Safety

Improving Construction Workforce Safety with Smart Badges [Proactive + Reactive Measures]

September 15, 2022
6 min
Improving Construction Workforce Safety with Smart Badges [Proactive + Reactive Measures]

The construction workforce is growing and while we search for the skilled, we need to be there to protect every worker. According to the CDC, jobsite falls are one of the leading causes of serious work-related injuries and fatalities in the construction industry. Accounting for more than one in three (36.4%) of the total number of fatalities in this industry. 

Here is a 2021 statistic by the Bureau of Labour Statistics (BLS). They concluded the following facts:

  • There were 1102 fatal injuries in the construction industry in 2019 (BLS)
  • Falls and slips accounted for 37.9% of the total fatal injury in the construction industry (BLS)
  • The total number of fatalities increased by 22.9% between the years 2018 and 2019 (BLS)

A construction site can become a hotspot of injuries, so the question arises, how can we lower the volume of falls? Due to the nature of a jobsite, it can be difficult to stay on top of your whole team, so construction companies are beginning to utilise new technology to support the gaps in information and safety.

Current top construction safety concerns:

  • Lack of fall protection
  • Improper scaffolding use
  • Inadequate equipment
  • Faulty ladders
  • Lack of head protection (hard hats)
  • Lack of vision or oversight
  • Improper vehicle use
  • Communication failure

With the rise of technology, construction companies are supporting workforce safety using new solutions for the field. They are called smart badges.

Smart badges for construction sites

The traditional construction badges contain basic information and not much more. Within recent years, the traditional construction badge has evolved into a more dynamic badge for contractors, subs, owners, and any workers on-site. 

A “smart” badge is an intelligent workforce badge that contains technology to improve productivity & safety on a jobsite. The Kwant smart badges allow contractors to unlock multiple features and benefits on the jobsite using sensor technology. Some of the premium features for the smart badges include fall detection, detecting near-misses, location awareness, access control, and a built-in SOS alert button for proactive and reactive safety measures. Smart badges can also pair with visualisation tools such as heatmaps for location awareness and areas that are hard to see.

In the past, the first generation of smart badges had very little battery life. Currently, the smart badges by Kwant contain a 3 year battery life minimum so that nothing will get in the way of the workforce. Smart badges also act as an ID card and can hold certifications such as an SST card or OSHA. This is an especially valuable asset for specific projects and jobsites that are at higher risk.

Reactive safety features

fall detection technology with smart badges

Fall detection

Fall detection is a relatively new technology that has been improving jobsite safety for our workforce. When a worker wears a smart badge on the jobsite and falls hard, leadership will get an instant notification and basic info on the location/worker for the incident. Fall detection is a real-time safety feature to support fall prevention from heights and the use of heavy machinery. Let’s face it, we’re human, but we can work toward providing a safer and smarter workplace for everyone while building.

There are times when workers are left unsupervised or given limited oversight. In such cases, fall detection technology can be a valuable asset. With smart badges and built-in fall detection, management can supervise their team in proactive ways that reduce risk and issues around the “lone worker” or spotter. The issue with falls is that they are quiet. Construction sites are inherently loud and the odds of someone hearing a fall are very slim, let alone witnessing. In 2020, there were over 1,000 fall-related deaths in construction.

According to OSHA’s 1926.501(b)(2)(ii), “Each employee on a walking/working surface 6 feet (1.8 m) or more above a lower level where leading edges are under construction, but who is not engaged in the leading edge work, shall be protected from falling by a guardrail system, safety net system, or personal fall arrest system. If a guardrail system is chosen to provide the fall protection, and a controlled access zone has already been established for leading edge work, the control line may be used in lieu of a guardrail along the edge that parallels the leading edge.” The Kwant smart badges detect falls 6ft or more to align with compliance requirements.

OSHA’s general recommendations to prevent falls:

  • Guard every floor hole into which a worker can accidentally walk.
  • Provide a guard rail and toe-board around every elevated open sided platform, floor or runway.
  • Regardless of height, if a worker can fall into or onto dangerous machines or equipment (such as a vat of acid or a conveyor belt) employers must provide guardrails and toe-boards to prevent workers from falling and getting injured.
  • Other means of fall protection that may be required on certain jobs include safety harness and line, safety nets, stair railings and handrails.

According to Liberty Mutual, worker compensation claims for non-fatal falls account for 2.5B annually.

SOS button feature smart badges

Built-in SOS button

Traditionally, if there was an accident on ao jobsite, someone would radio in or call for help. The issue with this approach is that construction sites are chaos in a nutshell with loud noises left and right. Sometimes it can be hard to see or hear someone calling for help in case there is an emergency. Smart badges allow the workforce to signal for help when they are injured using a built-in SOS button feature.

If a worker falls and injures themself, they are able to call for help by pressing the built-in button on the smart badges. Once the button is pressed, the appointed person in charge of the site and project will be notified within seconds through text, email, and within the software platform. When contractors utilise smart badges, they generally improve safety response time by a staggering 90%.

Proactive safety features

 

detect near-misses with smart badges

Detect near-misses

As the chaos on a construction site continues during the work-day, it is crucial to catch near-misses with vehicles or heavy equipment and machinery. Smart badges can catch anomalies on the jobsite and through those anomalies detect if someone struck a vehicle or pedestrian. Management can also make an educated guess that a worker may be drunk on the jobsite. 

Detecting near-misses on the jobsite is a proactive approach to safety that many contractors are utilising today and prevent high-risk activities. If there is enough data built, one could even rank high-risk activities based on zones and teams working that day.

restrict access with smart badges

Restricting access

Stemming from ranking high-risk activities, we can also rank high-risk work zones and restrict access to specific workers. When a worker is entering a flagged high-risk zone, their smart badge will send a notification to the worker and management on who is entering the location. Restricting access through the smart badges are a great way to stay proactive with safety and provide a way to detect future incidents. 

Choosing the right workforce safety solution

A general OSHA penalty could range from $13K to even 140K. Just from that piece of information, it is crucial to promote safety. Not just to save costs but to save lives. Smart badges support construction companies with workforce safety solutions built for rugged environments. 

Kwant smart badges provide:

  • ID badge
  • Location awareness
  • Fall detection (6ft and up)
  • SOS button
  • Restricted access
  • Detect worker near-misses
  • Instant alerts

The smart badges built by Kwant support GPS, BLE, and WiFi for indoor and outdoor location awareness. Information is detected only on-site and never off the desired locations of work so data is accurate and secure, smart badges will never capture data outside of the jobsite.

With the need of skilled construction workers rising and more projects on the horizon, workforce risk reduction should be a top priority. The Kwant smart badges allow contractors to protect their workforce in a way where they can be proactive and reactive simultaneously without interruptions and continue proving success.

Learn more about the Kwant smart badges for improving workforce safety for your next project.

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