Eye-Tracking Technologies Can Enhance Productivity, Safety

By on April 16, 2019

From EHSToday:One split second is all it takes for a life to be changed forever or taken away by a workplace accident. Each year, close to 9,000 people are killed on the job across the U.S. and Europe; no doubt all these workplaces had safety protocols in place, but clearly more could have been done to prevent this loss.

The first step in preventing an accident is identifying its potential to occur—and this is easier said than done. Sadly, it’s often only once an incident has happened that we realize something needs fixing. But what if you could see the potential for risk in a new way, or find answers to a problem for which a cause has been hard to pinpoint?

Foundry worker with eye tracking glasses

Eye tracking has an established track record as a reliable and objective method of measuring human attention, as a means of understanding the precursors of action, and as a method to see if a task creates too much cognitive load on a person. This information is now being increasingly utilized across multiple industries as a tool to increase productivity and improve safety. Balancing these two performance indicators has long been a catch-22, with increased productivity often associated with more risky operations, but technology has come to the rescue.

Eye Tracking: The Basics

The concept of eye tracking is quite simple: It reveals exactly where someone is focusing their attention while completing their daily activities. A pair of comfortable, discreet, worksite-ready eye tracking glasses are worn by the worker, and the system tracks every movement and fixation of the eye during this period of time. The worker’s visual behavior can be viewed live in real-time by supervisors and recorded for subsequent analysis and training.

To put it simply, this technology allows management to observe performance through the eyes of the employee without disrupting the work or creating an additional safety concern. The information collected reveals valuable insights on situational awareness, cognitive load, subconscious actions, risky behaviors and mental processing. The kinds of learnings that are available through eye tracking are nearly impossible to identify through traditional methods such as employee interviews, surveys, or walk-throughs.

But it isn’t only management that can benefit from the implementation of eye tracking in the workplace. This technology is capable of highlighting on-the-job obstacles and informing new processes that remove distractions, stress and hazards for the worker. Additionally, the video outputs from eye tracking have been shown to ease and shorten the training experience for new employees, who are able to watch the task that they will be performing through the eyes of seasoned veterans instead of reading instruction manuals.

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