Why real-time people monitoring is the missing link in industrial safety

Industrial mishaps have dominated the headlines over the past few years. In that light, one would assume that empowering workers through good working conditions, access to modern tools, and safe industrial practices would have become a core business responsibility. But, unfortunately, that has not been the case.

While technological advancements across AI, AR and VR, 3D visualization, and analytics have enabled organizations to strengthen their safety posture, most organizations still struggle to ensure the well-being of their workers. In fact, many organizations still do not fully comprehend the importance of worker safety. It is also true that some organizations aren’t interested in investing in industrial safety beyond what is dictated by law and regulation. And even those who are good stewards of safety, do not have a strategy (or the tools) in place to monitor the safety of their workers in real-time. So, why is there a gap in the current industrial safety landscape and how can real-time people-monitoring bridge it? Let’s find out!

The gap that exists in industrial safety

News of industrial accidents spreads like wildfire. This undermines brand value, corporate image, and precipitates fines and legal action. That’s why there’s a lot of talk about devising strategies and adopting tools that can ensure worker safety. But talk is cheap.

Industrial workers have been operating in 3700°F furnaces, standing alone on 300-foot towers—battling gale-force winds, and using 60-tonne machines in tunnels so dark they can’t see their hands; yet, safety equipment has not changed much in the last six decades. Even today, many organizations are only using basic safety procedures and equipment. Their safety strategy is built around a handful of hard hats, outdated radios, 100-page safety manuals, mind-numbingly boring training, and an approach that is archaic and ineffective.

Isn’t it time for businesses around the world to invest meaningfully in technology to improve the level of safety at sites? It surely is, and the good news is that most of the core technology already exists to make that happen.

For example, IoT devices are enabling industries to monitor ambient conditions such as temperature, noise, and gas levels. AR and VR are helping workers to get insight into operating heavy machinery, working conditions in a mine, and the safety procedures to embrace while working in a rig. And drones are helping survey industrial sites, conduct inspections and identify potential hazards – so proper measures can be taken to ensure safety.

While these technologies are aiding industries to detect the level of risk and build a safe work environment, they are still not being used to monitor the location of workers in real-time. When a worker gets injured, there is no way for the operators and managers to know if or why the accident happened, or where the worker is currently located and how he/she can be reached. Often, these accidents happen in remote locations when the worker is all alone. This means that managers come to know about the event too late, with too little information, to be able to do anything to help.

In reality, industrial safety must go far beyond implementing a few sensors that detect the presence of gaseous emissions. It requires industries to have a system in place that has the potential to optimize site safety—in real-time. And a key focus of this solution must be the worker.

How real-time people monitoring bridges it

According to the International Labor Organization, around 6,000 people succumb to work-related accidents every single day. In an industrial setup, where workers are highly susceptible to work-related incidents and mishaps, ensuring safety is no longer an option but a prerequisite. Real-time people monitoring through GPS, RFID tags, IoT wearables, etc. can enable businesses to track the movement of people in and around the industrial site, while allowing them to proactively prevent the chances of accidents. The technology can locate workers, visitors and contracts from long range, monitor their safety and send alerts in case of gas emissions, heat surges, prolonged inactivity or even a fall.

By capturing real-time information and analyzing them using modern analytics software, industries can not only improve safety conditions but also limit access to sensitive areas while receiving automatic alerts in case of violations. Using advance analytics, tailor-made real-time reports can be generated to support informed decision-making, allowing businesses to ensure worker safety—even in the riskiest of sites. Here’s how you can use real-time people monitoring to ensure the success of industrial safety:

Forestry and Logging

The forestry and logging industry showed an astounding rate of 136 injuries per 100,000 workers in 2016. This is the highest rate of injury for any occupation in the United States.

Forestry and logging work involve unnatural and uncomfortable working postures and immense exposure to noise and vibration. Uneven terrain, dense tree population, climatic extremes increase the risk. Falling trees and branches, chainsaw “kickbacks”, and tree hang-ups pose serious risks to the workers. Challenging terrains and other site factors such as the steepness of slopes, low visibility conditions, unsafe distances between yarded trees and logs, nature of soil increase the risks of forestry accidents. Repetitive strain injuries that occur due to whole-body vibrations while operating heavy machinery are still prevalent through vibration dampers and job rotation has alleviated the challenge a bit.

Log landings and reloading terminals are other high-risk areas owing to the sheer number of operations conducted in these spaces. Logs in unsecured piles, inefficient space for vehicle maneuvering, inadequate tools and machine maintenance, inadequately trained personnel, etc. make this environment dangerous.

However, given this environment, organizations are still struggling to get information at an individual level from their employees. The absence of real-time data from these sites is still impeding the industry from being proactive in preventing accidents and incidents. With the right data, analysis and monitoring systems, along with proper implementation, these accidents are preventable.

  • Harness the power of IoT to give operators and site managers real-time insights on current operating conditions, threats, and location-wise concentration of workers.
  • Track the location and safety status of workers.
  • Remotely monitor productivity, safety, and compliance for lone workers as well as an entire site.
  • Get real-time visibility into looming hazards and improve the accuracy and speed of emergency response.
  • Receive centralized alarms for a variety of risks including threat readings, alarms, compliance status, worker location and more.
  • Alert workers in the event of an incident, direct them to a safe location and inform local response teams to take immediate action to contain the incident.
  • Connect workers through an integrated plant-wide safety solution to detect threats and worker status in real-time.
  • Improve worker productivity through safe industrial practices and enable greater worker, plant, and community safety.

Join the missing piece to boost safety

Industrial workers work in extremely risky and dangerous conditions. Monitoring their safety and ensuring a suitable response in the event of an emergency must be a top priority. Although technology has been enabling industries to improve the working conditions in industrial sites, it has not been leveraged for real-time people monitoring. Knowing where your workers are, the risks they are exposed to, and the steps that need to be taken to ensure their safety will protect their well-being but also the site, community, and environment.

So, embrace technology that is available today to enable real-time people monitoring—the missing piece of the puzzle in industrial safety.


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