Contributed by Tom J. Moverman, Esq
There was a time, not too long ago, that future innovation was of no interest to the majority of the companies in the construction industry. Most companies were happy with the way things had been done for decades, and they were not interested in changing that. However, as construction companies start to realize the money and time that can be saved with innovations such as wearable technology, that old school attitude is changing.
Travelers Insurance estimates that the wearable industry shipped $20 billion in products in 2015, and that number is increasing rapidly. The U.S. Department of Labor estimates that there are nearly seven million construction field workers who could benefit from the use of wearable technology, that is technology that can monitor health and other worker elements instantly and deliver reliable data, and the push is to get wearable technology on every one of those workers.
The Benefits of Wearable Technology
The two primary areas that benefit from wearable technology are worker health and job site safety. For example, a hard hat that has sensors on it can monitor the health of a worker, while simultaneously broadcasting real-time images of the job site to safety personnel. In some cases, safety personnel can see problems coming before the workers even know what is going on, and that is technology that can save lives.
Wearable technology can collect job site condition data and relay that to project managers and site supervisors. Companies can collect video and data from wearable technology that can be used to better train future workers, and develop more effective ways of using construction equipment. Many of the conditions that workers and site supervisors could not see in the past involving dangerous materials or high-risk working situations would now be studied in detail to create more effective safety measures.
Construction companies can use wearable technology to increase worker productivity and get real data about what happened leading up to an accident. Companies can also tell exactly what workers are doing on job sites, and track the location of each worker in real time. If a worker is somewhere they are not supposed to be, the site supervisor can act immediately and accordingly.
The Problems with Wearable Technology
Wearable technology can improve worker health, make a job site safer, and even help a company to create more efficient methods that save money. But despite all that it can do, there are still issues with using future innovations in an old school environment such as construction. For one thing, workers may not want to wear the technology because they won't like the feeling that "Big Brother" is watching them. Reliable workers have nothing to fear with technology that reports their every movement, but some workers may find this technology too intrusive.
Another big issue with this new technology is the idea that workers will be more interested in the technology than the job at hand. If a worker knows their hard hat is collecting environmental data for a job, then that worker might be more tempted to try and see what the data looks like as opposed to doing their job. New technology is not only useful, but it can also be distracting as well.
Hard hats that can read environmental conditions and safety vests that report worker vital signs are just the beginning of wearable technology in the construction industry. Newer technology that is either in development or already in the field include specially designed glasses that help skilled workers to be more precise in their measurements, exoskeletons that protect workers and make lifting heavy objects much easier, and hard hats that can do 3D mapping of any part of a construction website.
The future of the construction industry includes wearable technology that can save money, save lives, and speed up the construction process. Instead of shying away from all of these technological advances, the construction industry has proven that it is looking forward to these future innovations.
Tom Moverman established the Lipsig Brooklyn Law Firm with Harry Lipsig and his partners in 1989; The firm’s focus is in products liability, personal injury, construction accidents, car accidents and medical malpractice.
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