The Internet of Things to Promote Health in the Workplace
Employers can promote the health of their employees by equipping them with smart clothing or watches. However, this may lead to excessive collection and storage of personal data. This project is investigating the safe use of these new technologies, and the opportunities and risks associated with them.
Chronic overwork and an unhealthy posture, often work-related, are on the rise. Companies are increasingly looking into unconventional ways to promote health; for example, by equipping their employees or workplaces with new aids such as smart clothing, watches or tools to identify potential health risks. These solutions, known as the «Internet of Things», offer employees benefits, but also present risks as they involve the collection of very personal data. Our project focuses on identifying technical, legal and ethical risks and developing recommendations for safer use of the Internet of Things in the workplace.
The Internet of Things connects the virtual world with real objects such as smart watches. Large amounts of personal data are collected in the process, and this leads to numerous questions: Where should the data be stored? Who has access to this information? What data is actually required for health promotion in the workplace? What may an employer or a service provider do with this data? Such an unclear starting position promotes fears and leads to a situation in which helpful applications are not used.
Our goal is to examine the technical, legal and ethical challenges and limitations associated with the use of the Internet of Things in the context of workplace health-promoting programmes. Among other things, we plan to analyse how the use of the Internet of Things in workplace health-promoting programmes affects the employees’ autonomy, identity and privacy. Based on our findings, we will formulate recommendations designed to help avoid the identified risks.
The recommendations developed within the framework of the project are not only intended to raise employers’ and employees’ awareness regarding the opportunities and risks of the Internet of Things, but also to provide practical suggestions that can, for example, help lessen exaggerated fears. These recommendations should also help guarantee that new technologies such as smart clothing or watches for health promotion are used in accordance with their intended use.
Internet of things for occupational health: Practical, ethical, and legal issues