New technology facilitates safer construction | News of the week Geo

As construction companies look to make their construction sites safer for employees, technology may be the answer.

Construction companies are adapting in response to events making this industry one of the most dangerous in the United States.

Implementing new technologies and tools allows construction crews to mitigate risk and comply with regulations. The nation’s leading manufacturers are developing technology that improves communication, monitoring, hazard protection, training and incident reporting on construction sites.

This article discusses the importance of construction safety, the hardest-to-mitigate risks, and the technology that is helping construction companies reduce workplace injuries.

Construction safety is the focus of attention

Construction companies and regulatory bodies such as the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) prioritize workplace safety in the construction industry. Safety considerations are paramount in construction because it is one of the most dangerous industries in the United States

Private sector workers suffered 4,764 fatal injuries in 2020, of which 1,008 occurred on construction sites. Entrepreneurs and team leaders must prevent situations that most frequently cause fatal accidents. The most common fatal events in the construction industry are:

  • Falls, trips and slips to a lower level.
  • Transport accidents involving motor land vehicles on the roads.
  • Exposure to harmful substances and environments such as electricity and extreme temperatures.
  • Being hit or trapped by equipment or objects.

Safety challenges in construction

While construction crew leaders recognize the most dangerous situations workers face and the regulations that apply to them, overcoming the obstacles remains a challenge. OSHA reports that construction crews fell short of expectations most frequently in the following areas in fiscal 2021:

  1. Fall protection
  2. Scaffolding support
  3. Fall protection training
  4. Eye and face protection

Essential security tools and technology

Some of the nation’s leading construction companies are deploying tools and technologies that help them solve major safety challenges. As a result, the last decade has seen a decline in recordable occupational injury and illness rates. Where there were four recordable cases for every 100 full-time workers in 2010, the rate dropped to 2.5 by 2021. The following resources enable construction crews to reduce workplace injury rates.

1. Sensors

Environmental hazards such as dust, harmful gases, heat and noise pose various challenges for workplace safety. Workers can become ill from exposure to air pollutants or extreme temperatures. Excessive noise limits a worker’s ability to notice and avoid danger.

Modern sensors allow construction crews to monitor environmental hazards and react before they cause damage. A sensor can assess the environment and provide rapid data output so workers have time to leave a hazardous area.

Air quality sensors are important in modern building environments. Crew leaders use air quality sensors to detect harmful dust and chemical levels.

The sensors also monitor distractions to increase employee alertness. Some construction vehicles have built-in monitoring systems that track head and eye movement. The sensor will alert the crew if movement of the operator’s head and eyes indicates distraction or fatigue.

via Exin

2. Drones

Drones allow team leaders to monitor construction sites with greater ease and less risk. A drone can quickly fly across a vast construction site or quickly reach the top floor of a multi-story building.

Construction leaders are using drones to improve safety in a few key ways.

First, they equip drones with cameras to monitor construction sites. A camera-equipped drone can survey a construction site for hazards before managers deploy workers, then monitor safety performance as the job unfolds. A drone can also be equipped with sensors that detect aerial hazards before or during work.

Surveillance improvements facilitated by drones allow crew chiefs to maintain safer job sites.

3. Wearable Devices

A wearable is any type of personal protective equipment (PPE) that protects the body from hazardous materials and environments. Modern innovations have expanded the protective capabilities of wearable PPE.

Today’s construction crews use smart garments augmented with digital tools that monitor the wearer and notify crew leaders of any problems. Manufacturers adapt smart clothing to improve safety by meeting the specific demands of the job.

Smart clothing can be a vest or a watch with a sensor that tracks the wearer’s vital signs. Some smart vests are equipped with an inflatable cushion that activates during a fall. A smart helmet can be equipped with sensors that monitor air quality and detect toxic gases.

4. Mobile tools

Construction crews operate in a new location for each job. Mobile technology allows them to bring their technology to any site.

Today, construction crews can upload blueprints, checklists, permits, instructions, and safety insights to mobile devices. Each crew member carries vital safety information in their pocket to access and share on the go. Greater access to safety information helps prevent dangerous accidents.

Mobile technology also helps crews respond when an accident occurs. Workers can submit an instant report after an incident so leadership can dispatch emergency crews.

5. Remote controlled equipment

When using heavy equipment in a hazardous area, workers are safer the further away they can be from the situation. Remote controlled equipment allows workers to complete tasks from a safe distance from hazards.

Major equipment manufacturers integrate remote control hardware to improve workplace safety. There are two types of remote control hardware for construction equipment: remote and line-of-site.

Remote hardware uses high-speed data connectivity to connect the operator and equipment from a remote command center. Alternatively, line-of-site connectivity allows workers to operate machinery remotely while still on site.

via Clirio

6. Virtual and augmented reality

Virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) offer unique enhancements to training programs. These technologies bridge the gap between theoretical studies and practical applications so that trainees can simulate dangerous activities without risk.

VR is a computer simulation that replicates a three-dimensional environment. Wearing VR goggles, trainees will enter a virtual world where they can attempt dangerous tasks in real time.

Where VR creates a digital environment from scratch, AR adds to the existing environment. The AR glasses establish a digital overlay on the trainee’s physical environment. During AR training, a worker might sit in the cab of a machine and operate its controls in response to digital stimuli that the AR device projects into the real world.

The influence of technology on safe and simplified construction

As one of the deadliest industries in the United States, the construction industry institutes policies and implements technologies that attempt to reduce risk. Digital tools for monitoring, reporting, reporting and training helped construction companies reduce injury rates between 2010 and 2020. Tools such as sensors, remote control hardware, mobile devices and smart clothing will continue to improve construction safety in the future.

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