Safety in Roofing: Wearable Technology
It is well known that roofing and other types of structures carry a high risk of injury and death, especially from falls. According to OSHA and the Census of Fatal Occupational injuries prepared by the U.S. Bureau of Statistics, falls, slips, and trips are the second largest cause of workplace injuries, rising 11% in 2019. Not only is the injury or death of an employee a terrible event for the crew, it also has a high cost for the entrepreneur. According to National Safety Council estimates, the average cost per work-related accident requiring medical care in 2017 was $39,000. And for a fatality? Those average costs rose to $1,150,000 (including payroll losses, medical and administrative costs, and employer costs). This does not even include possible fines if the employer is found negligent.
Standard safety methods for tie-down points, harnesses and secure ladder attachments are important, but many companies have also developed high-tech products in recent years to protect the lives of roofers and other construction professionals. Check out a handful of options on the market here, designed for overall worker safety:
Triax’ flagship wearable device provides a direct line of communication for employees to report injuries, safety incidents and hazards with the quick push of a button. The robust, compact Clip detects free fall of the worker and gives an evacuation alarm in the event of an emergency on the construction site. A crew equipped with these devices can benefit from zone-based worker location identification, which Triax says can improve response time to injuries and falls by more than 90%. The lightweight device weighs just 2 ounces and can last for months between charges.
Kenzen, a smart personal protective equipment innovator focused on physiological monitoring and prevention of heat injury and death among workers, provides a real-time heat monitoring system for workers. The cloud-based Software as a Service (SaaS) system includes a wearable device worn by roofers on their arm that alerts both the employee and their supervisor when their body temperature is too high. Real-time alerts ensure immediate intervention and worker safety from heat injuries.
The wearable device monitors multiple physiological and environmental metrics, including heart rate, activity, skin temperature, and ambient temperature. Together, these sensor data provide real-time prediction of the body’s core temperature, alerting workers and supervisors when temperatures approach unsafe levels.
Multi-level alerts are sent to employees via device vibration and iOS or Android app notifications, and to supervisors via a web dashboard alert that tells the employee to take a break and let his/her temperature return to safe levels. Warnings are accompanied by actionable recommendations to reduce body heat. A second “back to work” alarm then indicates when the employee’s core body temperature has returned to a safe level.
This high-tech, lightweight, breathable full-body harness from FallTech is designed with exclusive aluminum camlock torso adjusters for an easy and secure upper-body fit. The harness has been rigorously tested and meets ANSI Z359.11-2014 safety requirements for full body harnesses and OSHA 1926.502 fall protection systems criteria and practices. A lightweight Flowscape® shoulder yoke, sub-pelvic bone and 7-inch waist support positioning pads provide evaporative breathability, while a patented dorsal attachment sleeve supports the addition of personal self-retracting devices (SRLs).
This unique smart safety helmet is designed to provide time, location and motion analytics for all site activities. The WakeCap connects to the purpose-built, scalable Site-Mesh network to enable accurate and consistent reporting for project management actions and worker safety at industrial and construction sites. The standard ratchet on the back of a safety helmet has been replaced by the integrated chip system with a battery life of at least 1½ years. Additional anchors are placed throughout the job site to help determine the location of each worker’s helmet. An accompanying analytics platform and customizable dashboards provide granular visibility into workplace operations, such as workflow and safety.
Blackline’s Loner Mobile lone worker app turns a smartphone into a simple and non-intrusive security monitoring platform. Loner Mobile uses the Loner Duo and SOS button accessories, which provide Bluetooth communication to pair with the app.
To manually request assistance, all security monitoring apps (including Loner Mobile) require the user to access their smartphone, unlock it, open the app, and trigger an emergency request. All of this takes time that the employee may not have. Loner Duo or the SOS button provide a physical interface to instantly call for help with both automatic and manual triggers. Security incidents are communicated to live monitoring personnel via Loner Mobile; Duo and the SOS button automatically communicate with Loner Mobile, which then connects with security personnel.
Designed for individuals and teams, large or small, the WorkerSafety Pro app provides a comprehensive safety solution for iPhone and Apple Watch users. Already trusted by the construction, energy, aerospace and agriculture sectors, the app includes advanced detection that proactively prevents false alarms. It automatically alerts emergency contacts according to established security protocols and has a security dashboard that enables centralized monitoring and response.
Developed during the time of COVID-19, the Triax TraceTag is a proximity alert system and contact tracing solution. It is mounted on a hardhat or worn on the body and is designed to provide an alert when workers are around so they can meet the social distancing requirements of the specific job site. The device provides active feedback to the employee in the form of a visual and audible alarm, as well as the passive collection of employee interactions for contact tracing (if an individual test is positive).