Construction sites are dangerous working environments no matter how hard companies work to make them safe. Workers have to deal with working at soaring heights, fixing faulty electrical, lifting heavy and awkward materials and inhaling various toxins. An average of 3 in 100 workers are injured every year, according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Fortunately, there have been many advances in technology in recent years, all designed to keep workers safe. Let’s take a look at just a few of these advances.
1. Smart Sensors
Smart sensors are used throughout construction sites to monitor risks such as temperature, dust, pressure, noise and volatile compounds that are associated with paint and other chemicals. These sensors are mounted in various places around job sites and collect data that generates real-time alerts for workers in hazardous working environments.
Smart sensors are also used to electronically monitor the perimeter of a job site, a process called geofencing. The sensors alert workers when they step out of safe work zones.
Drones have greatly improved the safety of job sites by eliminating many dangers and safety hazards. They are used to deliver materials to workers in hard to reach areas, eliminating the need to send workers into hazardous conditions carrying bulky and heavy materials.
Another way that drones are used on construction sites is to collect real-time data about projects, so contractors know what is happening on the job site. They are used to take high-resolution photos and videos of construction projects and models of the work in progress. Monitoring work this way helps to catch problems early before they become too costly or add significant time to the project. It also eliminates the need for these inspections to be done by hand, saving a worker from having to maneuver through potentially hazardous conditions.
Drones with cameras mounted on them increase security by monitoring construction sites for theft and vandalism. They also keep tabs on workers throughout the day, improving communication and safety, proving to be an invaluable tool for superintendents and investors.
Wearable technologies are becoming standard on the job site. They include everything from heated jackets to smart caps. Some of these items allow contractors to see where workers are located on the job site and to communicate with them. They receive real-time alerts when injuries occur or when other hazards arise.
Smart caps use brain waves to monitor fatigue. The cap will send alerts through noise and vibrations to the wearer if it detects them going to sleep.
Another innovation is Microsoft’s HoloLens. HoloLens is a holographic computer that allows users to overlay 3D building plans over a job site so that project managers can see how things will work before they are built. This technology helps them to detect potential hazards for workers well in advance.
4. Virtual Reality
Virtual reality is used by construction companies to train workers in safety. Virtual reality programs replicate job sites, allowing workers to interact with the environment before they are exposed to it. There are programs available for workers to learn how to learn new skills without putting anyone in danger. Trainees are more engaged and learn more as a result. Training with virtual reality programs has been proven to reduce the rate of incidents on the job site.
5. Mobile Phones and Tablets
Contractors are required to comply with health and safety mandates for each and every job. Mobile devices speed up this process by providing instant access to safety documents and reports. Incidents recorded as soon as they happen provide more reliable reports than those that are written hours or even days later. These reports provide more accurate safety data. This data is used to improve job sites in the future. Electronic reports simplify the process and encourage workers to submit a report right when the issue arises.
No matter what specialty you work in safety is an issue. Technology has made huge gains in this area for the construction industry. While there is still a long way to go, advancements that contribute to further improvement of safety are on site. Many companies are already taking advantage of these new ideas to keep their workers safe.