The world is getting serious about jobsite safety. Advancements in technology, rising awareness and increased regulatory enforcement are just some of the many factors driving a flourishing personal protective equipment (PPE) market. Zion Research estimates PPE will be a $56.06 billion industry by 2021.
Now that construction jobsite safety is so financially viable, innovators are looking for ways to disrupt, cash in and save some lives in the process. In looking back at the first article I wrote on this topic, “5 Construction Safety Tools for the Jobsite,” many manufacturers are already making big strides. For example, drones are taking off (pun intended) even more than expected and are relied upon heavily for remote safety monitoring. Construction Dive’s “The Top 5 Tech Trends at ConExpo 2017.” showcased drones and the Illumagear HALO Light. Nearly 30 state DOTs have already adopted HALO.
In addition to drones and HALO, I also mentioned backup cameras, EquipChat and the Cat S60 Smartphone (Equipment World’s #2 rated smartphone for construction in 2017) last year. Jumping off from there, here’s a quick look at some very interesting jobsite safety tools.
The Terminator Does Jobsite Safety
In the 1984 movie The Terminator, Arnold Schwarzenegger’s cyborg sees a heads-up display in his field of view. That technology is available today and is known as augmented reality. It’s growing in popularity in gaming (e.g., Pokemon Go), retail and construction. Jobsite safety implications are founded primarily in training. For example, it’s possible to overlay instructions and warnings on a machine’s control panel so a new employee can learn how to use it safely and service it more quickly. DAQRI and XOEye Technologies are early entrants into this wearable jobsite safety technology.
Views from Above
Situational awareness can be difficult to grasp when your office is in the sky. HoistCam wireless camera systems give crane operators more visibility about what’s going on with their lifts and around and underneath their cabs. Up to eight cameras can be installed and monitored at a time, effectively eliminating blind spots and blind lifts.
Put a Meteorologist on the Payroll
Weather can wreak havoc on project timelines. Shut down a shift for what ends up being a brief thunderstorm and you lose a day’s labor. Let workers stay too long in excessive heat and you risk injury or illness.
Most weather apps and local news forecasts get their data from the National Weather Service (NWS). Adequate at a regional level; but to get visibility into the conditions on your jobsite you need a more targeted approach, such as that from AccuWeather Enterprise Solutions. Using a combination of NWS data, proprietary modeling and historical data, AccuWeather’s weather alert and warning false alarm rate is only 11 percent compared to 70 percent for the NWS.
Who’s Driving That Rig?
Driverless vehicles made a big splash at ConExpo 2017. CAT demonstrated the remote control of a D8T. While the operator worked in Las Vegas, the D8T responded from Peoria, Illinois, 1,700 miles away (see video).
Driverless—or autonomous—vehicles are growing in popularity in the construction industry, primarily for safety reasons. Getting operators out of the cab is the best way to protect them. Especially with truck mounted attenuators (TMAs) (also known as ‘crash trucks’); they’re designed to protect a work crew from a distracted driver crashing into them. The only safe place for a TMA truck operator is outside of the truck. Royal Truck & Equipment Inc. is implementing its first autonomous TMA trucks in Florida.
Partial autonomous technologies are also in development. Volvo is already piloting Cooperative Adaptive Cruise Control (CACC) technology to achieve safer, more fuel-efficient truck platooning.
When Feeling Energized is a Bad Thing
The V-Watch® Personal Voltage Detector alerts wearers to the presence of electrical fields or energized equipment. Just dangle it around your neck at chest level and listen for the beeps. For demolition, emergency response and electrical work, this adds another layer of safety between workers and deadly electrical fields.
Which of these is whiz-bang enough to highlight the Tech Experience at ConExpo 2018? Maybe all. Maybe none. Maybe Zippkool, body cameras, or Oasis welfare cabins. My money’s on something with cameras. There were cameras everywhere at this year’s show. If it flies, drives or digs it has a camera these days.
It’s an exciting time for jobsite safety in the construction industry.