Advances in technology have the potential to revolutionize certain industries. More specifically, these technologies can improve the safety of job sites and help save workers’ lives. Some occupations have a higher risk of workplace injuries from incidents involving heavy machinery, hazardous material, electrocution or a highway accident. For instance, construction falls account for the greatest number of workplace deaths, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
Truck drivers face potential dangers in their line of work on a regular basis and are engaged in one of the top 10 most dangerous industries in the United States, as are those employed in the industrial and manufacturing fields. Due to the higher-than-normal likelihood of an on-the-job injury or fatality, it is important that these dangerous industries utilize the state-of-the-art safety technology available.
Safety Technology Available To Protect Workers
Wearables are “smart” devices that can be worn and that use sensors to collect and transmit data to and from the wearer via an app on a smartphone or computer. Wearable equipment is often outfitted with sensors that collect information about the wearer and the wearer’s surroundings. By being able to monitor a worker’s vital signs (respiration rate, skin temperature, heart rate, etc.) and their location in relation to hazardous areas around the job site, the wearable can provide early warnings of potential threats. Current examples of smart construction wearables include:
- Cat’s Smartband - Monitors fatigue levels of workers using an internal 3D accelerometer to measure sleep and activity cycles, data syncs to a secure platform when workers arrive on the job site to predict risks of fatigue.
- SolePower’s Smart Boots - Uses GPS, motion sensors and biometric sensors to track vitals, sense falls and alert workers to unsafe conditions. SolePower Smart Boots are equipped with kinetic chargers, so they are powered by walking.
- Redpoint’s Vests - Uses real-time locating systems (RTLS) embedded in vests to track location and alert wearers of hazardous areas and potentially dangerous situations.
- FallSafety’s App – Detects sudden movements that could indicate a fall. A two-stage alarm system first lets a worker know they have 45 seconds to manually cancel the next alarm. The second alerts their emergency contact and provides their exact GPS location.
Sensor technology is used in construction in two ways: site sensors and geofencing. Service companies deploy sensors across sites and monitor conditions such as temperature, smoke, and other environmental markers to ensure exposure levels are safe. Contractors and workers receive alerts when levels become a danger. Sensors are also used for geofencing, which creates a virtual geographic boundary on a job site, enabling software to trigger an alert when a worker enters a hazardous zone.
Drones, also known as unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), are piloted by remote control or are autonomous. Because of the ease with which drones can be outfitted with cameras, sensors and other data-collection tools, they are increasingly being used on the job site for:
- Electronic distance measurement
- High-resolution aerial images
- GPS and real-time location tracking
- Light detection and ranging
Drones can be used for terrain modeling, which is comprised of topographic surveys, high-resolution images and GPS data that can be used to create 3D maps of job sites. They can also be utilized to remotely inspect unstable structures or hard-to-reach areas, therefore avoiding having to put workers in harm’s way. Drones can serve a surveillance function too, where aerial imaging is used to ensure workers stay compliant with OSHA regulations and safety standards.
Autonomous construction equipment refers to self-operating or remote-controlled machines. In place of a human physically operating from inside the vehicle, this equipment operates through a combination of programming and data transfer. Autonomous machines are increasingly being used in construction for two main purposes: Repetitive operations that require precision and operations in hazardous environments too dangerous for humans. These technologies are also becoming available to make truck drivers’ jobs safer. Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) can help drivers stay in their lane, make micro-movements on the steering wheel, and use adaptive cruise control.
“With work-related injuries, it is important to remember that it’s the employer’s responsibility to ensure the safety of all of their workers,” Brad says. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is also in place to help ensure safe and healthful working conditions for working men and women by setting and enforcing standards and by providing training, outreach, education and assistance.
Brad says, “While OSHA promulgates several standards to protect the worker, the problem is that they don’t have the manpower to enforce those regulations unless something really bad happens. In that instance, they will investigate the workplace and may fine the company.”
Have You Been Injured In A Texas Accident?
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At Parker Law Firm, our experienced personal injury lawyers believe people matter. We are committed to our clients, not case numbers, and we believe in the power of the civil justice system. With years spent both representing accident victims and participating in the state legislative process, our founder, Brad Parker, has developed a deep understanding of the law and gained unique experience that helps him get results for his clients.