We have a lot of safety rules in construction and it’s practically impossible to monitor your job site for compliance of every single rule. To complicate matters, many rules are based upon exposure limits, especially when airborne particles are involved. OSHA recently reduced the allowable exposure limit of silica dust, which is found in concrete, stone, and brick, before additional PPE or engineering controls are required. This rule change has caused a lot of grief among construction industry groups, who called the rule technologically infeasible, because what contractor is really set up to measure when 50 micrograms of silica dust per cubic meter of air is actually reached?
One UK tech company believes that they have the solution to the industry’s problem, with a product called SmartSIte. Not only can it measure particulate exposure, it also measures UV radiation and noise levels. All you have to do is set up the cylinder on site, which looks a lot like a small hazardous waste canister that you’d find in a comic book, and the tool gathers data in the background. Better yet, the program will actually alert the workers in the area of impending exposure limits, so that they can take action before the limits are reached. It also monitors individual worker presence in the area through the use of a small worker ID card.
Smartsite is currently in beta testing and plans to start shipping the product in early 2017. No pricing information has been released yet. As far as health and safety of construction workers goes, this looks to be an extremely promising product. For the first time, construction companies will be able to gather and analyze data to truly take worker safety in the realm of dust and noise exposure seriously. It will take the guess work out of PPE use and, hopefully, limit the long term health effects of our important labor force. By being able to show workers how much they’re potentially damaging their body, it will make it so much easier to convince them to actually put on the safety gear, which can be uncomfortable and annoying at times.
The SmartsSite technology isn’t the only technology product that’s going to make our job sites safer, either. Virginia Tech is developing a smart safety vest which will alert workers if an object is approaching too quickly (like a vehicle), CAT has developed software that can determine the fatigue of heavy equipment operators, and even hard hats are getting smarter with the DAQRI augmented reality smart helmet.
Check out the video below which gives an overview of SmartSite.