Workplace injuries cost the U.S. economy an estimated $220 billion each year. Fortunately, new equipment, new technologies, and new clothing are making working in the industry safer. In 2018, a major construction industry trend has been the increased use of safety wearables to improve worker safety. This trend will likely continue into 2019 and beyond.
Construction safety wearables combine technology with everyday construction clothing. These products can identify worksite hazards and speed up response time when injuries occur. For example, placing sensors in a worker’s helmet can detect exposure to poisonous gas. Sensors can also detect worker conditions such as heat stroke, and automatically alert a supervisor.
In the construction industry, radio-frequency identification (RFID) tags are often used to track the location of job site equipment. Now they are also being used in safety wearables. Placing RFID tags in construction clothing makes it possible to track the location of workers. When someone gets injured, managers can respond faster by knowing the exact location of the worker. RFID tags are especially useful for very large job sites with a big workforce.
Other benefits of construction safety wearables include:
- -Track unsafe behaviors, such as workers jumping into a pit instead of using a ladder
- -Alert managers to slip, trip, and fall incidents when a worker is knocked unconscious
- -Make it easier to quickly evacuate large work sites when necessary
- -Encourage workers to adopt habits that improve long-term safety
- -Auto tracking of worker time and attendance
Construction safety wearables can also track the use of personal protection equipment, or PPE. PPEs include low-tech safety items such as gloves, eye goggles, and ear muffs. These products help improve safety, but they can’t transmit data about the wearers. Wearable safety equipment can track what type of PPEs a worker is wearing and for how long. They can also tell when workers enter and leave a work zone that requires wearing PPE.
High-Tech Wearables – The New Construction Industry Trend
High-tech wearables that can monitor and send information via Wi-Fi are becoming a fast-growing construction industry trend. These include:
- -Smart Work Boots. One of the newest safety wearables is “smart” works boots. Their main benefit is the ability to connect to Wi-Fi and send GPS coordinates on the worker wearing them. They can also include motion sensors, RFID tags to provide workflow information. Some come with lighting to improve situational awareness for the wearer.
Smart boots are especially useful for high-risk workers and emergency first responders. They help improve safety by alerting workers to job site hazards and unsafe working conditions. They can monitor and report falls, fatigue and other signs of worker distress. Smart boots can even help improve compliance with industry regulations and company safety protocols. They do this by providing real-time data for incident reports.
- -Heated Jackets. These have been around for a while. But technology has improved a lot over the past few years. New smart wearable jackets are lighter and more comfortable to wear. Many now offer adjustable heat settings. The battery packs can last up to eight hours or more. This reduces the chances of running out of power in a remote location. Jackets made with rechargeable Lithium-Ion batteries can be charged in a vehicle. As a result, employees can now work more comfortably at cold work sites.
- -Cooling Vests. Heat stroke is a common and very dangerous result of working in extremely high heat. Cooling vests use a fluid cooling system to help control body temperature so workers don’t overheat. Ice water is stored in a bladder, which is usually worn on the back. The water is then pumped through cooling tubes to keep the wearer from overheating. Newer cooling vests are using battery-powered fans to provide personal air conditioning.
- -Smart Caps. Fatigue is a major factor in many workplace injuries. Smart caps improve safety by measuring the wearer’s brain waves to monitor fatigue. This helps prevent “micro-sleeps,” whereby workers fall asleep on the job. The smart cap uses vibrations and noise to keep the worker alert and/or stop what they’re doing. It also lets supervisors know when a worker falls asleep. That way they can take appropriate action, such as removing the tired worker from the job.
- -Sensor Clips. These small sensor devices are worn to track worker time, attendance, location, and safety. They detect when and where workers arrive at a site. They quickly notify supervisors if a worker falls. Workers can remotely report an injury to themselves by pushing a button on the device. Sensor clips can also send alerts to all workers if a site evacuation is needed.
Enhance Safety With OSHA Certified Training
Construction safety equipment and clothing are improving by leaps and bounds. But no wearable technology can replace the need for safety guidelines and training. This is especially true when operating forklifts, aerial lifts, and other large equipment.
Why take a risk when aerial lift training is so easy and affordable? Get your workforce OSHA certified on aerials today!