By Melody Eve-Ramos, AMAST Content
According to OSHA, 20 percent of workplace deaths occur in construction along with tens of thousands of non-lethal injuries, but construction laborers only account for 6 percent of the U.S. labor force. This large disparity in workplace safety is a driving factor in the development of innovative solutions to reduce risk.
One of the solutions that intersect emerging technology and safety is wearables. Construction wearables are any device that is worn on the body of a construction worker. A U.S. Chamber of Commerce report notes that 83 percent of contractors believe that construction wearables would improve on-site safety.
Here are 3 innovative wearables and how they improve safety:
Smartwatches are an easy solution to safety improvement because most people wear these watches daily already. These devices are great tools for safety because the sensors can monitor activity data, detect falls, and provide hands-free communication.
Keeping track of activity data can help workers stay on top of heart rate and step count to prevent overexertion during a work shift. Some smartwatches offer electrocardiogram readings that detect abnormal heart rhythms and spot respiratory distress. In practice, these readings can signal to a laborer that they need to take a break.
Smart Boots/ Powered Footwear
Smart boots transform an essential piece of safety equipment into a powerful piece of wearable technology, capable of detecting pressure and location. The sensors equipped in the sole can detect falls or small shocks sustained by construction workers, and call for help automatically. These boots are also location-aware, tracking the location of a worker accurately, which improves lone worker safety and helps to reduce time spent in unsafe areas.
Smart Glasses/ Augmented Reality
Augmented reality is a digital layer of imagery that changes one’s view of the real world. By using safety glasses equipped with augmented reality, laborers can keep track of information about their work sites. Smart glasses enable workers to wear goggles that keep their eyes safe, and also show them vital information about leading edges, hazardous materials, and safety protocols.
Maintaining awareness of leading edges minimizes the risk of injury by keeping laborers abreast of the real-time location of leading edges on their worksite. These glasses can also detect hazardous materials and provide visual alerts to the wearer.
What makes these wearables appealing is that they are upgrades to equipment already used regularly on sites. Rather than adding more gear technology, companies are adding new and exciting features to equipment that workers would be wearing anyway. It is expected that 23 percent of contractors will adopt these tools by the end of 2021.