Despite social distancing issues, highway construction continues around the world. But for those workers finding it difficult to focus on the job and observe the guidance, help is at hand.
LociLabs and DKN Capital have collaborated to develop a low cost, high tech solution. Known as SafeSpace, this unique social distancing tool is wearable tech that can be clipped onto a belt or worn on the wrist. The device identifies another worker coming within six feet (2m) of the user and uses visual, audible and vibrating alerts to attract their attention.
Lightweight, durable and capable of holding a charge for 12 hours, this innovative social distancing solution has been trialled by Amey and is currently in use by workers in the waste collection, highway and rail sectors. As an early adopter, the infrastructure service support provider is exploring the potential for the use of SafeSpace across all its operations.
Innovation in social distancing
SafeSpace isn't the only innovative social distancing tool around. UK startup Lanterne has launched social distancing app Crowdless which allows users to monitor the density of crowds and has obvious applications as a low cost social distancing sensor.
Smarvid.io has adapted its Vinnie AI system to identify workers who come within six feet of each other on a construction site. Fellow US based company Triax Technologies has introduced wearable IoT sensors that can be positioned on a hard hat or lanyard. These incorporate an alarm that can be disabled when close working is inevitable.
It's clear that social distancing isn't going away in the short term, yet maintaining that critical 2m gap can be difficult on any construction site. The advantage of a system such as SafeSpace is that it can help to build a culture of spatial awareness while being easy to deploy and highly wearable.
Covid-19 has changed the way Britain builds. Incorporating hygiene and social distancing has proved a challenge to the industry where dirty work is the norm. But while construction workers are used to the demands of working PPE for their job, social distancing will require something of a culture change on the average construction site.
Wearable tech such as SafeSpace can help to drive positive behavioural change and ensure highway and other construction sites optimise for safety. But wearable tech is not the only solution. Where it's impossible not to have two workers in close proximity, track and trace apps and cheap and available testing could keep construction driving the economic recovery.
Highway maintenance crews have already voiced their concern at carrying out work that they feel is unsafe. Many operations are impossible to carry out while observing government social distancing guidance.
Measures such as isolating two men teams at the start and end of their shift, increased use of hand sanitiser and PPE and additional cleaning are being used by some companies. Amey's MD James Haluch has made it clear that the need to keep Britain moving had to be balanced with safe working practices out on the road. The development and adoption of SafeSpace could be instrumental in achieving that balance.