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A new dimension to site safety

13 July 2016

10 reasons why wearable RFID proximity alarms are game changers in site safety. Gary Escott of OnGrade explains why the devices should be used on every working site where vehicles and pedestrians work side by side.

1 They see around corners
In poor visibility conditions, standard PPE and even cameras have proven fallible when it comes to preventing collisions between pedestrians and construction vehicles. Radio frequency identification (RFID) offers a new dimension to site safety by giving all site workers an extra level of control and protection. It ‘sees’ around corners, and is unaffected by environmental conditions such as dust and smoke and poor light conditions.

2 A two-way alarm system failsafe
The pedestrian wears the RFID tag on their sleeve or hard hat. At the same time, all working site vehicles are fitted with an RFID detector. Whenever a pedestrian enters the detection zone of a vehicle, both the pedestrian and driver receive a warning. The RFID tag on the pedestrian’s sleeve or hat vibrates and an external alarm sounds, making them aware of the vehicle’s proximity, while the driver is alerted by sound and flashing lights inside their vehicle’s cab.

3 They are discreet, small and light
An RFID proximity tag is light enough to wear on your hard hat, and the RFID detector is simple to install on your plant vehicle. Systems like SiteZone can be hired or purchased, and have full installation and service support.

4 Any site contractor can hire them
OnGrade have made their RFID proximity alarms available for hire. That means small companies or sole traders can afford to kit themselves out on construction jobs that require the use of RFID protection, without having to purchase the system. Hiring also comes with the added protection of equipment replacement in the highly unlikely event that anything goes wrong with it.

5 Makes site workers more aware of collision danger
Plant operators have reported that until they started using RFID proximity alarms, they hadn’t realised how often and how close they came to a possible accident each day. 

6 Changes behaviours and bad habits
Plant operators in particular have already reported a change in behaviour on site because the proximity alarm has deterred pedestrians from ‘drifting’ too near to moving vehicles or plant. Wearers are more mindful of their movements due to the alarms. Having RFID proximity systems on vehicles means the operators stop and assess their situation if the alarm goes off; there are so many blind spots on large construction vehicles and seeing a pedestrian is not always possible.

7 Provides data to improve safety benchmarking
Advanced RFID systems are excellent benchmarking tools because they can log all ‘near miss’ incidents. Using such data, site managers can identify any repeat offenders who are at the highest risk of injury from potential collisions. The data informs targeted safety training, monitoring, saves on cost, time and improves efficiency. It can be shared across multiple sites and site movements and trends can be compared in relation to safety standards.

8 Applicable in different settings and industries
RFID proximity alarms are commonly used on construction sites, but any site where there is a lot of vehicle and pedestrian traffic would benefit.  

For example, they are already used on waste and recycling industry sites. SiteZone has recently provided Powerday with a workable method of making everyone aware of what’s going on around them and reducing the likelihood of any contact between a vehicle and person.

It can also be applied effectively in the rail industry as the requirements for ongoing trackside maintenance involves vehicles and workers in close proximity.

9 Using them demonstrates an interest staff safety and welfare
Employers who invest in RFID proximity alarms are making a significant improvement in site safety and anti-collision avoidance, as well as exercising good occupational health practice. If workers are constantly worried that they may have an accident on the job, it causes stress. Should the worst happen and members of staff are involved in a collision incident, the consequences of physical injury, mental trauma and guilt are long lasting. An RFID tag could help to reduce the risks significantly.

10 They save lives
According to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) construction industry statistics 67% of construction businesses reported serious risk of injury due to moving vehicles. In the last five years, there were 35 fatalities on construction sites in the UK – 21 of those were caused by being hit by a moving vehicle.
Site workers don’t have to be one of those statistics for the sake of putting on an RFID tag.