In the realm of industrial construction and maintenance, ensuring the safety of people is paramount. That’s why the month of June is recognized as National Safety Month, spotlighting all the best safety practices to emphasize the wellbeing of workplace safety.
While we have made great strides as an industry in improving worker safety, according to Safety + Health Magazine, construction workers still have a 1-in-200 chance of being fatally injured on the job over the course of a 45-year career.
Fortunately, advancements in technology are creating a laundry list of new (and effective) ways to protect workers in dangerous environments. In this article, we’ll explore some of the top ways to keep workers safe in industrial construction and maintenance environments. Let’s dive into the future of worker safety.
1. Drones for aerial inspections
Drones have emerged as valuable tools for conducting aerial inspections of industrial sites. Equipped with high-resolution cameras and sensors, drones can safely navigate hard-to-reach areas, capturing detailed imagery for inspection purposes.
This eliminates the need for manual inspections, reducing the risk of falls and exposure to hazardous conditions. It can also provide extensive data to use for analysis and future decision-making.
2. IoT and connected devices
IoT devices, such as Bluetooth-enabled tools, can capture data that has historically remained offline. In industrial environments, this can be a gamechanger for ensuring both safety and quality. For example, a Bluetooth torque wrench can upload data to the cloud on the exact torque value that was applied to a bolt. This prevents leaks and rework, a major safety hazard for frontline workers.
It’s ironic, because many an article has been written about the death of IIoT (the industrial Internet of Things). However, we’re happy to report that IIoT is alive and well and is being used to bring transparency to manual work activities, such as welding and pressure testing, at companies around the globe.
3. Wearable PPE technology
Wearable PPE devices, such as smart helmets, vests, and glasses, have been growing in popularity in industrial settings. These devices can monitor vital signs, detect potential hazards, and provide real-time alerts.
For example, smart helmets equipped with sensors can measure biometrics, detect fatigue, and issue warnings to prevent accidents. Similarly, smart vests with integrated GPS and communication capabilities can track worker locations, ensuring their safety and enabling rapid response in emergencies.
4. AR and VR training simulations
While some argue that AR and VR aren’t feasible in field environments, they can offer a safe training alternative that offers immersive experiences and prepares workers for what to expect in the field. These technologies allow workers to practice complex tasks and emergency scenarios without the associated risks.
By providing realistic and interactive training, AR and VR simulations improve worker preparedness, reduce errors, and promote better safety practices.
5. Proximity sensors and real-time monitoring systems
Real-time monitoring systems employ sensors, cameras, and advanced analytics to continuously monitor industrial environments. These systems can detect dangers in working zones by identifying anomalies, monitoring air quality, flagging potential hazards, and providing early warnings to workers and supervisors.
By proactively identifying safety concerns, real-time monitoring systems allow for swift corrective actions, minimizing the risk of accidents and injuries.
6. AI, AI, and more AI
AI is all the buzz these days. But can it actually be used in industrial environments to deliver real results? The short answer is YES. AI can analyze vast amounts of data to identify patterns, predict potential hazards, and recommend preventive measures. It can also help digitize and create workflows for standard operating procedures, as well as answer questions in real-time about what is happening in the field.
All of this can be hugely beneficial in promoting worker safety, simply because it brings so much transparency to what is actually happening in the field. After all, if a supervisor doesn’t know that a safety violation is even happening, they’ll be hard-pressed to fix it.
Check out our blog post on the 5 ways that facility mangers can start using AI for more info.
7. Mobile apps
It might not sound like a ground-breaking technology, but it most certainly is. As recently as a decade ago, mobile apps were even seen as a no-no in industrial environments. Today, they serve as invaluable tools for delivering safety training materials and facilitating communication among workers.
One easy way to start using mobile apps is by using a digital workflow app to guide workers with step-by-step instructions. You can also require various data checkpoints where the worker must take photos of their work and answer a safety checklist.
Industrial construction and maintenance has seen significant progress in ensuring worker safety. However, the statistics remind us that there is still work to be done to minimize risks and protect those on the job.
As we commemorate National Safety Month, it is vital to recognize the immense impact these innovative technologies have had on worker safety in industrial construction and maintenance. By embracing these advancements and continuing to prioritize safety, we can build a future where workers are protected, accidents are minimized, and the industry thrives.