Using telematic data can reduce collisions and keep staff safe

Written by: Gary Escott | Published:
The telematics option used in tandem with the RDID proximity warning systems saves all data

Despite our improved, modern safety standards, there are still collisions between work vehicles and site personnel.

Nowhere is this more prevalent than in industry, especially in the waste sector.The UK’s Health & Safety Executive (HSE) statistics show that many local authority employees are at high risk of harm while engaging in jobs with continuous vehicular interaction at sites and depots.

The waste sector figures reveal that there were on average 5,000 self-reported work-related accidents each year between 2010-2016 – higher than most other sectors, including construction which is well-known for high safety risks.

Of the employer reported accidents only, 130 people were struck by a moving vehicle, but not fatally. However, eight people lost their lives by being struck by moving vehicles while engaging in their job.

Our solution to help improve safety standards in these situations was to apply RFID (radio frequency identification) technology to mitigate the collision risk. RFID proximity warning systems activate when someone walks too near to a vehicle being driven or operated on site; an audible and visual alarm alerts the vehicle operator.

A warning is given to the site worker via the wearable tag fitted to their hard hat or sleeve, to let them know they’re too close to the vehicle in question. When it goes off, they will know that there is a risk of collision, therefore the machine operator and site worker can take the appropriate action.

However, there was more scope to further improve, so we decided that our next weapon in the safety arsenal should be data.

Information is powerful

Have you ever thought, after you’ve made a mistake or had an accident of some kind, that you wished you could rewind the moment and see where you went wrong?That is exactly what telematic capability allows you to do.

The telematics option used in tandem with the RFID proximity warning system, saves all data; this captures plant/personnel interface data and sends it to the Cloud. Telematic capability helps site and health and safety managers to scrutinise data from all the recorded near misses between workers and vehicles on site.

SiteZone Safety felt it was vital to develop a telematics option so that continuous benchmarking and improvement could change the collision statistics across our most at-risk industries.

How better to do it than provide the means to affect an entire fleet of vehicle operators at once? All managers will have full access to information relating to plant/personnel interactions via a dedicated portal, through which they can view information such as the number of unauthorised entries into a safety zone and a real-time display of length of time spent within them. From this information, performance reports can be created to highlight key issues in specified zones or personnel safety breaches.

The live data shows the location of the machine in question, identifies the associated vehicle operator’s RFID tag, and any other RFID tags active in the relevant safety zone. Site and health and safety managers can see how depots are performing, and if workers and drivers are following requisite safety practices.

Armed with this information, safety training can then be targeted where it will be most effective, and individual workers can be monitored to check safe working practices are being cultivated.

This data can be shared across multiple sites for comparison and benchmarking. Managers can help to cultivate a holistic standard of site safety practice across the fleet and push continual improvement. Time and resources can be allocated more efficiently for the wider benefit of employees.

Improving collision risk awareness

SiteZone Safety has always felt that education about safety awareness should work in tandem with technology – both man and machine working together to enable a safety culture change.

We started a safety awareness campaign – ‘Don’t burst the bubble’ to inform workers about the danger zone or ‘bubble’ around each vehicle on a site which should never be breached by anyone on foot. Together with the use of the proximity warning system, the margin for risk can be significantly reduced.

As more companies (and sectors) embrace the technology, the potential to improve safety practices increases and more lives will be saved. We should never let our guard down on anti-collision safety, but if we do, RFID is always on duty.

Every person who goes to work on a site, depot or warehouse should feel secure in the knowledge that they will return home, safely to their families, unharmed.If your workers on foot need more education about collision awareness, hard data through telematic capture can show them where they are putting that foot wrong, and help managers stay a few steps ahead on the road to better safety.

Gary Escott is director of SiteZone Safety

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