Wearable Technologies and Massage Create a Healthier and Safer Workplace

Wearable Technologies and Massage Create a Healthier and Safer Workplace


Wearable device to monitor employees’ posture

Exoskeleton suits in use at the CNH Industrial Pennsylvania site

ART therapy for effective use on repetitive strains

Thursday, July 28, 2022 - 4:00pm

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CNH Industrial and its brands in the agricultural and construction equipment sectors considers the health and safety of its employees a high priority. But with physical jobs, strains resulting from lifting, pulling and repetitive actions on plant production lines can still occur.

Therefore, to minimize and treat such injuries, the company’s health and safety teams in North America have invested in a range of ergonomic improvements. A combination of solutions across several sites, including new wearable technologies and deep-tissue massage, is paying off, with the cost of work-related long-term strain incidents falling by 34% when compared to the previous year.


At the New Holland plant in Saskatoon, the health and safety team are using wearable devices to gather ergonomic data from employees. The project has two goals: the first is to increase self-awareness of hazardous movements; and the second is to build an accurate picture of where movements likely to cause strains are most commonly occurring and take remedial action.

“People clip the small device onto the back of their shirt and through the day it detects the movement of their spine”, explains Zoey Bourgeois, the site’s Health and Safety Specialist. “If they move in an awkward or straining position, it gives them a vibration on the back of their neck. It makes people more aware when they are in a poor ergonomic posture”.

Employees wear the device over a period of ten days and the data it produces is shown in real time on a dashboard of metrics viewed by the health and safety team.

“One of the welders found that every time he did a specific task he was getting the vibration from the device”, Zoey says. “It was starting to annoy him, so rather than standing to do the job, he grabbed a step tool and sat, and there was no vibration. We were then able to encourage the whole team to do that weld at a step tool”.

The project started towards the end of 2021 and is due to run until January 2023.


At the New Holland Pennsylvania site, the safety team are using exoskeleton suits with employees working in the logistics department to reduce the impact on their backs when they’re lifting and unpacking boxes of parts.

“It’s like having a second spine”, says Eden Blevins, Safety Specialist at the plant, “it can alleviate up to 75 pounds in weight off your spine when you’re bending and lifting”.

The discreet suits, which consist of a chest piece and two tension back straps, are fitted to a specific individual. The team estimates using the suits could have prevented three of the back strains that happened last year when employees were lifting heavy items. The same suits are being used at CNH Industrial’s plant in Racine.


The New Holland site also offers employees active release technique (ART) therapy, a type of deep-tissue massage that is particularly effective on repetitive strains.

Julie Mayer, Occupational Nurse Manager at the Grand Island (Nebraska) site, recommends affected employees for ART if the initial changes she suggests prove ineffective. Employees can then sign up for sessions with the ART practitioner, who comes to the plant weekly.

“Typically, after three sessions they are much better and don’t need to be seen again”, says Mayer, “Employees absolutely love it — I often have a waiting list”.

Click here to read the full article featured in CNH Industrial’s annual magazine on sustainability and innovation, ‘A Sustainable Year’.