written by
Hope Perez

Ways the Internet of Things is Transforming Construction Safety

5 min read

The Internet of Things (IoT) is rapidly transforming every industry, as it merges our physical and digital worlds. With the prevalence of wireless networks and affordable digital chips, almost any object can be turned into a smart, responsive device.

In the construction industry, the IoT is referred to as telematics. Construction telematics systems provide thorough information regarding equipment and vehicles. It provides companies with accurate, real-time data surrounding machine use and performance. This enables companies to identify inefficiencies and mismanagement.

Construction telematics falls into on-road and off-road categories, delivering specific benefits to each. Combined, they facilitate significant improvements in driver and operator safety. Increased safety and smarter workflows lead to enhanced reliability, reduced expenses, and elevated service in the construction industry.

With increased adoption, telematics is transforming the construction industry and its safety management. This guide highlights why it is imperative for all construction companies to adopt new safety technology, and how to do so.

construction safety
Source: Shutterstock

Site Monitoring

While the technology to remotely monitor construction and building site progress isn’t new, many companies failed to adopt this technology until pressed to do so by restrictive, pandemic-related on-site work regulations. Remote construction monitoring allows employees who are not physically present to monitor projects with a range of tools. These tools allow managers to check project progress, track contractor activity with automated sensors, detect theft, monitor dangerous activity and missing PPE, as well as check the use of machines, geolocate equipment, and receive repair alerts.

By using one, or a combination of these tools, project managers can conduct checks, provide feedback, and solve problems from the office. The benefits are plentiful, from improving productivity and time management to reducing theft, loss, and waste. Even insurance approvals are expedited, as insurers have greater confidence in projects with asset/equipment monitoring.

Cameras and sensors detect safety hazards, over-heating equipment, and health and safety violations. Unlike people who are subject to human error, digital monitors never sleep—therefore eliminating these errors and enhancing monitoring capacity.

Remote Operation

Across American industries, 5333 workers died on the job in 2019. The construction industry accounted for a jarring 20% of these deaths. Besides machinery and construction equipment often needing to be used in places that pose safety hazards, some of the most common construction site injuries are caused by manhandled and malfunctioning equipment.

Among a range of other safety benefits, mobile apps have been designed to reduce risk factors associated with heavy machinery operations. Aerial lifts, scissor lifts, and telehandlers can be operated remotely with an intuitive user interface. Operators can also remotely alert on-site workers when the machine is operating nearby, in real-time.

Users can scan a machine’s safety decals to obtain current industry standard requirements and information. These factors don’t only improve safety but reduce potential damage to the working environment.

Augmented reality (AR) apps allow users to see an overlay of a machine control panel with functionality details before operating. Three-dimensional machine visualization enables users to virtually move construction materials around obstacles to determine if machines can function properly, before risking actual lives and destruction.

Telehandler operators can also singlehandedly operate an array of priorly two-person jobs, improving efficiency. The ability to remotely control machinery also allows machines to be loaded onto trucks without risking on-site workers’ safety.

Source: Shutterstock

Project Management

Project management software not only delivers a range of benefits to construction companies in terms of reporting, budget tracking, administration, and order management, but it also offers major benefits in process standardization and safety management control. The IoT can be used to track safety-related activities, such as preventive and corrective maintenance schedules.

Project management software provides a standardized, streamlined method of managing projects. Physical documents and correspondence are often scattered, disconnected, and subject to misplacement. Project management software provides a single hub for all documents and a streamlined system for documenting and tracking critical safety issues. It also provides increased document security, shareability, and aids in decision making.

Wearable Safety Devices

Wearable safety devices have come a long way and can play a significant role in construction safety. The IoT has contributed to turning hard hats, glasses, boots, and more into smart devices capable of providing safety information on an employee’s current state and their environment.

Besides smartwatches monitoring heart rate and vitals, some devices can record an electrocardiogram for abnormal heart rhythm detection, or even respiratory distress through blood oxygen saturation levels. Wrist wearables facilitate hands-free communication and can detect falls, alerting site and emergency staff to minimize accident response times. In addition, smart boots can serve as accurate location trackers which improve lone worker safety.

Hard hats can be used in heavy machinery proximity sensing, alerting operators and workers of potential collisions. Smart glasses are being developed to detect and immediately alert teams of hazardous materials.

Sensors and RFID

Radio-frequency identification (RFID) technology is becoming cheaper and more commonly used on construction projects. The tracking technology is not only highly effective in theft management, but also in managing assets and improving on-site safety.

Some companies are installing on-site sensors or readers around potential hazards, which activate alarms to alert workers of dangers (like open elevator shafts or faulty guardrails). RFID readers can alert project managers when workers enter unauthorized areas or places they don’t have the required safety training to be in.

Fall protection manufacturers are starting to use RFID technology to allow location tracking, inspection, and maintenance of on-site fall protection systems for easy relaying of information to regulatory bodies like OSHA and ANSI.

Enhance Safety—Integrate IoT with Salus

Construction safety software is no longer a nice-to-have accessory, but a necessity for top-tier construction safety management. Salus allows you to enhance on-site worker safety while streamlining tracking, reducing costs, and improving productivity with a single tool.

Safety hazards and incidents don’t only affect on-site workers, they affect everything from order management and budgets to project management, schedules, and administrative requirements. Salus simplifies the entire construction process and transforms construction safety management. Schedule a demo to discover how Salus can revolutionize every aspect of your company’s construction, administrative, and safety management, today!