There’s a lot to love about renewable energy. They produce almost no pollution, especially when compared to fossil fuels. Because they are deployed in a decentralized way, they are highly robust and resistant to large-scale outages. Furthermore, renewable energy can increase access to electricity for millions around the world through mini-grid solutions.
With all these benefits, let alone the positive environmental impacts, it is no wonder that more and more people are turning to renewable alternatives. According to the Energy Information Administration, renewable energy is expected to increase from 21% of US electricity generation to 42% in 2050. A Business Insider survey revealed that a large majority of Americans prefer clean energy sources over fossil fuels. Additionally, renewable energy investments in the US ballooned from $6 billion in 2004 to $59 billion in 2019 and the new infrastructure bill includes $73 billion for clean energy transmission investments.
Clearly, renewable energy is the future. However, this does not mean the path forward is without danger. Renewable energy production poses its own set of hazards to workers such as working in confined spaces, fall risks, electrical currents, burns, heavy machinery, gas and chemical exposure, and more.
Currently, many of these risks are being addressed through interventions that rely heavily on human behavior, such as training to ensure that workers and managers are aware of risks and how to prevent or handle them, tying compensation and bonuses to safe behavior, weekly safety meetings, and focusing on building an overall culture of safety in the organization. While these interventions will always be important, they are insufficient.
Fortunately, however, IoT-enabled connected safety solutions have made it possible to supplement manual safety processes and protocols with reliable technologies that add a layer of automated protection for workers and integrate seamlessly into workflows and processes.
Here are 3 ways that connected technology can be deployed to protect renewable energy workers:
- Gas/Chemical Detection and Alerts: though not an issue for certain sources of renewable energy like wind power, gas and chemical exposure is a real threat in other workplaces, such as natural gas refineries. IoT-enabled gas and chemical detectors can monitor concentrations of toxic gases and alert workers and management when toxic levels are approached, allowing for real-time intervention.
- Fall Detection: falls are an ever-present threat across the renewable energy sector and beyond, and there are certain areas where the threat of a fall is more so than others, such as wind turbines that can be hundreds of feet tall. With smart fall detectors, management and EMS can immediately be alerted when a fall has taken place, and worker location can be transmitted to the right people enabling a faster emergency response.
- Proximity Detection: in these, often chaotic, spaces full of people and heavy machinery, it is nearly impossible for people to constantly be aware of where everyone and everything is. This is extremely dangerous and can lead to injuries and even fatalities. However, with controlled access zoning, proximity detectors, and automated alerts, workers can be kept safe and aware of their surroundings without compromising their workflows.
Guardhat is pioneering end-to-end connected worker safety solutions for industrial workers. We offer cutting-edge, wearable technology; a proprietary connected worker platform – unrivaled in its ability to ingest, manage and analyze unstructured data; easy to deploy monitoring and reporting software; and a growing ecosystem of partner integrations.
Guardhat enables companies to monitor worker location, health, and work environment to shorten reaction time and help proactively solve safety challenges. We hold 15 patents in real-time location systems, wearable solution design, and connected worker software. If you are interested in our connected safety solutions – including situational awareness, environmental and biometric monitoring, multi-modal communication, RTLS, Covid-19, and advanced technology solutions – contact us to arrange a demo.