A Sustainable Workforce Starts With You

Insurance Company Launches Program to Track Workers’ Movements

Construction workers across America may soon be wearing devices in their vests that record their every movement. The Wall Street Journal reports that AIG, the insurance giant, has invested an “undisclosed sum in a maker of wearable devices designed to monitor the movements of employees in factories, on construction sites and at other hazardous workplaces.”

The idea, they say, is to reduce on-the-job injuries and therefore cut down on the cost of insuring those workers:

“AIG’s investment is part of a broader push by insurers, brokers and other companies in the nearly $90 billion workers-compensation industry to use sophisticated data analysis to cut costs and boost profits.

Efforts to monitor workers’ movements for insurance purposes are in their infancy and could take time to put into practice, industry experts say. One concern is that the technology might give employers and insurers access to detailed information about individuals’ behavior and health and that employees will have to be persuaded that the safety benefits are worth it.”

This is primarily a preventative move, which many construction firms might be likely to embrace:

“Peter E. Raymond, chief executive of Human Condition Safety, said the goal is figuring out what happens ‘the moment before someone gets injured,’ so that training programs or other steps could be taken to avoid another such injury.

Mr. Raymond said he expects pilot projects to run for about a year before sensors come into use in workers-compensation insurance programs.

But this new monitoring raises serious privacy questions. The insurer making the investment said it isn’t taking those questions lightly:

“AIG said in a statement that it ‘takes the privacy of our clients and their employees very seriously. And we consider the protection of data one of our highest priorities.’ It said its focus is on aggregating data ‘to help make work sites safer for all employees.’”

You can read the full Wall Street Journal article here (subscription required).