Grantt Bedford, Director–Safety, Environment & Quality for the United States, Eni
Ensuring worker safety on the job is of the utmost importance, however; the lone worker and the remote worker are becoming the focus of exciting technological advances. Usually, when talking about technology in business, it is to improve operational performance and productivity, but more and more, technology for the safety of the independent worker is gaining importance because of new regulations from the government, unions, and other stakeholders. New sophisticated devices have given employers insight into what technology can do to improve workplace safety. Smart networks and smart personal protective equipment (PPE), lone worker monitoring systems, and gas detection devices are just a few ways technology is improving worker safety. These new devices offer real-time communication that improves the safety of individuals working alone. Below are some highlights about each of these advances in safety for the remote worker.
Smart Network and Smart PPE:
A Smart Network is installed in the workplace with notification sensors placed throughout the work areas. The sensors read data from the smart PPE when it is detected. The objective is to transfer the data from the smart PPE to the smart software platform to identify proper/improper use of PPE and send notifications to the worker and supervisors in real-time allowing for correction if necessary. For example, if a worker forgets to wear their hard-hat in a hardhat zone, their smart PPE will notify them and the control room. This allows for real-time corrective action. This system can also restrict access to hazardous areas that require proper authorization.
Technology on the job has enriched safety for the lone worker. It gives the worker the correct tools for real-time data collection and faster, life-saving reaction times to emergencies
Lone Worker Monitoring:
When an emergency happens, employers need to be able to locate their lone workers to ensure their safety. Until recently, lone worker detectors only alerted those within a limited area of the incident, leaving the victim without help until someone comes looking. New technology has improved detectors and can give real-time safety and alert status of workers in the field on a live map. For instance, if a remote worker suffers a heart attack and becomes incapacitated, the detector gives the precise location of the individual allowing for emergency responders to react.
Gas Detection Devices:
New gas detection devices continuously stream real-time safety data for monitoring. These devices can send gas testing and calibration data to the smart software platform for real-time compliance, visibility, and reporting. For example, if a lone worker is in a hazardous area and they have a high alarm from the device, it will notify the control room that the worker is in a dangerous situation. The smart software platform also identifies the number and type of alerts by the device to understand when and where incidents, compliance issues, or connectivity interruptions are occurring.
Technology on the job has enriched safety for the lone worker. It gives the worker the correct tools for real-time data collection and faster, life-saving reaction times to emergencies. Smart networks and smart PPE, lone worker monitoring systems, and gas detection devices have become essential modern tools for improving safety. Technological advances today, and those sure to come tomorrow, are creating workplace environments filled with advanced communications between management and workers that are generating a more productive and competent worker that is, above all else, safe in the workplace.