Let’s talk safety for a minute here. It is so impressive that safety is perhaps one of the greatest core values of many of the construction companies across the country. This certainly has been an evolution, of sorts, throughout the past century—but, quite frankly, we are only just getting started.
The opportunities for technology to help create a safer working environment are vast. Here are just a few examples that we are seeing in the market today.
Tech to address distracted driving: We would be remiss if we didn’t mention Distracted Driving Awareness Month. While the National Safety Council targets distracted driving awareness among all drivers in the month of April, this certainly applies to construction drivers as well.
It is a topic that is near and dear to Peggy Smedley’s heart—and if you haven’t popped over to Connected World or The Peggy Smedley Show, take a look or a listen now. There is a plethora of technology aimed at reducing distracted driving. It is needed too. Every day, at least nine Americans die and 100 are injured in distracted-driving crashes. It is a big area that can be addressed to reduce injuries and fatalities.
Digging into data: Information gathered via the IoT (Internet of Things), analytics, and AI (artificial intelligence) could perhaps be the key to helping improve safety on construction projects.
Consider this example. The mining and rock excavation industry is facing the challenge of increasing the global supply of minerals to meet the needs and expectations of a rising world population. As a result, workers need to extract from greater depths, naturally in environments that are often more hazardous. Technology can help.
For instance, Sandvik and IBM have jointly created a platform to be able to comply with the stringent reliability and security requirements of mining operations, which taps into predictive maintenance technology and IoT sensor data. Leveraging the analytics capabilities from IBM Watson IoT, OptiMine Analytics allows companies to combine equipment and application data from disparate sources and analyze patterns in the data to improve availability, utilization, and performance—while also heightening safety.
While this is only one example. Analyzing data and applying best practices is the foundation of improving safety on a construction jobsite.
Wearables for workers: There has been a lot of talk about the impact of wearables on safety at the construction jobsite. Some say they are a distraction and could actually hinder safety, while others indicate that used correctly they can actually heighten safety.
One wearable that can improve safety that is beginning to gain momentum in construction is exoskeleton technologies. Most recently, suitX launched the third-generation wearable shoulder-supporting exoskeleton, which augments the wearer by reducing forces at the shoulder. The result is reduced injuries and increased workplace productivity.
This touches on one of the fundamental factors for construction. If workers are safe—aided by technology—they can get their work done more efficiently and return home to their families every night. It is a win-win for all involved.