Enhancing construction site safety with new technology
Maintaining safe construction sites relies on staff receiving continuous training so they can identify, avoid and mitigate hazardous conditions. While formal training will always be necessary, technological advances are supplementing traditional classroom education in unique ways to keep on-site employees safe.
Specialized lighting and personal equipment
Attention-grabbing lights can make a tremendous difference in the safety of staff who work in areas of live traffic. With the growing innovation of LED lights, adding strobe lighting to fleet vehicles has become more feasible and helps alert oncoming motorists of a parked, slow-moving or generally unexpected vehicle. The lights can be installed essentially anywhere on the truck – on top of the roof, inside the grill, or within the brake lights. In addition to lightbars on the roofs of vehicles, Mead & Hunt has recently begun integrating strobes into the headlights, brake lights and grills of our new fleet. This innovation has been widely accepted by employees due to the ease of use and added protection it provides.
LED lights are also being used as wearable safety measures. The lighting has been integrated into both high-visibility vests and hardhats. For employees working in dark and low-light environments, these items provide added protection by making themselves and their surroundings more visible. Additionally, vests and hardhats can be upgraded to include sensors that monitor heart rates and body temperature levels, reducing the likelihood of heat-related illnesses. The personal protective equipment can also remind on-site employees to take regular breaks. The items are also being provided with GPS devices and emergency buttons that allow for tracking in case the employee needs to raise an alert for help. These capabilities decrease emergency response reaction times and can make a positive impact on time-sensitive injuries.
Drones are a new tool that have taken the AEC industry by storm. Drones can offer immediate aerial and close-up inspection of unsafe areas while eliminating risk to employees. Navigating dangerous terrain or scaling a building is not necessary when using a drone. Drones also come with various types of cameras, meaning that they can capture a full spectrum of construction site conditions for inspection and review.
Formal safety education and training often relies on long classes which lack interaction and can result in reduced attention and learning. For some, the best way to learn about construction hazards is to provide an immersive experience. By adapting technology, construction site safety can become a more personalized and involved experience.
Virtual Reality is an advanced level of technology impacting site safety. This unique tool can provide a simulated immersive experience for users. Using VR for safety training offers employees the chance to explore a controlled environment without the hazards of an actual construction site. When the experience offers a walking tour of a construction site, pop-up videos can provide specific instructions explaining how to recognize and correct potentially hazardous situations.
As Mead & Hunt explores more options to improve safety conditions for our staff and our clients’ construction sites, I’m excited to see how the industry adapts and improves due to each of these innovations.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Zac Elliott is Mead & Hunt’s Corporate Safety Manager. He is adept in workplace safety knowledge and engages staff in training and pre-planning activities to determine potential hazards and identify mitigation opportunities.
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