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Health & Safety Calor, GB 4/15/2022

Wearable devices for safer operations

Manual handling remains the second-highest cause of lost time for injury in Calor GB. In 2021, the business unit tried a fresh approach to reduce the risk of manual handling injuries by trialling a wearable device called the Sotorspine. 

Sotorspine’s technology

This technology uses AI to detect hazardous behaviour by measuring movements and forces on the body. The initial proof of concept with five users resulted in a 39% reduction in hazardous movements. A full pilot commenced in late 2021 with 30 users at three filling plants and the initial results are very promising. So far, there has been a 40% reduction in hazardous spine-related movements and a 53% reduction in hazardous shoulder-related movements.

The next steps

In 2022, the trial will be extended to the customer engineering function to ensure their movements are as safe as possible. There are many potential further applications for the technology, such as supporting colleagues returning to work after time off for musculoskeletal issues and providing data to support manual handling risk assessments.

Feedback from the field

Tim East, Cylinder Distribution Site Leader at Calor GB’s Preston site, explains, “The whole process was seamless. The wearers wore the device for a full day, and at the end of their shift, they completed a tutorial and synced the device on an app. Feedback from the wearers was largely positive. Firstly, the tutorials gave the wearers a reminder about manual handling best practice. By day five, they all decided to complete these tutorials before the start of their shifts. They were then able to use this guidance to change their behaviour and practice different techniques whilst on their deliveries.

“One driver stated that he had changed the way he strapped his vehicle after the device notified him of a hazardous movement when he picked up a strap from the floor. His feedback prompted the group to think about strap placement and to avoid any unnecessary bending movements.

A long-term impact

Tim continues, “The data mirrored the driver feedback. Overall, the hazardous movements reduced throughout the 10 days as the wearers became more aware of their behaviour and adapted their manual handling movements. This proved that the device was successful in promoting better practices and prompted more safety conversations in the cylinder distribution centre. When analysing the data with the wearer during a debrief, it also created some constructive competition, with wearers hoping to see a higher reduction of hazardous movements compared with another wearer. Certainly, this trial helped to drive the safety culture on site in a positive direction.”