Photo courtesy of Triax Technologies.
Worker safety is of paramount importance to any construction company, and wearable technology is playing a bigger role in preventing accidents or serious injuries on the jobsite.
While increased regulation and safety protocols have led to incremental improvements in worker safety over the years, construction remains one of the most dangerous professions there is. By equipping workers with miniature electronic devices worn on the body or embedded in clothing, managers can better detect unsafe activity and respond more quickly to an emergency.
Types of Wearables in Construction
Wearables take many forms, but all are designed to be minimally invasive, owing to the physical nature of construction work. Many are designed to fit right into the safety equipment workers already wear every day. They include features like GPS locators, biometric feedback monitors and fall detectors, giving safety managers a better handle on what workers are doing and where they’re doing it.
The Spot-r Clip by Triax is a small pager-like device that uses geotagging technology and is worn right on a worker’s belt. Equipped with an array of sensors and linked to a mesh network, the Spot-r Clip gathers and transmits worker time, attendance and location data in real-time. It can automatically alert supervisors to a fall, and or allows workers themselves to submit a safety alert with the press of a button. Data around accidents, incidents, and daily construction logs can be collected and viewed directly within Procore, and that project data can be pulled from the Procore platform whenever needed for reference later.
SmartCap, a sensor-equipped band that fits into any hard hat, measures worker fatigue levels, scanning for “microsleeps,” that is a worker dozing off for a fraction of a second without realizing. The system can track a worker’s alertness patterns over time, and send an alarm to the accompanying smartphone app if it detects excessive fatigue. This allows crews to accurately monitor their tiredness levels without relying solely on “not feeling tired.”
Smart glasses can be worn like regular spectacles, but collect and transmit a wide range of worker activity, including capturing audio and video. Many smart glasses options on the market today utilize augmented reality, which presents the wearer with digitally superimposed information right in their field of vision. This not only gives workers guidance but allows offsite stakeholders to see the jobsite through a worker’s eyes and hear it through their ears, offering remote assistance.
Wearables as a Risk Management Tool
It’s even possible that someday the use of wearables could impact a construction company’s insurance premiums. A group of technology and construction experts from insurance providers have been looking at emerging technologies to determine which are most effective at mitigating and addressing construction risk. A recent study from Dodge Data & Analytics showed that wearables were one of the most frequently mentioned tech solutions as a method of reducing project risk.
“Going forward, it is going to be standard operating procedure that when you show up to work, you get issued your wearable, and go along as you’ve always done, but there’s data being collected that will be used to mitigate those risks,” one study participant said.
Some study participants even suggested that a company’s willingness to implement such technologies could one day influence carriers’ decisions about who they’re most likely to insure.
The best wearables can be easily integrated into a worker’s routine, collect key movement and location data, and seamlessly transmit that data to stakeholders. When construction workers are connected to such a network, they’re never truly alone on a jobsite, and the technology provides an added layer of protection for workers and companies alike.