The construction industry is one of the most dangerous industries to work in. It has the second highest number of occupational deaths, and recent data identifies vehicle collisions as the second most common cause of fatal construction injuries. By their very nature, construction sites are dangerous places and full of potential hazards, but new video telematics technologies can provide real-time camera feeds and a truly 360° view of on-site construction operations. This article explains how video telematics is providing construction professionals with the visibility and data insights to ensure the highest level of safety is maintained at all times—completely revolutionizing construction health and safety.
Making up just 7.3% of the U.S. workforce but accounting for up to 21.7% of fatal injuries in 2020, construction workers are significantly overrepresented in workplace injuries. However, when it comes to construction equipment and moving vehicles, there is the added risk to vulnerable people that can occur on the road network or at the entrance of a construction site, as the death toll for accidents involving heavy equipment can account for almost half of fatal construction incidents in one year.
GREAT RISK, GREAT NEED
While there are safety protocols in place to minimize the risks involved with heavy equipment, it’s hard to completely eliminate risk altogether. Here’s where video telematics with its ability to provide real-time data for analysis, offers enhanced visibility to support risk detection and prevention, as well as aiding future risk planning.
COVERING ALL BASES
When it comes to complex and heavy machinery that require advanced maneuvering, even the most experienced plant operator can find it difficult to detect a sudden, unforeseen or previously unknown risk and respond quickly and efficiently in the moment.
Here a combination of cameras and sensors give drivers a complete 360° view around the plant via an in-cab monitor, a view that they would not previously have had. Front, side, and rear cameras ensure equipment is covered from all angles, while corner, side, and rear sensors warn of nearby people—such as workers, pedestrians, or cyclists—especially in blind spots. This system can also be linked to specific driving maneuvers, so a driver can view the appropriate camera when turning, for example, the left-hand indicator or reverse gear links to the correct camera angle when engaged.
ADD EXTRA INTELLIGENCE
Going forward, AI is what will set this next generation of video telematics apart as it becomes increasingly embedded in camera hardware. The latest intelligent detection cameras adopt deep learning technology to provide real-time insight. This enables the cameras to identify and track vulnerable people, making it possible to trigger an alert to the driver, especially when manual detection is difficult due to blind spots. The technology can even activate an external, audible alarm when someone enters virtual exclusion zones around the plant, thereby supporting the operator by alerting those around of the risk while preventative action is taken.
NO TO COMPLACENCY
With traditional proximity sensors, alerts can be triggered by inanimate objects, so there is a risk that drivers become complacent and take less notice of an alarm because of false positives. Here AI-enhanced smart cameras make all the difference. The AI-powered detection camera can locate people up to 20 meters away in real time, establishing the severity of risk dependent on their proximity to the equipment. With such high levels of accuracy and range, it provides the driver with increased reaction time and reduces the possibility of collisions.
Vehicle and plant camera technology is no longer a simple driving aid. To get the most value out of the data captured, forward-facing cameras and mobile digital video recorders (MDVRs) can now be connected 24/7 to a cloud-based platform, such as VisionTrack’s NARA (Notification, Analysis and Risk Assessment) platform. Recorded footage and supporting data of any collision, near miss, or harsh driving event is uploaded and can be viewed almost instantly. This provides plant or fleet managers with virtual eyes on the ground, enhancing visibility and control of equipment on site or out on the road.
EVENTS IN CONTEXT
Everybody in the telematics industry talks about driver behavior and being able to determine how a piece of equipment is being used or treated effectively. Video footage combined with telematics data provides important context to the recorded incident, unlocking new value from the telematics data. This allows construction managers to gain true visibility into the data to take targeted and effective action. If a video shows someone doing something risky that is linked to the event, then a more meaningful intervention can be made to improve safety. It also allows driving styles to be measured and analyzed, so steps can be taken as part of a wider safety strategy and training initiative.
Construction businesses can also monitor compliance using captured video and data. Almost any activity can trigger a recording by combining video telematics with event tracking on the equipment. Because cameras can be fitted almost anywhere on the plant, it is possible to ensure drivers are not ignoring safety procedures and investigate following a complaint or incident.
Take, for example, entering or exiting the cab of plant equipment and construction vehicles, which is a leading cause of slips, trips and falls (STFs) within the sector. A video telematics solution can connect a side camera to the door sensor, so footage is captured to validate that drivers are always facing the equipment and have three points of contact with the machinery.
MEETING SAFETY STANDARDS
The OSHA guidelines for health and safety promote proactive action and identify video as one of the favorable methods to detect and remove risk. But video telematics takes risk identification and management one step further by continuously monitoring real-time risk and using this data, with the help of AI, to plot patterns and build up a clear plan for risk mitigation.
Cloud platforms such as NARA can improve safety compliance with additional safety features like the occupant safety rating that monitors the wellbeing of the driver and can even alert emergency services to severe distress or injury following a collision—providing life-saving minutes to plant and vehicle operators.
There can be no doubt that the adoption of a compliant video telematics solution has an important role to play in meeting construction industry safety requirements.
The U.S. construction industry loses more than $11.3 billion a year to serious non-fatal workplace injuries—all of which could be preventable. Telematics alone can only go so far to prevent safety risks, as it offers only a vague image of the level of safety, with out-of-context incidents and potential false alarms. But when real-time video and telematics data are brought together in AI-powered video telematics, we suddenly have 360° visibility not only into activity on the ground but more importantly, into the digital data, to make telematics data more actionable.
About the Author:
Matthew Ison is head of sales for North America at VisionTrack, For more, visit www.visiontrack.com.
Modern Contractor Solutions, September 2023
Did you enjoy this article?
Subscribe to the FREE Digital Edition of Modern Contractor Solutions magazine.