New technology consisting of a wearable sensor and accompanying app has been developed by Soter Analytics to measure and assess risk of musculoskeletal injuries (MSK) in resource industry workers.
The most common and costly injury to manage, these injuries are often linked to lost productivity and can result in significant compensation payments.
Minerals and Energy Research Institute of Western Australia (MRIWA) has supported Soter Analytics researchers Matthew Hart and Alex Pavlenko in developing a new technology consisting of a wearable sensor and accompanying app —known collectively as ‘SoterSpine’ solution – to try and combat this problem, it said.
The wearable sensor uses algorithms to measure patterns of movement and load bearing that contribute to potential MSK injury, according to MRIWA. The sensor warns the worker immediately if they are at increased risk of MSK injury, and coaches them on techniques to reduce risk. Soter Analytics says SoterSpine typically helps reduce hazardous movements by 30-70%.
The research, sponsored by MRIWA and iron ore miner Roy Hill, has enabled demonstration of proof of concept in a working environment. It has since seen the SoterSpine used by multiple customers within the resources sector in Australia and abroad.
MRIWA said: “The SoterSpine allows an organisation to analyse the risk profile of the entire workforce and implement the relevant health and safety processes to reduce overall risk.”
The economic impact assessment conducted by Acil Allen for MRIWA, in January 2019, indicated the productivity benefits to the Western Australia iron ore industry from the SoterSpine solution has the potential to save the iron ore industry A$26.6 million ($18 million) over a 10-year period or A$2.7 million/y.
“These benefits could be achieved in any industry where there is risk of MSK injury,” MRIWA said.
In launching the Acil Allen report, MRIWA CEO, Nicole Roocke, said: “The SoterSpine technology provides an organisation valuable insight into the risk profile of their entire workforce, allowing them to continuously improve their health and safety mechanisms and protect their workers from injury.”
She added: “Although trialled in the iron ore industry, it is expected that this technology will be applicable to the wider Western Australian resource industries.”
Soter’s Matthew Hart said: “The SoterSpine solution has now been on the market for more than 12-months and is being used by multiple clients within the resources sector, both in Western Australia and across the country.”
Hart said it is also being used by more than 5,000 workers across more than 20 companies in the US, the UK, and in Australia in industries such as logistics, airlines, retail, and construction.
“We are particularly excited to see how the support of this innovation has led to all these workers across the world reducing their own risk of injury through our training process,” he said.
The app ‘SoterSpine’ is currently available on the Google Play store for android devices and on the App Store for iOS.