Falls remain the leading cause of death in construction, and painting contractors are among those cited in recent fatality statistics. In its fall prevention education campaign, OSHA encourages contractors to use the right equipment—and that might include the use of wearable technology.
Among the latest wearables to watch is an Internet of Things (IoT)-enabled system designed by Norwalk, Conn.-based Triax Technologies Inc. to speed reporting of slips, trips and fall incidents on the jobsite, and perhaps provide an early warning of dangerous conditions.
The spot-r system is made up of a lightweight wearable sensor clipped on the belt that sends out automated alerts in the event of a slip, trip and fall incident. The information is relayed in real-time to a dashboard managed by on-site safety personnel.
The sensor also features a panic button that a worker can press to indicate that they need assistance, and an evacuation alert that can be triggered via the dashboard to instantly alert workers to clear an unsafe site.
Chad Hollingsworth, co-founder and president of Triax Technologies, notes that as adoption of the new sensor has ramped up in the months since its introduction, unexpected uses have been seen that could provide new levels of fall prevention.
“For example, we were on a site where workers were jumping into a pit to put in rebar for concrete and it kept showing up as minor falls. They should have been using a ladder,” Hollingsworth says. By rapidly responding to the alert, the site safety manager was able to come on scene and prevent an injury before it happened.
Hollingsworth says the device has been generally welcomed by employees who are introduced to it as a part of a safety initiative that empowers them to report. The sensor is also being seen by savvy business owners as a potential opportunity for reducing insurance costs.
“We’ve been having lots of discussion with the insurance industry and I think there’s going to be a way to get some insurance savings for technology like this in the near future,” Hollingsworth says.
The device, and others like it, also serve as a tangible reminder of a company’s safety culture. The tech investment could provide its greatest value without ever being activated, simply by reminding workers to follow the safest possible procedures on every job site.
“It’s that human nature, if I know I have a sensor on me, to look more closely at slips, trips, falls—or jumps—on site, to naturally be safer because you know someone is looking out for you. That is going to lead to safer behavior and safer sites,” Hollingsworth says.