Enhancing Safety by Preventing Human-Plant Interaction with Technology
The construction industry is one of the largest and most complex industries in the world, and safety is a critical issue for all stakeholders involved. Despite the efforts made to ensure the safety of construction workers, accidents, causing serious injuries and even fatalities, involving construction machinery still occur.
However, technology is now playing a crucial role in enhancing safety and preventing construction machinery-related accidents. From wearable technology and smart sensors to virtual and augmented reality training, new innovations are being developed to improve the safety of workers and prevent accidents.
In this article, we delve into the latest technologies being used to enhance safety in the construction industry. We explore the ways in which they are helping to reduce the number of accidents and injuries on construction sites.
The Scale of the Safety Challenge
Delivery construction projects safely is incredibly important, as it affects the well-being of workers, the public, and the overall success of a project. The construction industry is known to have a higher rate of workplace accidents and injuries compared to other industries, and the consequences can be severe and long-lasting.
The scale of the safety challenge is extensive, but the construction industry stands out as one of the most dangerous based on the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) statistics for fatal injuries.
This graph shows the main kinds of fatal accidents across industries, demonstrating the demand for safety measures to be increased on machinery and vehicles.
When moving away from fatal injuries, the picture from the report remains the same, demonstrating the dangers of moving objects and vehicles.
Beyond the Human Impact
Without seeking to minimise the human impact on these injuries, there is also an inevitable impact on projects and businesses from the number of injuries in the workplace overall.
The HSE state that 565,000 Workers sustained a non-fatal injury according to self-reports from the Labour Force Survey in 2021/22 (LFS) and 61,713 employee non-fatal injuries reported by employers in 2021/22 (RIDDOR.)
The sheer scale of the problem in terms of project continuity, alongside worker trust, is enormous, with millions of man-days lost each year due to injury based on these statistics from the Health and Safety Executive.
Implementing safe practices and procedures helps to prevent accidents and minimize risks on construction sites, ensuring that workers can carry out their tasks in a safe and healthy environment. This not only protects the workers but also helps to keep the project on schedule and within budget.
In addition, ensuring safety in construction can also enhance a company’s reputation and build trust with clients and the public. It demonstrates a commitment to responsible and ethical business practices and can lead to increased opportunities for future work.
Geofencing as a Safety Solution
Geofencing in the context of construction safety generally refers to the creation of virtual boundaries or barriers within or around a construction site which can be linked to the position of workers or plant through the use of positioning technologies (GPS,UWB or RFID) These positioning technologies can be used to monitor the movements of workers, vehicles, and equipment within the site, providing valuable information and alerting as they come into contact with the geofences, helping to improve safety and productivity.
For example, a geofence can be used to ensure that workers and vehicles are only allowed to enter specific areas of the site where it is safe for them to do so. If a worker or vehicle enters an unauthorised area, an alert can be triggered to alert management and/or safety personnel, allowing them to respond quickly to potential safety hazards.
In addition to improving safety, geofencing can also help construction companies to optimise their operations by providing real-time data on the movement of workers, vehicles, and equipment. This data can be used to identify bottlenecks, improve traffic flow, and allocate resources more efficiently.
Supercharging Safety with OWL
Onwave has developed our own geofencing platform, OWL working alongside Customers and major works contractors, within high-profile projects to enhance worker safety. In fact, the use of approved geofencing solutions, like OWL, is being mandated by Network Rail on their projects.
OWL is a location-based system that uses geofencing technology to improve project safety, with tangential benefits to productivity, security and the environment. OWL helps teams to visualise and understand their surroundings, and by automatically alerting users to the risks and hazards as they go about their duties (e.g., their proximity to excavations/ Moving Plant).
There are several functions within OWL that help to enhance worker safety, these include: fixed zones, dynamic zones, lone working functionality (for vigilance checks) and Live View the ability for project managers to have an all-seeing overview of the construction site to help spot trends and prevent accidents or incidents
Fixed zones can be configured to ensure that your machinery and workers are deployed safely, segregated where possible. Your teams can create safe walking routes to minimise the potential of human-plant interactions on your site. Your teams can also configure zones to prevent interaction with other hazards such as overhead or buried services.
Warn your users when they are getting too close to dangerous heavy plant. Dynamic zones can be created around plant and continually updated based on the location of an OWL Tag (a magnetically mounted tracking and alerting device) which moves with the item of plant.
Rules can be configured on these zones just like other static geofences where unauthorised users can be warned when they are too close. Alerts can also be customised and sent to other users (such as the machine operator or banksmen) to alert them of this interaction.
With OWL you can immediately locate your plant on the interactive Live View map. Your team can provide field teams with all the information they need at their fingertips by attaching documents such as work permits, vehicle routes and risk assessments. Project Managers can verify plant machinery with the proper equipment or training.
With OWL you can easily create safety monitoring policies for individuals, ensuring that your supervisors and managers are informed in the case of an emergency, or when a worker falls or there is a lack of movement for a prolonged period.
Lone workers can even be sent Auto Vigilance checks at regular intervals to confirm that they are safe throughout the day.
We’re Here to Help…
In conclusion, geofencing technology is a valuable tool for construction safety, and for good reason given the startling statistics presented above.
Geofencing provides real-time monitoring, alerts, and data tracking to ensure a safer work environment. By setting virtual boundaries, geofencing helps keep workers informed of potential dangers and can quickly alert managers to any incidents.
With this technology, construction companies can improve their overall safety record, reduce the number of accidents, and increase the efficiency of their operations
If you’re interested in learning more about how geofencing can benefit your construction site, why not schedule a demo today? With a demo, you can see the technology in action and get a better understanding of how it can improve your safety program. Speak to one of our team and gain valuable insights into the benefits of geofencing for your projects.