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October 24, 2019

StrongArm Tech—an insurtech protecting against workplace injuries

Key Takeaway
Wearable technology is changing how companies optimize their workforce and how insurers monitor and understand risks.

Partner Matt Leonard recently connected with Matt Norcia, Chief Operating Officer at StrongArm Tech

Sean Petterson saw a need in the insurtech marketplace. While growing up, he experienced family members working strenuous industrial jobs and rarely receiving the necessary training and support for proper lifting mechanics.

With workplace injuries costing the United States $250 billion dollars per year, Sean founded StrongArm Technologies—a safety science company that helps employers protect vulnerable workers.

StrongArm uses the science of ergonomics. The company combines its ErgoSkeleton products with a machine learning platform that assesses the risk of musculoskeletal injuries. Insurers can then use the StrongArm FUSE data for underwriting, claims, actuarial and risk engineering.

How the technology works: The on-body sensor provides real-time haptic feedback to workers when moving improperly. Sensors also collect data on multiple ergonomic and environmental risk factors. A “safety score” is then created, which indicates the risk of musculoskeletal injury.

Last year, Time Magazine named StrongArm Tech’s Fuse Risk Management Platform one of the best inventions of 2018.

We recently caught up with Matt Norcia, the Chief Operating Officer, on what Strongarm is trying to achieve and where the company sees the technology going in the future.

OW: Who are your target customers?

Matt Norcia: We have the benefit of working with organizations that have made a commitment to improving the health and safety of their workforce. Many larger enterprises with risk management functions, including employers, insurance companies and carriers. We have more than 20,000 devices in the field right now, and several enterprise partners have a scaling strategy to put them into 10-15% of their workforces over the next few years.


 

OW: Can you give an example of a company using StrongArm?

Matt Norcia: We had a large global retailer deploy the FUSE Risk Management Platform in its grocery and regional distribution centers.

Workers (or “Industrial Athletes,” as we at StrongArm call them) at the distribution centers wear the FUSE sensors as part of their daily uniform like a ringer scanner or walkie talkie. As workers roam around the warehouse filling orders, picking, and unloading trailers, the FUSE sensors capture data about their movements and the environment. We use this data to provide real-time feedback to workers as well as managers to identify ways to better engage team members and provide objective and data driven coaching.

On a daily basis we can provide training messaging, questions, and surveys for micro-learning opportunities.

We have seen a 40% reduction in injury year-over-year (YOY) and 3 times return on investment (ROI).

COO, StrongArm Tech

 

OW: How has it mitigated injury?

The FUSE Risk Management Platform provides a scalable and holistic approach to mitigate injuries. In real time, workers directly receive haptic and visual feedback from the sensor as a “reminder” when they lift improperly or unsafely.

At the start of the day, managers receive a daily report identifying high performers using the “safety score” and can identify select workers to provide meaningful engagement and training. We have found that proper training and education followed up with simple testing and surveys also create more awareness around the safety initiative.

We have seen a 40% reduction in injury year-over-year (YOY) and 3 times return on investment (ROI).

 

OW: Of course, there’s a potential darker side to all of this—for example, keeping track of how fast an employee walks through the plant.  Issues of privacy, monitoring, etc.

Matt Norcia: Obviously that’s a concern. The worker’s info is available to them on a dashboard pre-shift. So, they have access to their own data, and we have recommendations on how to improve.  We don’t use our info for punitive ends, and we work with unions.  We consider ourselves worker forward—that’s why we talk about the “industrial athlete.” And we’re not delivering lift rate.  As a worker-first company, our goals are thinking about how productivity, safety, and efficiency are linked.

Image source: StrongArm Tech


 

OW: What are 1 or 2 lessons learned as you move into the insurance space?

Matt Norcia: Workers comp and construction insurers are on the same side as industrial safety managers and risk engineers. Both groups want to reduce injuries and keep employees healthier.

Insurers are excited by the new data captured by the FUSE Risk Management Platform, but the new data cannot be easily incorporated into their long-standing processes for underwriting, reserving, and claims. StrongArm can provide value to insurers by analyzing and aggregating the data into reports that can be used by insurers immediately.

Last year, Time Magazine named StrongArm Tech’s Fuse Risk Management Platform one of the best inventions of 2018.

 

OW: What’s the most difficult thing about moving from industrial protection into the insurance space as an insurtech?

Matt Norcia: Insurers move slower, and they look for substantial validation of the data and technology. The cost to change a process at large commercial insurers is substantial, and insurers are reluctant to make the change until there is certainty that the technology and data are effective.

Industrial customers have safety programs that are improved by the FUSE Risk Management Platform rather than replaced. The cost to change a safety program is much lower for industrial customers.

 

OW: Where do you see the StrongArm Tech going? What’s next?

Matt Norcia: The FUSE Risk Management Platform is currently capturing, analyzing and reporting on movement and environmental risk (temperature, humidity, barometric pressure, noise, and air quality) data.

In the near-term, StrongArm Tech will expand the risk analysis and correlation with the wealth of data from its sensors—and combine all these risk factors to traditional business operations metrics like productivity, staffing and finances.

We have identified ways with our data to achieve workforce optimization and continue to find new and innovative ways to help customers realize the major benefits through our data.

Outside of just the data – StrongArm is looking to help eliminate all workplace related injuries using new sensors and beacons. For example, collision avoidance technology, robotics & AGV Interface, OSHA PPE compliance, etc.

 

OW: How will it impact things in the industry for the future?

Matt Norcia: Wearable technology is changing how companies optimize their workforce and how insurers monitor and understand risks. Companies using wearables to improve worker safety will be better underwriting risks for insurers. Insurers that incorporate better exposure data from wearables into their underwriting may have lower loss ratios. Insurers that provide wearables as part of the policy may have higher retention rates.

Strongarm’s “safety score” may be used throughout the insurance value chain to improve results. The “safety score” provides workers comp underwriters with real-time exposure data and a better measure of safety culture.  Using real time assessments, risk engineering may provide more focused safety interventions.

With an increasing amount of data collected, actuaries may use the “safety score” trends to inform their reserving decisions. Detailed safety data used by claims adjuster may be used to validate injuries and prevent fraud.

 

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