Fatigue and the construction site do not mix, but unfortunately it happens more than we’d all like. Construction work long and odd hours, with many jobs beginning extremely early in the morning or late at night. Fatigue not only reduces productivity, but it’s a major safety concern, especially with regards to operating heavy machinery. According to the National Sleep Foundation (sounds like a fantastic place to work, I bet they have an amazing worktime nap schedule), yearly estimates for fatigue caused auto accidents average around 100,000, resulting in approximately 1,550 deaths, 71,000 injuries, and $12.5 billion in monetary losses.
To help reduce the risk of fatigue related incidents in the construction industry, Caterpillar has designed a safety system that monitors the facial movements of heavy equipment operators and will alert them if the system determines they are drowsy or distracted.
“Customers have talked to us for many years about what they called ‘unexplained incidents,’ where they try to understand where the safety risks were coming from or what were the root causing of several of these accidents on job sites,” said Dave Edwards, of Caterpillar Safety Services, “they got a hunch that it might have something to do with the operator's ability to drive a machine 24 hours a day and 7 days a week.”
A smart camera mounted in the dashboard of Caterpillar vehicles can watch the facial behaviors and determine if their eyes are open or not. While the system will try to wake the operator up before an accident occurs by using alarms, the program will also alert a safety operator from Caterpillar and they can review video from the smart camera to determine what happened. CAT says this operator is provided to help react to situations much faster, because workers on the job site are typically very busy.
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