As the construction industry in Australia continues to grow, workplace safety has become a top concern. The biggest risks that face workers on a construction site are the fatal four: falls, electrocutions, being struck by an object, and being caught in-between. In fact, 28% of all construction injuries involve persons falling from elevated heights.
Workplace safety has come a long way since the use of simple hard hats and safety glasses. Today, construction technology is being used to enhance the safety of workers in many different ways. From using drones to survey the worksite to equipping employees with wearables that limit the risk of accidents, technology in the construction industry is making workers safer while on the job.
Here are some of the latest technology features that enhance workplace safety.
Construction workers are often more likely (than other industries) to obtain bodily strains and musco-skeletal disorders. These injuries often occur as a result of lifting heavy objects or using heavy work tools for long periods of time.
Exoskeletons limit the stress-and-strain on workers’ body parts by providing support to heavy objects and enhancing body posture. Exoskeletons come in two main variations; powered and unpowered. Unpowered exoskeletons are primarily meant to redistribute loads and make heavy lifting easier. These devices can distribute weight to your stronger muscles so you don’t strain other weaker parts of the body.
Powered exoskeletons take things one step further. They use a network of sensors and motors to help workers when lifting heavy objects.
Exposure to harmful materials is also a real risk that affects workplace safety. In fact, Australia has the second-highest asbestos-related death rate in the world. The risks of asbestos exposure for Australian trades are well known; mesothelioma and many other respiratory disorders.
Thankfully, construction technology is being used to limit exposure to harmful materials, such as site sensors that identify toxins in the air or in building materials. These sensors work by taking readings from the environment and interpreting them to identify harmful components.
They can also be used to take temperature measurements, moisture levels, and other indicators that determine the safety of the surrounding environment. In this way, safety measures can be established to limit the exposure of your workers to harmful materials.
Faulty or poorly-operated machinery is a common cause of accidents on construction sites. To eliminate the risk of human error in machine operation and maintenance, construction technology now features software applications that can be used to monitor safety in individual machines.
These safety-related software features allow operators to control the sway of heavy loads, adapt the lifting speed of machines to match the load, and more easily maintain important equipment. And because all data is collected and analysed within a centralised software, you have more control over machine maintenance and operation on the worksite.
Many people think of drones as being most useful for war-zones or recreational purposes. However, drones are becoming increasingly important tools used in construction sites. They’re effective at surveying the worksite for any potential hazards and can also be used to supervise workers to ensure they remain safe on the job.
Because these machines take photos and videos in real time, you can always maintain live updates of changing work conditions. For example, the drone can record wind speed, temperature and pressure readings to ensure that all workers are operating within a safe environment.
With the advancement of virtual reality across multiple industries, the construction sector can also benefit from this technology to promote worker safety. In particular, VR is being used to train workers on machine operation (operating cranes, forklifts, excavators, etc.) and safety precautions in case of an emergency.
VR allows workers to immerse themselves into a realistic, simulated environment where they can be trained to make safer decisions while at work.
Wearables are another effective technology preventing accidents related to the ‘fatal four’. A wearable is any safety device or clothing that helps keep workers safe. It may be as simple as a smartwatch that tracks employee location and vital signs in real time, or as complex as a smart vest that features an airbag collar to cushion workers against falls.
Wearables also include hard hats that trap solar energy to power the safety features embedded within a worker’s clothing. Through the use of sensors and GPS devices, wearables make it easier to locate workers in the event of an accident and to transmit vital information in real time.
As you can see, technology is continuing to play an important role in transforming our industry for the better. Construction technologies like Cubit, our natural estimating software, are allowing companies of all sizes to grow through more efficient and effective processes. To see how you can drive a better worksite with estimating software, get a free trial of Cubit today.By David Cartwright
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