Innovations for Workplace Safety

General Motors has created a workplace safety system and is willing to share it.

The timing is perfect with schools about three weeks from re-opening across the country and state mandates on workplace closures lifting in some areas. The new technologies include an automated kiosk for body temperature scanning, software for COVID-19 contact tracing, and a mobile app for touchless printing.

“We developed an extensive playbook for a safe return to work for our employees, and we’re seeing very good success,” said Dr. Jeffery Hess, GM medical director. “As we implemented the protocols, GM software developers started to work on how technology could make the process smoother and more precise.”

GM’s says that its in-house software developers innovated solutions aimed at helping employees return to work with more confidence, streamlining and improving workplace safety protocols.

“We had to respond quickly to the challenges the COVID-19 pandemic created for our workforce,” said Randy Mott, GM executive vice president and chief information officer. “Our teams collaborated online with experts around the world to quickly innovate and support the safe return of our employees to the workplace. We know many of these challenges affect others globally. We felt it important to share our innovation so other companies, organizations and institutions could benefit from our experience.”

Here is a deeper dive into the three main safety technologies GM has created:

Thermal Scanning Kiosk

In many shared spaces such as schools and businesses, safety protocols call for an entry process that includes a temperature evaluation, normally administered by another worker. GM developed a new technology that integrates the operation of an infrared thermal camera with a computer and monitor, automating the process.

Workplace Contact Tracing

Contact tracing is now mandated by many state governments. Software developers worldwide are racing to improve contact tracing. GM made meaningful improvements to Covid Watch, an open-source contact tracing application, by adding real-time social distance alerts, boosting performance on both iOS and Android devices and adding support for Bluetooth beacons. GM will offer its open-source software toothers, helping developers worldwide who are collaborating on open-source solutions to aid contact tracing.

“We believe our application advances the state of the art when it comes to mobile apps for contact tracing, which is the subject of massive software development efforts across multiple industries today,” said Tony Bolton, GM chief information officer of Global Telecommunications and End-User Services.

Touchless Print

GM’s new Touchless Print mobile app enables employees to print documents without touching the printer’s control panel, leveraging instead a QR code scanned through the employee’s mobile phone. The process is safer, quicker, and extremely simple.

“Touchless printing is a first step, as the team is also working on using technology to make other daily activities more hands-free,” Bolton said.

These innovations are just the latest in a series of pandemic-response actions from General Motors, which include production of critical care ventilators and personal protective equipment such as masks, face shields and N95 respirators.