee compliance (35 percent), and lack of time to investigate or test technologies (35 percent). The primary driving factor to implementing new safety technology was current technology or solutions no longer meeting their company’s needs. However, complacency continues to be a major obstacle: “Despite employees’ general willingness and openness to trying new technologies, 46 percent reported they did not want to change the safety equipment they were currently using,” the report said, “and 41 percent reported current safety equipment and technology meets their needs so there is no need for new adoption.”