Wearable Tech could help you stay compliant and productive during Covid-19

Responsible contractors across the UK have been innovative in deploying one way systems, new cleaning regimes, split-shifts and added supervision to get their sites open again. With coronavirus here for the foreseeable and the threat of future waves on every corporate risk register, the challenge is now shifting from getting construction sites live to keeping them operational by staying safe and productive in the months ahead.

Wearable technology from Finland is already helping UK contractors to not only comply with government safe working guidelines, but also to gain useful insights from site data to track, audit and manage resources.

Within a private site network, cheap wearable tags provide accurate location data for people, plant and equipment on site. This real time monitoring approach provides immediate proximity alerts when distancing rules have been breached or exposure limits exceeded. Unlike other tracking systems which tell you position ‘right now’, AIFORSITE technology tracks throughout the shift to provide a useful ‘snail trail’ of who met whom, for how long and illustrates congestion hotspots as shown in Figure 1 & 2.

Government guidance for employers in England states “where the social distancing guidelines cannot be followed in full in relation to a particular activity, businesses should consider whether that activity needs to continue for the business to continue to operate, and, if so, take all the mitigating actions possible to reduce the risk of transmission between staff”.

Figure 1 - Congestion Hotspots need removing or controlling under UK SOP guidelines.

Worth noting that if a site is not consistently implementing the measures set out by the Government, it may be subject to enforcement action.

Construction sites of any size that are operating during the Coronavirus Covid-19 pandemic will therefore need to ensure

Figure 2 - Track & Trace ‘snail trail’ records.

To implement the Government’s social distancing recommendation, the Construction Leadership Council has now published Site Operating Procedures (SOP), version 4 at time of writing, and this comes with a clear hierarchy of controls.

Let us examine this hierarchy and how wearable tech data could be doing the tough monitoring job for you.

  1. Eliminate: Track and trace workforce.  Remove those with symptoms and exposure.   Provide safe and secure return to work controls with full quarantine history.
  2. Reduce: Identify, remove or reduce congestion hotspots.  Reduce frequency of interaction.
  3. Isolate: Define working bubbles, keep workforce in the same teams/pods, promote & manage social distance with alerts.
  4. Control:   Monitor exposure, prove < 15min limits and increase remote supervision economically.  Prove your safe system of work is effective, even when your back is turned.
  5. PPE: Use appropriate kit to best protect your workforce.

With site data from wearables, you can prove today to the HSE, your client, your customers, your workforce and your supply chain that your site has deployed a comprehensive yet reasonable and practicable safe system of work to meet and exceed these new SOP guidelines.

Can we not rely on behavioural safety alone?  Worker engagement levels are better today, but normal human behaviour means that we can predict a reduction in compliance around social distancing rules over time as people grow apathetic to the invisible hazard, without ongoing costly supervision.  At this point occupational health breaches threaten site closures again, but wearable technology will continue to provide the monitoring, controls and promote positive and compliant behaviours. It is noticeable that sites with better monitoring routines have better safety behaviours.  So it’s time to tool-up, to connect your supervisors and project leaders allowing them to be effective in more than one place at one time.

In summary, wearable tech, Internet of Things (IoT) sensors, remote monitoring/surveillance and Artificial Intelligence (AI) are undoubtedly set to play a big role in the construction industry with stagnant productivity levels.  This technology has transformed other sectors such as agriculture and manufacturing already, and it arrives at the door of the construction sector with an already mature, plug and play offering ready to connect board rooms to their live site performance metrics like never before.  Today, the opportunity to track, audit and manage social distancing and keep sites open is perhaps just the low hanging fruit, but if it means sites Keep Safe & Keep Productive it will certainly be the juiciest.

Rapid-DBS is the sole UK reseller and service provider for AIFORSITE.  Contact us on 01245 808258 for assistance.  Let’s Keep Safe and Keep Productive.