4 Ways Technology is Improving Health & Safety in Construction.
In the construction industry, technology is vital. The use of virtual and augmented reality is allowing architects to communicate and collaborate better with clients and engineers are able to create better plans and spot potential issues before they become real. Drones are reducing the time it takes to produce accurate land surveys and Building Information Modelling has replaced traditional blueprints with 3D models. Construction knows how to get the best out of technology, but it’s in health and safety that new equipment becomes especially important, because it can save lives.
In this blog we’re looking at some of the new technology which could become the health and safety norm.
If you thought wearable tech was limited to watches and VR goggles, think again! Highways engineers at Amey have been trialling a biometric collar which detects when drivers are dozing off at the wheel and helps workers raise instant alarms at the touch of a button.
The tech is provided by Fujitsu and includes a drowsiness detector and ear clip measuring changes in blood flow which are indicators of attention loss and an initial sign of fatigue. A rugged wrist-worn vital band monitors vital signs and environmental factors. This alerts employees to signs of heat stress and provides other valuable information, such as a sudden change in posture indicating a trip or fall, and the wearer’s exertion level, to ensure they are operating safely. A location badge, when activated by the wearer, sends an instant alert allowing help to be dispatched far more quickly and accurately in the event of a threat or injury.
The team at Amey ran an 8 week trial on Highways England’s North East Regional Technology Maintenance Contract with positive results. Principal engineer for intelligent transport systems Mike Kehoe said: “Every member of staff on that contract drives a vehicle and can be out at any time of the day or night, in all weathers or in locations like embankments and next to live traffic. We found that the tech is transferable to other situations and could potentially provide a wealth of data about the well-being of our people which will help us improve general safety.”
Comprehensive health and safety app for sites
The Berkeley Innovation Fund have awarded £2 million to the development of the fuseAware safety system which involves fitting a construction site with sensors, beacons and durable outdoor screens displaying real-time data and illustrated signage.
Users wear a smartwatch which receives alerts when they are entering a high-risk scenario. Supervisors can monitor an app on smartphones and tablets and will receive an alert if an operative breaks a condition set up through the system, such as limited time doing a certain task. The app also tracks each operative individually and will alert for lone working, if an operative is working at height and whether a health and safety condition is violated.
If the transgression is repeated beyond a certain threshold, an intervention request is issued and the operative is required to conduct additional training, tested by an e-learning module. The project has since been developed and tested on site over a period of 18 months.
Assessing site conditions
Cancer, respiratory problems, dermatitis from skin exposure to hazardous substances, and health problems from high levels of exposure to noise and vibrations are among the occupational safety and health problems most commonly experienced by construction workers. There are now a number of smart hubs available which purport to improve conditions for operatives by monitoring noise levels, ultraviolet rays and airborne particles on construction sites.
These hubs use sensors to identify physical health risks in the industry, these sensors include a microphone, UV sensing elements and laser particle counters. The systems allow construction teams to quickly assess site conditions and determine if any employees are at risk. A number of test trials have begun on sites across the UK.
New JCB bucket which mitigates risk of disturbing cables
Contractors must take extra care when conducting excavation works, as the risk of disturbing underground cables presents a safety risk and possible increased costs. It is estimated that 60,000 underground cable strikes occur every year, which puts the machine operators at serious risk of injury or death and it’s hoped a new JCB bucket design will protect workers from striking cables.
The UNI-TUSK X1 from Rhinox combines a tooth and blade into one system with no sharp edges. This reduces the risk of penetrating underground cables and pipes. The large surface area of the UNI-TUSK X1 also increases the digging efficiency.
Because the UNI-TUSK X1 is designed like a side-cutter style tooth, it locks the side plates and the lip plate. increasing the structural integrity of the bucket.
At CarmichaelUK we take our health, safety and compliance obligations very seriously and are committed to providing the highest levels of candidate compliance checks on all of our contractors to ensure that they are competent to work on site and that all of their safety-critical certifications are valid. Click here to read about our commitment to compliance.