Slips, trips and falls (STFs) are the most common cause of non-fatal workplace injuries. Slips, trips and falls can happen anywhere, at any time and in any workplace. An estimated 3.8 million disabling occupational injuries are caused by slips, trips and falls each year, accounting for 12 to 15 percent of all workers’ compensation costs.

Professor Lim Chwee Teck from the Department of Biomedical Engineering at the National University of Singapore (NUS), which is part of the College of Design and Engineering, and the Institute for Health Innovation & Technology (iHealthtech), collaborated with the start-up of NUS, FlexoSense, to develop a smart insole that can track STFs in the workplace in real time.

It is the first insole of its kind that can detect a person’s balance. Businesses can pinpoint incidents and identify STF risk areas using the sockliner to implement effective mitigation strategies.

The insoles are equipped with pressure sensors that measure the foot pressure. It also consists of an inertial measurement unit sensor to measure changes in motion.

The body will initially try to maintain balance by putting pressure on the feet to break the STF when this happens. The smart insole can detect these specific variations in foot pressure and a person’s orientation to determine if an STF has occurred.

Generating balance profiles from different users, which could help evaluate worker deployment across multiple jobs, tracks such changes in foot pressure and movement caused by an STF. These measurements are then recorded in real time. The smart insole can also detect falls from height as they have different speed profiles than falls on a flat surface.

Employees can easily access data collected by the smart insole via a mobile application, and company management can do so via a dashboard. Rather than relying on employees or safety officers to manually submit reports, the digitization of STF incidents enables rapid reporting and greater transparency regarding these incidents.

The intelligent insole does more than track and report STFs; it also recognizes common activities such as walking, standing, and sitting, allowing managers to recognize potentially risky behaviors, such as when an employee should be walking instead of running, and measuring pressure point to gauge each employee’s sense of balance.

Professor Lim Chwee Teck from the National University of Singapore’s (NUS) Department of Biomedical Engineering said: “Usually slips, trips and falls go unreported. Companies can proactively mitigate these incidents by deploying this smart insole solution in the workplace. When a person slips, trips or falls, there will be unique changes in the movement and pressure distribution of the feet. Our smart insole captures the information automatically and by tracking these changes, companies can identify high-risk areas in the workplace and take timely preventive action.”

Ms. Chia Lye Peng, Chief Executive Officer of FlexoSense, said: “STFs are major cost items for most companies due to lost productivity, medical costs and administrative costs. We believe our smart insole can help reduce human and financial costs before serious accidents happen.”