2017 NWCDC

The Promise of Wearable Tech

Safety, claims management and production should all benefit.
By: | December 7, 2017 • 2 min read

Wearable tech is not just for fitness enthusiasts anymore. The same smart technology that tracks your steps now has workplace applications in safety promotion, claims management, production and efficiency, and return to work.

Presenters on the topic at the National Workers’ Compensation and Disability Conference & Expo in Las Vegas on Wednesday said the small devices are being used to collect real-time data on how employees move their bodies while doing their job tasks. That data is then analyzed to identify what’s working and what’s not and then guide evidence-based decision-making in the design of workplace functioning. The potential outcome is something to get excited about: improved worker safety and reduced workers’ compensation costs.

Thomas Ryan, senior principal, Willis Towers Watson

Wearable tech provides many opportunities to improve employee safety said Thomas Ryan, senior principal, integrated casualty consulting at Willis Towers Watson.

For example, tech worn by fire fighters can alert them to dehydration and fatigue and construction workers are alerted to danger by sensors on their hard hats.

Communication is critical when implementing a wearable tech program. A common misconception, especially among employees, is that tech is used to spy on employees said Michael Skorup, Sales Consultant at dorsaVi. In reality, the focus is on developing practices that improve employee safety and consequently save employers money.

“You need to put employees front and center in a wearable tech program,” said Skorup. “If you are transparent and take the time to show them the safety advantages you can earn their buy in.”

He noted that by clearly showing the impact on worker safety he’s even had success in union shops which traditionally can be more difficult to navigate.

“You need to put employees front and center in a wearable tech program. If you are transparent and take the time to show them the safety advantages you can earn their buy in.” — Michael Skorup, sales consultant, dorsaVi

As with any new technology, wearable technology can present challenges. For example, legal issues and HIPPA compliance are often without precedent and require strong collaboration among many departments within a company.

But a thoughtful wearable tech program has great potential to protect people and the bottom line, so knowing that, companies are wise to consider it. &

Mercedes Ott is managing editor of Risk & Insurance. She can be reached at [email protected]

More from Risk & Insurance

More from Risk & Insurance

2018 Risk All Stars

Stop Mitigating Risk. Start Conquering It Like These 2018 Risk All Stars

The concept of risk mastery and ownership, as displayed by the 2018 Risk All Stars, includes not simply seeking to control outcomes but taking full responsibility for them.
By: | September 14, 2018 • 3 min read

People talk a lot about how risk managers can get a seat at the table. The discussion implies that the risk manager is an outsider, striving to get the ear or the attention of an insider, the CEO or CFO.


But there are risk managers who go about things in a different way. And the 2018 Risk All Stars are prime examples of that.

These risk managers put in gear their passion, creativity and perseverance to become masters of a situation, pushing aside any notion that they are anything other than key players.

Goodyear’s Craig Melnick had only been with the global tire maker a few months when Hurricane Harvey dumped a record amount of rainfall on Houston.

Brilliant communication between Melnick and his new teammates gave him timely and valuable updates on the condition of manufacturing locations. Melnick remained in Akron, mastering the situation by moving inventory out of the storm’s path and making sure remediation crews were lined up ahead of time to give Goodyear its best leg up once the storm passed and the flood waters receded.

Goodyear’s resiliency in the face of the storm gave it credibility when it went to the insurance markets later that year for renewals. And here is where we hear a key phrase, produced by Kevin Garvey, one of Goodyear’s brokers at Aon.

“The markets always appreciate a risk manager who demonstrates ownership,” Garvey said, in what may be something of an understatement.

These risk managers put in gear their passion, creativity and perseverance to become masters of a situation, pushing aside any notion that they are anything other than key players.

Dianne Howard, a 2018 Risk All Star and the director of benefits and risk management for the Palm Beach County School District, achieved ownership of $50 million in property storm exposures for the district.

With FEMA saying it wouldn’t pay again for district storm losses it had already paid for, Howard went to the London markets and was successful in getting coverage. She also hammered out a deal in London that would partially reimburse the district if it suffered a mass shooting and needed to demolish a building, like what happened at Sandy Hook in Connecticut.

2018 Risk All Star Jim Cunningham was well-versed enough to know what traditional risk management theories would say when hospitality workers were suffering too many kitchen cuts. “Put a cut-prevention plan in place,” is the traditional wisdom.

But Cunningham, the vice president of risk management for the gaming company Pinnacle Entertainment, wasn’t satisfied with what looked to him like a Band-Aid approach.


Instead, he used predictive analytics, depending on his own team to assemble company-specific data, to determine which safety measures should be used company wide. The result? Claims frequency at the company dropped 60 percent in the first year of his program.

Alumine Bellone, a 2018 Risk All Star and the vice president of risk management for Ardent Health Services, faced an overwhelming task: Create a uniform risk management program when her hospital group grew from 14 hospitals in three states to 31 hospitals in seven.

Bellone owned the situation by visiting each facility right before the acquisition and again right after, to make sure each caregiving population was ready to integrate into a standardized risk management system.

After consolidating insurance policies, Bellone achieved $893,000 in synergies.

In each of these cases, and in more on the following pages, we see examples of risk managers who weren’t just knocking on the door; they were owning the room. &


Risk All Stars stand out from their peers by overcoming challenges through exceptional problem solving, creativity, clarity of vision and passion.

See the complete list of 2018 Risk All Stars.

Dan Reynolds is editor-in-chief of Risk & Insurance. He can be reached at [email protected]