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Tue May 18 2021

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Edinburgh firm launches wrist-strap monitor for social distancing

13 May 20 Companies including Keltbray are trialling new technology developed by Edinburgh-based Reactec to alert workers if they stray within two metres of a colleague.

Reactec has repurposed its existing HAVwear wrist-worn safety device, which is used in tackling Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome. The addition of the new ‘Safedistance’ technology is designed to enable employers to manage the social distancing of their workforce within construction, rail, manufacturing and other workplaces.  

More than 45,000 of Reactec’s HAVwear monitors are already in circulation in the UK. Reactec is offering to enable these devices remotely by adding the safe distancing software free of charge.

One of the companies trialling Safedistance is Keltbray. Paul Deacy, managing director demolitions and civils, said: “Keltbray already uses HAVwear as it’s a robust product and the analytics reporting with its automation and GDPR compliance are critical factors to Keltbray providing actionable intelligence. So when Reactec approached us to trial the new social distance functionality we already had confidence in the product. Keltbray is encouraged by this new offering. This could truly assist us in managing social distancing across our projects.”

Development work that would normally take months was completed in 15 days, allowing Reactec to test and launch the product in record time. A number of leading companies within the construction and rail sector are now trialling the technology.

Safedistance is based on an industrial-grade wrist-worn device. As well as alerting workers if they stray too close to colleagues, it is designed to inform employers of the frequency and severity of breaches of social distancing protocols. The company said that it can also assist with contact tracing of those who have been close to employees subsequently displaying Covid-19 symptoms and can be used to facilitate contact tracing across employers on busy infrastructure projects. Another use is for ‘ring fencing’ of teams who need to work more closely together in controlled cohorts, it said. It can used to enable real time intervention by a supervisor in the event of social distancing breaches

Reactec CEO Jacqui McLaughlinsaid: “Social distancing will clearly be with us for some time and it’s vital that when people get back to work they can do so safely. Our team has moved quickly to repurpose our technology to help businesses to ensure that their teams are working safely.

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“Reactec, is already dedicated to helping reduce the damage to workers’ health from exposure to vibration, so developing our technology to include social distancing was a logical next step in response to Covid-19. We want to play our part in getting everyone back to work safely and with confidence.”

 Reactec has discussed the capabilities of Safedistance at ministerial level with the Scottish government. Ivan McKee, minister for trade, investment and innovation, said: “In response to this pandemic, companies right across Scotland have been diversifying production lines, increasing capacity or exploring new distribution routes to help deliver what is needed, when it’s needed. Technology is going to play a crucial role in helping us overcome the long-term challenges presented by Covid-19 so it is great to see innovative, dynamic companies repurposing existing technology to help us protect workers from potential exposure in the future.”

The Safedistance technology works by using Bluetooth-enabled Reactec devices to detect other Reactec devices within a 2m range. Should users become closer than two metres apart, both device users are warned with both vibration and audio alerts.

The device is returned to its recharging docking station at the end of each shift, at which point details of any safe distancing breaches are uploaded to the cloud and combined with other data to produce employer reports to assist in the management of social distancing. All data use is entirely GDPR compliant, said the company. The system can be expanded to provide real-time transmission of distancing breaches to enable supervisors to act immediately in managing social distancing.

McLaughlin said: “Safedistance is based on a robust, tried and tested personal monitoring technology specifically designed for harsh environments and the strongest requirements of corporate ownership of GDPR compliant data.  While the repurposing of the technology to help prevent the spread of Covid-19 is innovative, it is a software amendment to a well-used system. Like everyone else, we long to see the country get back to work and for the economy to be kickstarted once more. I’m confident that Safedistance can play an important part in helping to make this happen.”

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