Technology is constantly improving the way businesses operate, and those in the construction industry are no exception. Communication and collaboration has improved with help from a variety of project management tools and the proliferation of smartphones.
Additionally, architectural visualizations are supported by a range of free and paid apps that both reduce the need to rework designs from scratch and aid efficient scheduling. Technology is also being used to make construction sites safer.
This is especially important for businesses, as workplace injuries can be costly. It’s likely that an injury will reduce the overall rate of productivity and efficiency on the job site, and if they’re regular occurrences, this can impact employee retention rates. As explained by one workers compensation attorney in Philadelphia, employers could also be responsible for paying up to 500 weeks worth of reparations to injured parties, putting a major dent in their bottom lines.
Below are five different applications that are already being utilized to improve site safety.
The metal frames intended to enhance strength of workers through motorized ‘muscles’ are mainly being sold for rehabilitation today. However, that’s expected to change in the near future. ABI Research, a leading manufacturer of exoskeletons, predicts the market will reach 1.8 billion as the construction industry begins to utilize this technology for their workers.
These suits are designed to reduce fatigue, help humans lift heavier items, maintain good posture and avoid common construction site injuries and strains.
Construction wearables are being produced by Human Condition Safety, a New York based company. Their team is interested in creating a technology ecosystem that keeps workers safer in construction and other industries that have high physical risks.
Their fused sensor technology is incorporated into safety clothing, including high-visibility vests and the like. This helps employers and site managers gain safety insights that can be used to reduce workplace risks for workers.
One of the company’s safety vest designs includes an airbag in the collar to cushion a worker should they fall. This vest can also monitor worker’s vital signs and repetitive motions so dangers or hazards can be spotted before any harm is caused.
Sensor-based technology is being developed by a number of different businesses to help with real-time construction safety management. The sensors help to gather highly accurate data to build a realistic representation of site activity.
In doing so, they can provide a solid foundation for facilitating workplace modernization and informatization. Sensors are used to track and record movement and interaction of people, goods, and energy, something that is extremely difficult to do with traditional human-reliant methods.
By mounting sensors throughout a construction site, temperature, noise, dust particles, and toxic compound levels can be monitored and tracked. This means workers can easily be alerted to dangers automatically when risky levels are reached. Data collection can also provide opportunities for further analysis so future risks can continue to be mitigated.
No longer just tech for gamers, virtual reality (VR) is being used to teach people skills of all sorts, from surgery to flying a plane. VR allows the safe practice of hard to hone skills without any risk to the trainee (or test subject!).
Safety training and training for crane and other high risk machinery found on construction sites can be done through VR. This allows employees to gain experience and build their skill level before stepping onto a real-life construction site. There is also potential to use VR to prepare construction workers for extreme environments such as working at height or confined underground spaces.
Thanks to the development of the Small Unmanned Aircraft Regulations put in place by the Federal Aviation Administration, the commercial use of drones has seen a boost in applications. Drones are already being used in construction sites in a number of ways, with further opportunities just around the corner.
Site surveying and structural inspections are already being conducted with drones, making construction sites safer. Further uses include daily site inspections for detecting possible risks, monitoring workers safety practices and productivity, and even creating progress models so everyone is well-versed on a project’s growth. All of these applications are starting to positively impact the construction sites of today.
Some may question the use of technology on construction sites. But, any improvements to safety that can decrease the high number of deaths recorded each year by the Bureau of Labor Statistics are welcome.