I was the innovation keynote speaker this week for the St. Louis Safety Conference on the topic of safety inventions and I realized this is one of the most important industries for inventors. A great safety invention could save lives and ultimately change the world.

Inventors often spot problems that other people miss. So safety professionals are in a unique position to know what those problems are and come up with solutions for them that will solve their own problems and solve safety problems for millions of people around the world.

Many people would agree that the most important safety invention in history is the invention of sanitation. Clean water and waste removal has saved more lives than any other safety invention, and more than doubled our life expectancy.

As early as 300 BC Ancient Romans devised a system of aqueducts to provide some citizens fresh running water which was piped into homes and public fountains and baths. But the first septic tank wasn’t invented until 1860.

Today there are still hundreds of millions of people around the world who don’t even have access to clean water. But a simple solution was found in the Lifestraw, which has an advanced filter to get rid of almost all microbiological contaminants in order to make water safe to drink. It was designed to help people who don’t have access to safe water and in emergency situations when water is contaminated. The Lifestraw adapted to the limitations of the situation – we don’t have to purify ALL of the water, but just enough for a person to drink.

One of the most important safety inventions in history is the three point seatbelt, invented by Nils Bohlin. The original seatbelt was invented to keep pilots in their gliders and the first patented seat belt was invented to keep tourists safe in taxis in New York City. Race car drivers were the first to wear seat belts to protect against serious injuries.

The three-point seatbelt protects both the upper and lower body. Like many inventions, his seat belt design was both simple and effective, saving millions of lives.

The invention process is always evolving and improving, so it makes sense that the seat belt design would too. Ford is now testing an inflatable safety belt that contains an airbag which would inflate on impact.

The design of the hand saw is also changing. Many inventions go back pretty far in history and that’s how it is with the saw. Saws made of copper go back as far as 3100 BC but it’s Chinese engineer and carpenter Lu Ban who gets the credit for inventing the saw. He came from a family of carpenters, who didn’t have saws during that time period. They had to use axes to cut the wood, which was very time consuming.

The design of the saw is now evolving again. Portable band saws have always been heavy and bulky, requiring two hands to hold them steady. Lately, the size and weight of power tools has decreased because of the conversion from corded to cordless, making them capable of being held one-handed while dangerously steadying pipe in the other.

But Rosendin, the electrical contracting industry’s largest employee-owned firm, discovered that these product improvements had an unexpected safety risk to its employees. They noticed that once the natural pipe resistance was gone as it was cut through, the saw would jerk downward until the operator could remove his fingers from the blade’s single trigger. This created a risk of the saw striking the worker’s now free hand to reach across, under the moving blade, in an attempt to catch the falling piece of material, resulting in injuries to the person using it.

Rosendin set out to find a solution to this safety risk, thinking if the saw required two hands to operate, the risk to employees would be greatly reduced. With two hands operating the saw, there would be no risk that one hand could come in contact with the saw blade while it was moving.

The company reached out to professional tool maker DEWALT about creating a new design. DEWALT designed and developed a new band saw, where two separate hands are needed to push dual switches before the motor will turn on in order to operate the band saw. The clever new safety invention is built so that users cannot outsmart or overide the dual switch safety feature.

Rosendin hopes to lessen workplace injuries and they are doing their part. They are already seeing a reduction in equipment-related injuries in the workplace.

About Rosendin Electric

Rosendin Electric, headquartered in San Jose, Calif., is an employee-owned electrical contractor. With revenues upwards of $2 billion, Rosendin is one of the largest electrical contractors in the United States employing over 6,000 people. For 100 years, Rosendin has created a reputation for building quality electrical and communications installations, building value for clients, and building people within the company. For more information, visit www.rosendin.com.

About DEWALT

DEWALT is obsessed with how users work in the real world and is relentlessly pursuing total jobsite solutions. By incorporating its latest technology and industry innovations, DEWALT is leading the charge for the jobsite of the future. DEWALT products. GUARANTEED TOUGH®. For more information, visit www.dewalt.com or follow DEWALT on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn.

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Employees at work aren’t the only ones who could benefit from new safety inventions. Every year almost 10,000 children under the age of 2 are treated in the emergency room for crib related injuries. The most common cause of injury is usually caused by kids climbing out and falling on the floor.

They say that necessity is the mother of invention. In this case it was the father who came up with a safety invention for the safety of his son. Daniel’s young son was just starting to stand up and explore, but he couldn’t have predicted that his son would be able to climb out of his crib and hit the hard floor, injuring his face. After a brief ER visit, luckily he was able to go home. Many children sustain serious head and neck injuries because of these falls.

Daniel tried to find a product on the market that would help solve his safety problem and found that nothing existed. So he designed the DreamCatcher, a mat that is laid on the floor, with 8 separate, inflatable sections that can be configured to any nursery layout whether the crib is against one wall, two walls, or in the center of the nursery. The DreamCatcher is like an inflatable airbag that surrounds your baby’s crib in case a baby is adventurous and climbs out. Daniel was able to solve his own safety problem and will solve a safety problem for many other parents out there.

For more info go to: https://www.safell.org

There are more than 47.5 million bikers on the road and 45,000 reported cycling accidents each year. Innovative bike safety is now more important than ever.

But Roadwarez has a solution – the world’s first and only digital IoT Smart Backpack and App that gives bikers safety features while out on the road. Their backpack technology is both functional and fashionable with continuous day and night digital lighting, automated, visual digital turn signals and brake lighting, GPS tracking and navigation, automated emergency notification system that will send SMS messages to your pre-programmed contacts and provide your exact location, built-in microphone to activate hands-free voice control features, and blue tooth connectivity with your smart phone.

Like many inventions, Roadwarez founder Yeshava Krispin came up with the idea for the Smart backpack after witnessing a fatal cycling accident. It was that turning point that made Yeshaya determined to make cycling safer for everyone. He combined his passion for technology with his apparel manufacturing background, and created Roadwarez, a company that is committed to the development of technological solutions and consumer products to improve cyclist safety, experience and performance.

What makes Roadwarez different from other LED-enabled cycling backpacks is that Roadwarez backpacks have integrated GPS navigation, making turn-signalling automatic and not a distraction to the cyclist.

Available on https://www.roadwarez.com/shop/ and Amazon.