“Railroad deaths in the USA in 2019 were the highest recorded since 2007, rising by over 11% over 2018.” – Injury Facts
“There were 3926 “employee injuries” of on-duty railway employees in 2019.” – Bureau of Transportation Statistics
As a part of the wide-ranging strategy to rebound from the pandemic, the US has started rebuilding its infrastructure. One of the focus areas is the railways. President Biden has set aside $80 billion to revive the rail system in the US.
As the country searches for sophisticated railway systems, those responsible for making this dream a reality must also adhere to the safety guidelines laid down by Federal Railway Administration (FRA) and Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).
In line with these guidelines, employers in the space must assess the existing conditions that could lead to potential safety hazards and address them. They must also brief the workers aptly during every task briefing.
To ensure worker safety, employers must also leverage emerging technologies.
Technologies To Stay On Track For Safer Railroads And Rail Yard
Despite training and experience, workers are still injured at the yard or railroads in incidences such as head-on and rear-end collisions. These are complex workplaces, and workers may need to be guided remotely to complete tasks safely. Even more so now when workers are required to collaborate remotely to finish work following social distancing rules. Technology can enable employers to stay on a safe track while overcoming these new challenges.
Here are some technologies that can be leveraged:
- Remote Control Locomotive (RCL): A hand-held transmitter for use at rail yards to manage locomotives. This ensures there are no injuries due to miscommunication between the workers. And helps workers to avoid collisions or serious injuries in the yard. According to FRA, RCL has reduced injury rates by 20%.
- Wearable and collaborative technologies: These technologies are useful when social distancing must be maintained, and workers have to operate from remote locations. Wearable technologies like AR-based smart glasses enable experts to guide the workers in real-time from a remote location. They help workers access information and improve the accuracy of work. The smart glasses also have offline syncing capabilities to continue collaboration even in areas that have no connectivity. Collaborative technologies minimize disruptions and help complete tasks even while working remotely. Other wearables help map real-time locations of workers and provide locational awareness that feeds into safety strategies.
- Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT): In IIoT, many devices connect with each other to improve work efficiency, encourage continuous communication between team members, and monitor real-time events to alert workers when they get close to a hazardous site. Workers are notified through text messages, email notifications, or even voice notifications reducing accidents, falls, and injuries. In addition, to protecting workers, IIoT technology is also essential for safeguarding the lives of passengers. The railways gather data from different connected devices, which are analyzed in real-time. As soon as they identify a potential problem, a real-time alert is sent to the workers to fix it to prevent any accidents or collisions from occurring.
- Predictive technologies: Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Big Data also use current and historical data to identify developing vulnerabilities and drive corrective measures. Another technology widely used in railways is Positive Train Control (PTC), often considered an IoT project. 41% of rail accidents occur due to human error. PTC helps prevent accidents caused by human error. In PTC, multiple technologies are used inside the locomotives, tracks, etc. to monitor the train’s movements and communicate them to sensors. This helps prevent collisions and derailments.
The railway sector can flourish only when all workers and passengers are safe. And technology can play a key role here. Guardhat has been at the forefront of safeguarding workers from occupational accidents and injuries. We build human-centric technology solutions that draw from our own real-life experiences. From wearable devices, such as smart hats, to tags and IIoT platforms, our products raise the bar when it comes to holistic safety and productivity improvements. Contact us for more information on how we at Guardhat can enhance your safety solutions.
Guardhat is pioneering end-to-end connected worker safety solutions for industrial workers. The company offers 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. With Guardhat, companies can monitor worker location, health, and work environment to speed reaction time and help proactively solve safety challenges. Guardhat is headquartered in Detroit, Michigan, and operates globally. The company holds 15 patents in real-time location systems, wearable solution design, and connected worker software. For more information, visit: www.guardhat.com or contact us.