For almost half a century, MCR Safety has been on the forefront of innovative, quality PPE manufacturing. In April they took their products to the next level by partnering with us to create a new generation of smart PPE technology. This Smart PPE will take advantage of sensor technology to give workers and supervisors real-time feedback on hazards and facilitate safety communication across the entire work space.
Corvex had a chance to interview Mitch Lewellyn, CEO of MCR Safety about the challenges in safety programs today and how smart PPE will soon revolutionize worker safety.
Corvex: MCR has a long history in the safety industry and has been heavily involved in the evolution of PPE technology. How has safety improved over the past 5-10 years?
Mitch Lewellyn: We have seen significant improvement through material and technology innovations. Materials have been enhanced to enable products to be lighter, stronger and offer more protection while being less invasive on the wearer. Technology has made it faster to get products to market and more efficient to collect data.
Another improvement over the years has come in the form of employee education. Education has improved due to greater availability of online tools, resources and tutorials. You don’t have to attend a safety seminar to educate yourself as this can now be done on your laptop or mobile device.
Corvex: What do you think are the biggest challenges for safety programs currently?
ML: Communication is definitely one of the toughest challenges companies face when running a safety program, both from Leadership to the worker and from the worker to Leadership. Without this 2-way communication systems seem to grow stagnant. The carrot and stick approach are short term fixes. Leadership has to believe that safety is more than another cost center. At the heart of this is ultimately changing the culture and empowering the workers to all become safety managers.
Corvex: What helps promote worker engagement were safety is concerned?
ML: The best way to engage workers about their own safety is to get them involved and allow them to take ownership of it. Until the worker feels empowered and sees their recommendations and observations implemented they tend to remain disengaged. Thinking about safety is someone else’s responsibility. A combination of smart devices that let them both send warnings and receive warnings about potential hazards and increased communication between workers and Leadership can do a lot to engage workers.
Corvex: How does smart PPE help promote worker engagement?
ML: Smart PPE offers real-time communication to correct issues, recognize unsafe behavior immediately and give praise when warranted. It also demonstrates to the workers that their employer is willing to take the time and make the investment to eliminate workplace injuries so they can all go home to their families each night unhurt.
Corvex: What are some of the most interesting innovations in smart PPE that you’ve seen this year?
ML: Truthfully, the Corvex connected solution as a flexible and open architecture to work with many brands is one of the top smart PPE innovations I've seen this year.
Corvex: What do you think we’ll see in terms of smart PPE innovation in the next year or so?
ML: You will definitely see many companies accessing how they can gather more measurable data from the workplace and looking for answers to safety program questions in that data.
Corvex: How can safety programs take more advantage of the data being collected from smart PPE and other sensors within the workplace?
ML: First of all, it's important that companies become proactive in measuring risk before an injury occurs. Then, they need to regularly engage with their workforce by showing the data and sharing what changes have been made as a result to improve conditions, and what impact those changes have made.
Corvex: How mature are safety programs today in terms of digital transformation? How can we “move the needle” in terms of moving safety forward?
ML: Right now safety programs and digital transformation are in their infancy stage. Most companies are looking for how to start, where to start and what tools to utilize to make the digital shift.
Corvex: Five years from now, what do you think safety will look like within most organizations?
ML: There will be early adopters of wearable tech that will see immediate benefits after implementation. These will be the pioneers in what will become the norm within the next decade. In the next five years you will see others begin the process or implement a metric-based safety strategy to drive injuries lower.
Learn more about the partnership between MCR Safety and Corvex and discover MCR's PPE equipment at MCRSafety.com.