In 1919, a man by the name of Edward Bullard invented a construction safety product that would become the ultimate symbol of the industry: The hard hat.
Inspired by helmets he’d worn as a soldier in World War I, he manufactured it from boiled canvas, glue, and black paint and called it the “hard-boiled hat.” It was designed to protect workers from falling objects, and it was so effective it eventually became industry-standard.
Over time, Bullard’s company added a suspension harness and other features, and the “hard-boiled hat” evolved into the brightly colored “hard hats” construction workers still wear today.
In the following couple of decades, additional construction safety products joined the hard hat as essential gear: Gloves, safety vest, steel-toed boots.
But then, for fifty years, not much changed in the world of construction safety products. Construction, though safer than it was a hundred years ago, remained one of the most dangerous industries in the world.
How Construction Safety Products are Changing The Game
In the past five years, the industry has exploded with innovative construction safety products. Early adopters of these technologies have profoundly changed the game. They’ve substantially improved EMR in construction, decreased incident response times, and increased overall worker safety. Some leading companies boast a “zero incident” culture and safety records that make their job sites some of the safest places to work in the world.
Here are the 3 latest construction safety products you need to know about for the sake of your workers and your company.
1. Triax Wearables and Sensors
Triax's Spot-r senses when a worker experiences a slip, trip, or fall incident, and sends real-time notifications.
The Spot-r platform from Triax Technologies makes it easy to see where every worker is on your job site, and to know immediately when an incident or hazard is identified. It also provides a new and better way to issue evacuation orders.
Spot-r consists of a connected network of wearable clips. The Spot-r Clip attaches to each worker’s belt and automatically connects to the Spot-r network when each worker arrives on site. It automates time and attendance, and identifies general worker location by floor and zone.
The device detects falls, and sends immediate notifications to supervisors. In a test at a Gilbane project site in Fairfield, CT in 2018, Spot-r improved injury response times by up to 91%.
Additionally, the Spot-r EvacTag was named Occupational Health & Safety Magazine’s 2018 New Product of the Year in the Emergency Response category for enabling fast and safe jobsite evacuations in an emergency.
“EvacTag’s flashing, high-decibel construction-specific alarms have been shown to reduce evacuation times by 72% when compared to traditional air horn methods,” says Lori Peters, Vice President of Marketing for Triax.
Triax also announced a long list of enhancements to their product this year that not only improve safety, but also relieve workers of repetitive administrative tasks.
“These enhancements reflect a groundswell of valuable data coming off the jobsite industry-wide,” says Peters. “As more data is collected, and more resources are put in place to support it, reporting and data analytics tools will continue to be of the utmost importance for safety innovations.”
2. Smartvid.io Artificial Intelligence
Smartvid.io uses AI to identify and tag safety hazards in real time.
Once upon a time, “artificial intelligence” (AI) was science fiction. Now it’s a very real technology with practical applications for construction.
The Smartvid.io platform uses AI and machine learning in construction to identify and tag safety hazards in real time based on visual information already coming out of the job site.
The platform integrates with data platforms already in use such as Autodesk’s BIM 360, and automatically pulls photos and videos for analysis. Any time a worker snaps a shot of an issue, takes video of completed work, or otherwise submits visual information to the database, Smartvid.io grabs it and analyzes it for safety hazards such as missing PPE, fall hazards, missing guardrails, and much more.
The technology is as smart as its name implies. So smart, in fact, that it outperforms humans both on speed and accuracy in identifying hazards. In one casual test, workers posed a photo to see if the technology would identify their missing gloves. Smartvid.io not only recognized the intentional “safety violation,” it tagged more than a dozen additional hazards in the background of the photo that the workers had not noticed.
Smartvid.io sends real-time notifications of hazards and violations, and provides users with the ability to generate historical reports to identify problem areas and trends, and to improve safety culture. It is rapidly changing our ability to ensure compliance and maintain job site safety.
3. Leica Distance Scanning
Leica makes portable laser scanners that combine 3D technology and photography to produce a full 3D map of a jobsite.
What’s safer than a worker wearing PPE? A worker sitting in an office.
Distance scanning technology is quickly eliminating many of the most dangerous job site planning and inspection tasks and moving them to the safety of the office environment. Leica Geosystems is at the head of the pack with a line of distance scanning products that are easy to use and highly effective.
The Leica BLK360 is “a portable laser scanner that combines 3D point cloud technology with panoramic photography to produce a full 3D representation with precision measurements, full color rendering, and even thermal imaging,” according to their site. It allows workers in the office to perform inspections and planning activities that traditionally would require a potentially hazardous site visit. Additionally, its speed and distance capabilities reduce field workers’ interactions with potentially hazardous site conditions while simultaneously improving efficiency.
“Our scanners can measure from up to 2000 feet away,” says Christine Grahl, a Marketing Manager for Leica Geosystems. “Our Pegasus Model is a mobile mapping system that’s in the form of a backpack with sensors, cameras, and an IMU for positioning that allows you to capture a full 3D representation of the site while simply walking through.”
Laser scanners can be mounted on UAVs (drones) to provide access to even more difficult-to-reach areas. In many cases, this can eliminate the need for scaffolding and other safety features, by eliminating the need for workers to enter hazardous areas to begin with.
Construction safety products have come a long way in 100 years, and much of that distance has been covered in the past five. If your company’s safety record is lagging, or if you’re simply committed to making your job site the safest it can be, you can’t afford not to know the latest innovations.