How Many Billions Can Wearable Tech Save Small Businesses?

In 2013 American businesses suffered $62 billion in workplace losses due to injuries and accidents, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. We’d imagine that seven years later that number is fast approaching $100 billion. For many situations, the average cost of a worker’s comp claim is $40,000 according to the National Safety Council. And the leading cause of serious or disabling workplace injuries is overexertion.

Imagine the toll worker’s comp takes on large and small businesses in terms of coverage, payments, and overall loss of productivity. So in this context, it’s no surprise that New York-based wearable device startup Kinetic has garnered $11.3 million in new equity and debt funding. The company makes a wearable device designed to prevent workers from activity that may lead to injury.

Kinetic notes in its press release about the new raise that some 5,250 U.S. workers died from work-related injuries in 2018. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data also shows that workers across different occupations face multiple injury risks. These include lifting heavy items, bending, reaching overhead, pushing and pulling heavy loads, working in awkward body postures, and performing repetitive tasks. 

Fewer Injuries, Lower Costs

Kinetic was founded in 2014 to reduce the onsite workplace accidents that drive the workman’s compensation industry. A small decrease in the volume and severity of workplace injuries could have a substantial impact on companies’ ability to minimize its insurance and out of pocket costs. C0-founders Haytham Elhawary and Aditya Bansal launched their first product to solve the injury problem in 2016 under the product brand of Reflex.

Kinetic designed its device to sense injury-causing activities. It uses algorithms to detect motions that can signal bending, overreaching and twisting. Users fasten the company’s Bluetooth-enabled device to their waistbands. As the device collects signals it can begin to learn the inappropriate or risky movements for the individual. An employee gets daily and weekly breakdowns of activity. Think Fitbit or Apple Watch.  Meanwhile, employers can see data by job type or individual. Perhaps Sally’s data shows a pattern of overreaching that she can address before her back goes out. Or workers on a production line are signaling similar twisting moves that could compromise their health, Not to mention their productivity. 

The COVID Angle

Kinetic has adapted its device to monitor social distancing during the pandemic. It does this through a new data collection signal that determines if workers are keeping enough distance between them in the workplace. Apparently, the company determined the belt the best place to collect data without interfering with a worker’s mobility. 

Kinetic says tens of thousands of workers have worn the Reflex device at facilities around the world. For example, Kinetic lists document storage company Iron Mountain among its customers.

We see opportunities for injury management when we evaluate this device through the eyes of a small business owner. Home services businesses, in particular, stand out. And, as we have often written here, small businesses struggle to find and keep well-trained technicians. Keeping them safe and on the job as long as possible is worth a lot of money. We’ll follow Kinetic to see if it succeeds in its mission to get its device into the hands of millions of small businesses. As with all things, time will tell. 

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