Improving safety and efficiency with technology for connected workers

Connected worker technology can include a variety of tools and resources, but the digital solution most associated with it is the smart wearable headset.

When we imagine the construction sites of the future, we often visualize workers walking around with these headsets, but what are they actually doing?

These headsets are labeled as connected technology for workers because they enable audio-visual streaming and real-time collaboration between employees on site, at home or in the office. Today, there are a variety of smart wearable headsets, from small cameras that attach to pre-existing helmets to full-featured ANSI-certified hard hats and protective vision headsets that are classified as construction grade and safe for use on project sites—even when there are regulations such as the requirement for hearing protection.

The main question many are asking is, “What are the use cases for this technology and why should companies consider it?” There are five main benefits of adopting this technology for the connected worker today.

First, incorporating this digital solution eases travel challenges. For example, by using smart wearable headsets, employees in different locations can still virtually access sites and work directly with local teams, eliminating unnecessary time spent in transportation. Another application of the technology is for site approval engineers, as they are required to conduct regular site tours. By putting a date on the schedule that the site walk will take place and turning on the option to record it, there is no reason for the engineer to miss the walk. They can monitor the site every week, even if they are traveling, on vacation or otherwise unavailable.

Second, this technology can improve overall safety. Health and safety calls can be conducted on the project to show exactly what is happening in the field and assess where potential risk to employees may lie. Advisors from different locations can then join the conversation and bring their depth of experience to the site. Likewise, it can be applied to safety inspections, where a complete safety inspection can be facilitated remotely through this technology, including random assessment of instruments used on site and their calibration statuses.

Third, these headsets provide a thermal view of equipment, where they can see heat loss through insulation, higher-than-expected equipment temperatures, and other anomalies that should be noted during an inspection. Incorporating this technology into audits improves the quality of what the inspector can do on their own, allowing the inspector to detect thermal anomalies that are not easy to observe with the human eye.

Fourth, when problems arise on the ground, this technology can allow immediate access to decision-making bodies that will assess and correct the problem. Some questions and discussions require the presence of many stakeholders and discussion members. Through the use of smart wearables, these potentially dozens of employees are brought together in the shoes of one participant with shared vision, hearing and location.

Fifth, connected worker technology can improve efficiency and optimize project management. To ensure regular connections between all project stakeholders, the use of smart wearable headsets can allow video call participants to directly see and interact with the user’s view. This can also be applied to improve team workflows and maintain dialogue with multiple parties to work through issues and reach a common solution. Traditionally, holding these meetings would require several additional days of lost productivity to cover travel to and from work sites and then wait for a resolution after the crew has had a chance to see the problem on site, discuss and follow up. if necessary. These stakeholder sessions can now be held in a fraction of the time with a call for each of the stakeholders involved, where they dial in remotely to see the challenge on the ground.

In summary, these devices are designed to assist employees with everything from inspections, competency assessments and scope of work to maintenance, factory evaluation testing, decommissioning and more. Incorporating devices like these into day-to-day operations can help save time and money and reduce schedule delays.

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