All the local roadwork and building developments means more potential danger for all of us. The latest technology in construction site safety can help reduce risk for workers as well as pedestrians passing construction site.
You might be wondering if Woodfield Road construction will ever be completed — it’s been going on for years in Schaumburg. A lot of risks are associated with end loaders and tractors darting in and out of lanes, and lane configuration changes. There are also construction projects in the works for Arlington Heights, including a residential development at Chestnut Avenue and Sigwalt Street, and a buildout for a new Amazon warehouse on the north side of town. Avoiding accidents at such busy locations can be tough for both workers and passers-by; but the latest safety technology in construction site safety is making a difference.
More commuters depend on apps such as Waze and Google Maps to alert them of road construction and accidents, which gives them much more time to slow their speed than spotting a sign ahead. And the technology is improving so that drivers can get the details in real-time. GPS apps improve construction safety by tracking workers wherever they are, and they’re finally developing techniques that will even work underground. Although no perfected, COVID-19 tracing apps are mainstream now, which is good news for workers who share tools, and work in enclosed environments.
Pedestrians often don’t realize the the danger they’re near when walking by a construction site. Even a home re-modeling construction project can expose passing pedestrians to hazards. A couple of years ago a pedestrian walking on the sidewalk along Dryden Avenue near Frederick Street — across from St. Viator High School — was nearly hit by a heavy brick that was tossed by a careless construction worker during some demolition work. The brick missed the dumpster in front of the house, and almost hit the pedestrian in the head. Workers already benefit from sensors mounted across construction sites that monitor temperature, noise, dust, and volatile compounds. Before, sensors couldn’t be installed on heavy machinery because it involved hazardous wires. But recent wireless technology means that even if machinery operators don’t see pedestrians, sensors can detect movement within danger zones. There are also intelligent onboard cameras that can recognize the presence of pedestrians simply by analyzing their shape.
Advances in retroreflectivity, the ability to reflect light back to its source, has enabled the Federal Highway Administration to raise its standards. Workers at road construction sites, who are at particular risk from distracted drivers, can wear safety equipment, such as vests, with the brightest visibility yet. The higher requirements for construction signs mean that headlights are reflected back at cars more effectively and at farther distances, so drivers are more aware and have more time to adjust their speed.
Smart clothing, or e-textiles, can use biometric sensors to monitor a worker’s heart and respiration rate, as well as skin temperature, and even falls. Newly improved wearables receive alarm and light warnings when there’s movement inside geofenced off-limit areas. Safety equipment such as hard hats can include GPS capabilities, Wi-Fi, voltage detectors, and more. With all these new safety measures sewn right into their clothes, workers can expect a decrease in accidents and fatalities—and technology in construction site safety is getting better every day.
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