Here’s something that’s sure to cause a buzz in the construction industry: wearable tech outfitted with vibration technology to help steer workers clear of hazards on the project site. This new technology is designed to decrease the number of struck-by and caught-between injuries and incidents, which have garnered quite a bit of notoriety for being two of OSHA’s “Fatal Four.”
Needless to say, the construction industry can be a loud and distracting place, which makes audible cues less effective for communicating the presence of hazards. On the other hand, tactile cues, such as a vibration, can be felt regardless of how much noise is present on the project site. The technology, which was just released in November 2019, utilizes waist belts with motors that vibrate when potential hazards are detected nearby. Although it may seem simple on the surface, this technology could be extremely useful for contractors who want to cut down on the number of citations they are receiving from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). In this article, the OSHA attorneys at Cotney Construction Law will discuss how vibration technology keeps workers safe and why all contractors should be paying attention.
Intensity and Duration
The key to this technology is the ability to send a signal that is both intense and long-lasting. In other words, a signal that can be felt even when a worker is distracted. When heavy machinery is operating nearby, it will likely be loud and shake the ground. Subtle vibrations will likely be imperceptible, but strong, long-lasting vibrations will not have the same problem. By ensuring that the intensity and duration of the signal is sufficient, workers can be on alert at all times.
There is a lot of potential for this technology in the future. Can you imagine a “language” of vibrations that accurately details surrounding hazards? For example, a single, five-second buzz for heavy, stationary machinery, or a pulsating buzz for objects that are on the move in the worker’s vicinity. As this technology continues to develop, a tactile language will likely be established as well. Of course, this would require additional training. But can you imagine the possibilities?
What’s really nifty about this technology is the startling accuracy of the system, which was developed at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Participants testing the technology were able to determine the location of potential hazards with 95 percent accuracy. By the way, they were blindfolded!
Related: Assessing Workplace Hazards
Contractors can expect to see more vibration technology in 2020. Not only is the technology affordable (~$50 per belt), but it’s also highly effective. And most importantly, it addresses a very real issue in the construction industry that continues to take a toll on construction companies. To learn more about integrating new technology into your team’s personal protective equipment (PPE), consult our OSHA lawyers.
Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for general educational information only. This information does not constitute legal advice, is not intended to constitute legal advice, nor should it be relied upon as legal advice for your specific factual pattern or situation.