When anti-collision means avoiding static objects and areas

Gary Escott Feb 6, 2019 11:09:00 AM
SiteZone iNstant for MEWPS and transient vehicles

Danger that doesn’t move

Our safety focus has always been on preventing collisions between workers and plant vehicles. Construction sites and depots can be very dangerous places due to a lot of activity, as people, machinery and vehicles move around in close proximity to one another. Being lulled into a false sense of security about how close one is to machinery, coupled with compromised vision, is a potential recipe for collision incidents.

This is where the opportunity to apply RFID proximity warning system (PWS) technology to create effective anti-collision alerts was inspired.  But the topography of a site itself can present dangers that don’t move around like vehicles do. Our wireless proximity warning technology can also be applied to these places that pose a risk to workers.

We launched the UK’s first wireless proximity warning systems in 2016.  We thought that it would be hugely efficient to be able to kit out visiting vehicles to a site as they come through the gate so that protection from collision risk is consistent and continuous.

However, if you know anything about construction sites, they are varied and full of hazards – that don’t necessarily move around. There could be unsafe structures, sinkholes, harmful substances that are pooling or have been spilled – the possibilities are many. Why not use the RFID PWS technology to protect workers from those, by segregating those areas, using a system that’s easily mountable just about anywhere, without the need for cabling? The wireless version still offers visual and audible alarms to let people know that they are approaching a static, unsafe area, or object.

Some of the common dangers are:

MEWPs: while a MEWP (mobile elevated platform) is not always static, it can remain that way for long periods of time until the operator decides to move it. However, will the pedestrians on the ground know that clearly? This is a collision risk.

Holes in the ground: Works are phased and scheduled and sometimes holes in the ground stay that way for a long time. So, until the holes or trenches (i.e. potential trips and falls) are dealt with, an RFID perimeter can be set up at key danger spots to warn workers.

Toxins and biohazards: construction and land remediation often mean dealing with hazardous areas, pooling toxins or work around dangerous organics, such as excessive bird faeces, or stagnant ground water that may be harbouring biological contaminants such as rat urine. Ensuring that workers don’t stray into these areas reduces contamination risk among the workforce.

Let’s not forget about asbestos: a perilous and insidious substance which is found on a variety of construction sites and derelict structures. Its detrimental physical effects are often not detected until many years after exposure. Until specialist asbestos removal contractors are brought onto a site to extract it carefully, other workers should be segregated from the risk of disturbing it.

The multipurpose function of the basic SiteZone unit means it can be tailored to mitigate all these risks, and prevent yet more accidents, injuries or fatalities. Whether you’re on a MEWP, avoiding trenches, or keeping safe at crossing points, if you’re not aware, static hazards can harm you. Maybe it’s time to start thinking slightly differently about collision; it’s not just about a vehicle colliding with you, it can be about you having an unpleasant collision with something else!