At the upcoming ICUEE (Oct. 1-3 in Louisville, Kentucky), Abby Ferri, VP, national construction practice, from the risk management, insurance, and employee benefits advisor Hays Companies, will be conducting an “in-the-field Safety Tech Trek.”
Rather than presenting a PowerPoint in a classroom, she'll be walking around the show floor discussing how new equipment and technology can help keep workers safe.
“Despite what some think, technology is for every company,” Ferri says. “It’s a matter of finding what technology works with a company’s culture and can supplement that culture, plus make things easier.
“Under the lens of training, if there is technology for the sake of using technology, this may not resonate well with the workers,” Ferri says. “But technology that helps them do their jobs better, safer and more efficiently will prove beneficial.”
Ferri says these are some of the top construction safety technologies to keep an eye on:
1. Wearables and Embedded Technology: This technology involves attaching various types of mobile electronics and embedded sensors to the body and PPE for a wide range of purposes. These include proximity detection, ergonomics, fatigue, overexertion, and stress level monitoring. The result is improved worker and job site safety.
2. IoT (Internet of Things): By combining the real-time data generated by wearables, embedded technology, and GPS tracking with the IoT, Big Data can be used to monitor and measure a wide variety of safety performance metrics within the construction industry. This information can then be used to continuously change and/or strengthen safety programs.
3. Enterprise Solutions: These are designed to integrate multiple facets of job site safety through the interchange of information from “connected” workers and a “connected” job site. With a sensor network onsite and connected workers enabled by technology, workplace safety is improved because these solutions enable workers to transmit and receive information in real time. Additionally, worker productivity is increased due to the continuous interaction between the environment, information, and workers.
4. Collision-Avoidance Systems: Technologies will continue to evolve to further improve construction equipment safety. These include blind-spot coverage, proximity detection alerts, detecting the presence of workers, collision-avoidance systems, and systems that monitor equipment operators and keep a record of their performance.
5. Microlearning: While online safety training has its place, it doesn’t work well for those who work in the field, notes Ferri. Typically, these workers don’t engage with sitting in front of a computer to watch safety training and will not retain much information. More effective is microlearning. Basically, this involves is breaking down information into compact, focused learning segments—usually three to five minutes long—that are designed to meet a specific learning outcome. The training, which can be viewed on a smartphone or tablet in the field, is easier to process and knowledge retention is increased.
6. Apps: Mobile applications are making it easier to get safety training and information to workers, plus help safety managers be more efficient and productive.