While you may think that the construction industry has stayed pretty much the same over the years, with similar systems and processes in place, you would be wrong.
Over the past few decades, technological advances in construction-based systems have completely honed and revolutionised the industry. From greatly enhancing productivity to improving safety measures, technology has – and continues to – play a huge role in the growth of the industry.
But how I hear you ask? Well, that’s what this article is here to look at – in particular, assessing how training and safety have both improved as a result of implementing technological advances.
Augmented & Virtual Reality
Back in 2016, approximately 20% of worker deaths were found to be construction-related incidents, demonstrating just how important effective safety training and measures can be.
Since then, advances in virtual reality (VR) have already started to make a strong impact on lowering this number of deaths, by enabling workers to familiarise themselves with potentially dangerous situations in a perfectly safe virtual environment.
Say, for instance, if a trainee needs to learn how to dismount heavy plastic barriers from the back of a lorry. Using a VR-based system, scenarios can now be produced to teach said trainee the right way to respond, depending on the exact circumstance.
Having already been used for many years by flight schools, medical schools and the military, VR simulators can be utilised in various ways to train workers on how to carry out precise operations – whether that be operating cranes or doing masonry work.
Augmented reality (AR), on the other hand, can greatly improve safety in an entirely different way. Whether it be producing detailed safety plans or providing expert training, there are several different ways in which AR can be utilised within the construction industry.
For example, workers could have augmented safety checklists, specific to each task, pop up on a display integrated into a smart hard hat or safety goggles. This will then remind them to make sure they are wearing to proper personal protective equipment, and carry out any checks required to perform tasks safely. Safety managers can also have the opportunity to monitor exactly what their workers are doing, walking them through tasks whenever they need assistance.
Wearables are pretty much everywhere nowadays and the construction industry is no different; workers are now being fitted with smart tech capable of monitoring their working environment and improving their on-site safety.
The wearables that workers are now being told to wear have a wide array of smart features able to track their movements, repetitive motions and any slips, falls or injuries they might have. These smart devices embed into the personal protective equipment they are already familiar with, meaning using them shouldn’t disrupt their ability to work.
However, that’s not all. The rise of smart clothing in recent years has revolutionised the construction industry in terms of assessing the overall health of workers. Being able to monitor vital signs like respiration rate, skin temperature, and heart rate can make it easy to pinpoint whether a worker is suffering from fatigue or is under the influence of drugs or alcohol. This can then enable safety managers or health professionals to step in before an accident occurs.
As we’ve already mentioned, keeping construction sites as safe as possible is imperative to ensuring the protection of workers. With this in mind, site sensors can now be deployed across construction sites to take measurements of the dust level, the temperature and the noise level, in order to control and prevent potentially harmful exposure.
These sensors can be mounted throughout the entire construction site, immediately alerting workers when they are most at risk of being exposed to potential danger. The sensors then relay the data they record back to the site safety manager, who can then make the necessary changes required to ensure their workers’ safety.
Ensuring the safety of construction workers is absolutely imperative but, thankfully, advances in technology are helping us do just that.
Whether it be through improving on-site safety, training procedures or identifying health-related issues, technology will continue to play a more and more pivotal role in the life and role of a construction worker as time moves on. Watch this space.