Wearable tech continues advancement in construction

“The lightweight wearable sensor alerts safety personnel to slip, trip and fall incidents in real time … and logs key data for insurers on when and where incidents occur”

Wearable tech continues advancement in construction

Workers Comp

By Sam Boyer

Occupational injuries and illnesses are estimated to cost the United States as much as $250 billion a year. So cutting down on insurance costs in this area makes huge financial sense.

In the construction industry, many companies are turning to wearable technology to better manage risks and incidents – and there are insurance benefits to be leveraged from this.

Triax Technologies is one company working in construction wearable tech. The Connecticut company launched its sensor technology this year.

Pete Schermerhorn, chief operating officer at Triax, said his company’s product is worn on all workers’ belts on a construction site. The sensors track all workers’ whereabouts, have an emergency locator button for accidents and injuries.

“It’s a safety system for construction. If someone slips, trips, or falls on site, this sends an automatic notification [to a site supervisor] that someone has hit the ground. The system logs how high they fell, where they fell on site, and who else was in the geographic area – so that’s important information, obviously, from a claims perspective,” Schermerhorn said.

According to a recent McKinsey & Co, construction is the second-least digitized industry in the United States, and the least digitized industry in Europe. So that why companies like Triax are jumping in.

“You’ve got an incredibly important part of the US and global economy … without the same tech resources that are available in something like manufacturing.”

Triax’s technology is set up on a site using a mesh internet system to connect all areas of the site online, where it can be viewed by a site’s safety personnel.

“Unfortunately, incidents happen on construction sites. But if you can mitigate the incidents that have already happened or prevent incidents that have not happened, then you’re going to see claims go down, in severity or in number,” Schermerhorn said.

The wearables provide, according to the company, “real-time, data-driven visibility [in] the challenging construction site environment. It helps to improve worker safety and reduce incident response times, while enabling general contractors to better manage projects and labor productivity”.

Elsewhere in the industry, too, insurers have endorsed and financially-backed similar products.

Last year, AIG announced investment in wearables manufacturer Human Condition Safety. That trackable device, which is embedded in construction workers’ vests, is designed to monitor the movements of employees in factories, on construction sites and in other high-risk workplaces. The plan, there, was similarly to help managers keep track of where their workers and also help to decrease fraud.

As AIG says on its website: “Effective feedback based on data from wearable sensors has the potential to help workers learn to adopt safer behaviors. For example, a construction worker who receives repeated input from wearable sensors reminding him that he is lifting heavy objects in a way that causes back strain may, over time, change his habits and move more safely while lifting equipment at work.”

Related stories:
AIG teams up with wearables manufacturer to reduce workers’ comp losses
Wearable technology could be used to design risk out of construction workplace

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