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Accidents can happen in the blink of an eye, but you can help prevent them by monitoring your team’s fatigue levels.
Considering the labour-intensive nature of construction work, coupled with the long working hours and commutes, tradies are at a significant risk. However, wearable technology that monitors fatigue has started to become more commonplace, assisting managers in identifying at-risk situations to help alleviate them in the future.
Below we examine three recent technological developments that monitor tradie fatigue and how they can help your business boost productivity and lift its safety standards.
The SmartCap is an Australian invention that monitors the fatigue levels of the wearer. It comes in a cap, headband or hardhat variations and is even machine washable. It works because there’s an in-built sensor which reads electrical brain activity (EEG). This reading is then processed to determine how alert or drowsy the wearer is. This information is recorded and sent to your smartphone and a display screen (e.g. on the dashboard in the cab of a truck or site manager’s office). It has a 100m range.
The health benefits of such a technology are enormous. Tradies have a responsibility to be alert and this tool can help reinforce good practices because workers are alerted at critical times and their data is recorded. It also gives managers a good idea of ‘danger periods’. That means they can reduce risk by giving workers breaks at the right times, incorporating better strategies into their daily business practices.
Eagle Early-Warning System
Similar to the SmartCap, the Eagle system monitors fatigue for mobile workers. Tradies wear specially designed wireless glasses that measure eyelid movement at a rate of 500 times per second. This is done by using an invisible LED which is built into the frame of the glasses. It tracks your amplitude-velocity ratio – in English, that means how fast and how far a person opens their eyelid after they close it. This information is then used to calculate the alertness of the wearer. Data is recorded and sent to your smartphone or a display screen. The glasses also come in three different shades and can be adapted for prescription lenses.
Powerful and non-intrusive designs such as this are an excellent example of where wearable technology is going. Like the SmartCap, risk can be significantly reduced because the wearer and managers are aware of how fatigued a worker is, allowing them to better cater for their needs in the future. And this will also increase productivity levels.
Sweat Detecting Wristbands
Researchers at the University of California, Berkley, have been studying how sweat can help them improve the monitoring of fatigue. This technology is a wristband or headband worn throughout the day with an in-built sensor and wireless transmitter. It works by measuring the components of your sweat, particularly skin temperature and glucose, lactate and sodium levels. This gives you real-time access to information about the dehydration and fatigue of the worker. Data is recorded and can be instantly sent to the workers themselves, their managers, or their doctors.
Although this product has not yet gone to market, the results of the study have been published in the premier scientific journal, Nature, and so it is likely to be a massive success. And because tradies work for many hours in physically demanding environments, a lack of sweat won’t be an issue. This technology will be an important asset to your business.
Fatigue on the job can lead to injury and sometimes fatalities. Research the technologies available and do your bit to protect the safety of your workers and the interests of your business.
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