How to Make Construction Workers Safe with Wearable Technology

An insulation installer wearing safety hard hat

With new technology such as the smart, wearable watch, construction workers can track their health stats. These developments in construction worker safety wearables have been helping to keep employees safer. With the many risks associated with construction projects and sites, organizations such as Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) have worked to implement policies and encourage the use of safety gear, including wearable devices using innovative technology. These and other advances help protect construction workers from serious injuries.

New Technology Like a Smart, Wearable Watch Helps a Construction Worker Stay Safe

The following are some specific construction safety wearables that may be the key to keeping construction workers safe.

Smartwatches

Smartwatches are becoming increasingly popular among regular consumers and seeing increased use among construction workers. Construction workers can use smartwatches such as Apple Watches and FitBits to perform several tasks.

For instance, construction workers can monitor their daily health and activity to determine if they're experiencing overexertion. Additionally, the devices can detect falls and automatically alert emergency or site personnel in the event of an accidental fall. Construction sites often require the use of hands-free devices for communication. These are available in the form of smartwatches with hands-free communication capabilities.

Smart Hard Hats

In addition to smartwatches, smart hard hats can help keep construction workers safe. Although hard hats have already helped prevent many work-related injuries, innovative technologies are enhancing them with new capabilities. Sensors within hard hats can help monitor workers and keep them fully functioning on the job.

Through the use of a sensor, hard hats will be able to detect fatigue in the wearer and indicate when it's time to go on break. In addition, the hard hat can predict when workers are about to fall asleep beforehand, preventing workers from falling asleep on the job. Proximity sensing will also detect workers, equipment, and pedestrians nearby to help prevent collisions.

While these technologies are still in development, they're likely to be deployed in the near future.

Innovative Body Wear

Some construction wearables include gear that construction workers can wear all over the body. Using these wearable and powerful sensors, body wear would be able to track heat and let workers know when to take a break out of the sun or consume water to prevent dehydration. Other sensors could detect dangerous gases and alert workers to protect them from exposure. Some “exoskeleton” technologies would also help prevent workers from experiencing muscle fatigue when handling tools or lifting heavy items.

Smart Boots

Construction workers' boots are about to become a lot more capable with the introduction of new developments. Using wearable technology, boots can detect pressure and location in several ways.

For example, sensors in the sole of the boot would be able to detect certain shocks or falls and immediately notify site managers or emergency services. These boots would also be able to track the worker's location with unmatched precision and accuracy, which can help site managers keep track of all workers and alert workers if they're in unsafe areas. Built-in charging could also enable these smart boots to charge themselves as workers move in them, eliminating the need to recharge them at any point throughout a shift.

AR Glasses

Augmented reality is making waves in many industries and for the average consumer, but it's also quickly becoming an invaluable asset for construction workers. Smart glasses with AR technology would be able to overlay digital information in real-world settings, essentially enhancing reality with more data. These goggles would, in turn, not only provide physical protection but would also be able to keep workers more aware of their surroundings in the workplace.

One advantage of using smart glasses in construction sites would be to detect leading edges, which could help prevent falls by alerting workers when they're close to a ledge. These goggles could also detect certain hazardous materials and visually alert the user of them. Managers could even upload safety protocols for workers to follow, as the goggles remind them of specific protocols based on the equipment they're using or their location.

How to Make Construction Workers Safe with Wearable Technology

Through the use of these and other possible developments in safety wearables, construction workers can more effectively avoid construction accidents. With innovations that provide alerts when workers are in danger along with notification of certain personnel, workers can benefit from an overall safer work environment. Subsequently, construction-related accidents are likely to see a notable decrease in the coming years as technology assists these workers.

However, while these technologies are on the way and can help protect employees and pedestrians, managers will still need to do what they can to create a generally safer workspace with the right protocols and physical safety gear. When these technologies roll out, they'll be able to supplement employers' efforts.

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For the past 15 years Mr. Pothitakis has focused his practice on Workers Compensation and Personal Injury Cases. The firm has two locations, one being in Burlington, Iowa and the other in Keokuk, Iowa. Mr. Pothitakis works with many area unions and employee organizations to provide advice, assistance, and guidance as it relates to employment issues. Mr. Pothitakis provides free consultations to those with legal questions in the firm's areas of practice. In this initial meeting or conference potential clients are provided advice on their need for assistance and how they need to proceed.