Monday, October 26, 2020
October 16, 2019

Construction industry tinkers with wearable technology to improve safety, cut costs



As reported in the Hartford Business Journal, when it comes to danger in the workplace, few jobs are more treacherous than those on a construction site.

Of the 4,674 private-sector workers who died on the job in 2017, one in five were in construction, according to Occupational Safety and Health Administration statistics.

The way Dennis Mullen, New England safety director for Gilbane Building Co., describes it: “Everything we work with is either hard, hot, sharp or heavy.”

Add in the fact that much of the workday can be spent high above the ground or around high-wattage power tools and heavy machinery, and the chance of an accident is even more likely.

To mitigate those risks, a growing number of construction firms are experimenting with wearable technology and the internet of things to enhance their workplace safety efforts.

From trackable clips that can detect falls and help first responders locate injured workers, to hazard-and-fatigue-sensing smart helmets, to bionic exoskeletons that absorb the burden of heavy lifting, wearables are catching on in the construction field. And it’s only a matter of time before some of the best technology goes mainstream, experts say.

“I don’t think it’ll be very much time at all, because safety is so important to everyone,” said Nancy Greenwald, executive director of the Construction Institute, an industry association and think tank based at the University of Hartford.

Right now, larger construction firms like Gilbane — with bigger budgets and more resources — are taking the lead in piloting some of the newest technology, and the industry’s eyes are on them, Greenwald said.

Keep reading in the Hartford Business Journal