Shortages in construction labor have been an ongoing problem in the industry for decades. At…
Smart wearables are the latest innovation to catch on in the construction industry. This type of clothing has technology embedded in boots, helmets, vests and other clothing with the goal of increasing safety and preventing costly and debilitating accidents.
Wearables use sensors that can collect data on construction sites. This is then transmitted to both workers and supervisors to alert all concerned to potential hazards on a jobsite. Sensors can measure the height and speed of a fall, and monitor body temperature, blood pressure, and heartbeat rates of workers. The devices can also send signals to construction safety personnel alerting them of on-site accidents.
Wearable technology is making a huge difference in how well construction workers perform their jobs, resulting in improved efficiency and safety on the job site. This minimizes downtime thanks to the ability to track employee movements, which in turn helps management to determine which resources are being productively used and which are being wasted. They are also designed to defend against workplace injury while at the same time be comfortable, including the ability to personalize temperature preferences over a “one-size-fits-all” approach, leading to greater comfort and satisfaction, as well as productivity, among construction workers.
Boots, gloves, headsets, safety glasses, vests, watches, fabrics, and any clothing or equipment that’s wearable are gaining in popularity at construction sites. Here is the latest in smart wearables that promise positive changes in the field:
While safety glasses are already required on most construction sites, XOEye Technologies has invented safety glasses that contain an embedded camera, a projected screen and Wi-Fi access. Combined, these components allow workers to use images in real-time to take measurements and make adjustments, and then send this information to managers off-site. The safety glasses are also equipped with earbuds and two microphones, enabling workers to communicate with each other at a distance. In addition, future safety glasses will alert workers to leading edges that can result in injury and death from falls, detect hazardous materials, and provide visual cues on safety protocols in workplace environments.
Another type of glasses gaining traction are smart glasses capable of changing its transmission properties based on light and heat. This allows the glasses to dim when light is too bright. These glasses are particularly beneficial on construction sites located in sunny areas since impaired vision due to bright sunlight can lead to accidents.
Smart Work Boots
Work boots are already an essential safety equipment on job sites, but smart work boots transform vital safety features into a powerful boot. For example, sensors in the sole of the boot can detect falls or small shocks experienced by a worker and call for help automatically. They also enable supervisors to track the location of an employee working alone and determine if that worker is in an area that’s safe or if the worker has slowed due to fatigue. These boots also have built-in technology in the heel that is designed to charge while walking, ensuring that the boot technology stays fully charged during an entire shift.
In addition, as more and more women enter the construction field, manufacturers are designing smart boots tailor-made for them. These boots are lighter than the male counterpart model, with an almond shaped steel toe cap, making them more comfortable yet functional.
Hard hats are another common essential safety equipment in construction, but new technology could add a sensor band around the inside rim that will be able to detect worker fatigue and microsleep, sending a signal to the worker to take a break. The sensors can also alert employees to proximity sensing to avoid collisions with dangerous equipment.
Motorola Solutions has developed a headset, called the HC1 Headset, that combines the power of a computer with a range of project materials, such as user manuals, project updates and safety warnings. These are generated by sensors, allowing workers vital materials while remaining hands free, thus reducing mistakes and increasing productivity.
Color Changing Gloves
Researchers from the Fraunhofer Research Institute for Modular Solid State Technologies in Germany are working on gloves that will change colors should a worker come in contact with a toxic substance.
Reflective Heated and Cooling Jackets
DeWalt has come out with a reflective heated jacket with battery packs that can keep employees warm in freezing temperatures. Its opposite counterpart is the cooling jacket that uses either a pump that cools liquid through the jacket or has a built-in fan that keeps workers comfortable when temperatures are hot.
Full-Bodied Exoskeleton Suits
In the near future, construction workers might don full body powered exoskeleton suits. These robotic suits will use technology that promises to increase human strength, thereby reducing fatigue while improving the lives of employees.
Safety and Comfort
An additional plus regarding smart wearables is that workers don’t have to exchange comfort for safety. Construction workers already carry a heavy load and the last thing they need is more gear to weight them down. Technology companies have countered this dilemma by adding sensors and other features to equipment that workers are wearing anyway.
As smart wearables become the norm and are constantly improved, they will replace smart versions with already existing clothes and equipment, resulting in increased safety and efficiency. Imburgia Consulting is staying on top of the latest innovations in construction clothing and can advise you on which wearables will benefit your particular project, site and budget.