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Workplace wearable tech pants track safety and health for tradespeople

Why it matters to you

The day could come soon when your pants are smarter about your health than you are -- and keep you safe on the job.

If you’re going to wear clothes anyway, you might as well put them to work. Sweden-based Snickers Workwear, a major on-the-job clothing supplier in Europe has started testing workplace wearables that monitor health and safety factors, according to Torque-Expo.

Snickers’s product line already includes clothing and protective accessories to prevent knee injuries, but the wearable takes the next step with real-time monitoring. The company’s Tracker I microprocessor prototype is being used in tests in five countries by 100 workers. The chip fits in a pocket on the Snickers’ Work Trousers and reports workplace noise levels, heat conditions, and knee impact while the tradesperson is working. The data from the Tracker I chip transmits to the wearer’s smartphone.

More: Is that a charger in your pants? BauBax’s smart clothing juices up gadgets wirelessly

Snickers is a division of Hultafors Group. David Clark, a managing director with Hultafors, pointed out the need for clothing that took an active role in workplace safety. Clark referred to a survey in Scandinavia that revealed a majority of professional tradespeople didn’t use health and safety equipment correctly and cut corners at work.

“The study shows that six out of 10 craftsmen are suffering from pain in their knees,” Clark told Torque-Expo. “So we see that there is definitely room for improving their well-being beyond just knee protection — and our Smart Workwear is one way. We are well known for our KneeGuard System, 37.5 Fabric Technology, and technical functionality, but the integration of ‘smart’ wearable technology into our clothing shows the extent to which we are looking at working clothes and well-being on site in a completely new way.”

Snickers’ focus is to use smart workwear to improve workers’ health. The concept of clothing reporting to you while you work can also be interpreted as reporting on you, beyond your own phone to a wider network. Like any new technology, some resistance is likely at first. If workplace comfort, health, and safety can demonstrably be improved with the use of smart clothing that doesn’t make people carry and keep track of additional devices, the long-term benefits could quickly override initial pushback.