Construction News

Wed June 29 2022

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QTS uses social distancing tech as site hazard alarm

5 days A gadget developed for social distancing in the first wave of covid has been developed into a tool to keep workers safe from other hazards.

The Zonr proximity warning system
The Zonr proximity warning system

The Pathfindr Safe Distancing Assistant, worn as an arm strap, has now become part of a system that creates virtual exclusion zones to keep workers clear of workplace hazards.

The new system, called Zonr, has been developed in collaboration with rail contractor QTS. A proximity alarm alerts workers when a vehicle or other hazard comes close, or if they step into a high-risk area – guiding them through a workplace to avoid potential incidents.

It gives site operators real-time data over incursions, enabling interventions to be made in the moment, as well as providing data to enable site safety process to be improved.

Ben Sturgess, chief technology officer at Pathfindr, said: “While all sites have health and safety measures and policies in place to protect workers, they rely on human accuracy to identify hazards in fast-moving environments – and we’re all fallible.

“Zonr has been designed to keep people and machines apart, so that workers can focus on doing their jobs efficiently, knowing they’ll be alerted to a hazard. No technology will eliminate the need for continual vigilance, but Zonr reduces the risk of a serious incident and helps site operators manage their liability for the safety of site workers.”

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The system combines GPS tracking and ultra-wideband technology to locate workers and hazards, and create a virtual barrier – or exclusion zone – around those hazards. 

The exclusion zone is created through signals sent between a control unit and sensors placed anywhere within a site. The control unit alerts the system operator  to any incursion, and also lets workers themselves know when they have entered an unsafe zone through a sounded alarm on a wearable device.

Exclusion zones can be reconfigured just by moving the sensors. All setup is completed through a mobile app, and incursion data is viewed via a web-based portal.

QTS managing director Alan McLeish said: “Our live sites are dynamic, and no two scenarios are ever identical, which means that ensuring health and safety is an ongoing challenge. We’ve combined our in-depth understanding of the complex ways that railway sites operate with Pathfindr’s smart tech expertise to create a solution which has the potential to have a major impact on the way site safety risk is managed.”

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