Social Distancing Tips, Construction Industry Technology Guide, Covid-19 Impact
Can Technology Help With Social Distancing on Construction Sites?
19 May 2020
Can Technology Help With Social Distancing Measures at Construction Sites?
After weeks of lockdown, it has now been announced that those in the construction industry should be returning to work. You may have been working through this period or perhaps you are now looking to bring staff back. Either way, the most important thing is safety and ensuring you and your staff can maintain social distancing.
The new rules set in place to establish a 2-metre distance between anyone who is not a member of your own household is essential to flattening the curve and reduce coronavirus cases across the country. While this practice may seem simple in principle, it can come with many obstacles.
What few may have realised is that technologies that already exist within the working world can be utilised to help with this and keep us all safe. Social distancing is likely to be with us for some time so it is imperative we get this right as soon as possible to ease the next few months or even the next year.
You may already have some of the below technology in the workplace or have considered investing in them in the past, now is the perfect time to make these changes and see how these tools can help you in more than just their intended use.
Avoid Others as Much as Possible
While it is good to implement social distancing on a day-to-day basis, it’s even better to try to avoid teams seeing each other at all.
Implementing shift-staggering is one of the most effective ways of doing this, without losing man-hours or having to cut team members from the workforce. However, if you are not used to doing this, it can become muddled, especially when you have your general work to focus on.
Cezanne HR’s unique HR Software allows you to create a cloud-based process that keeps track of shifts. This means you and your staff can access this information from home if needed and any shift changes can be easily communicated.
It also helps when booking in visitors so you can easily see when the quietest periods will be. By properly staggering shifts, you can do the most to keep everyone as far from each other as possible.
Artificial intelligence is already in the mainstream of many of our construction sites. Used for repetitive tasks, aiding to design buildings and powering machinery. However, this can also be used to keep PPE in check.
While so many construction workers will have the muscle memory to remember hard hats, hi-vis and other day-to-day PPE, if it is required of them to wear face masks or any other similar item to protect themselves and others against the virus, it can be easy to forget.
AI can be programmed to recognise human faces and determine if they are wearing the required attire for any task. Installing this at checkpoints throughout the site can quickly remind staff to dress appropriately.
Any site manager should know their construction site like the back of their hand. While that may be the case on the ground level, how well do you know your site from bird’s eye view?
Using drones can be incredibly effective in getting an overview of the workplace. Using built-in cameras means maps can quickly be created to determine the size of areas and how far away they are.
The whole team must know how many people should be in one area at a time and exactly how far each station is from each other. This is why these photographs can pose a good use as reminders around your site at an easy glance.
Depending on the structure you are currently working on, you could often be visited by investors, clients or new homeowners awaiting completion.
We all understand those who have invested their own funds into your site would be keen to come and witness any progress for themselves, they should also understand that employee safety should take place over this.
However, we understand you want to keep these clients happy and maintaining positive relationships is crucial, especially at this time.
Using VR and AR to provide virtual walkthrough tours means you can have numerous people benefitting from visiting your site, without the dangers of coming in close contact with anybody else.
This could be anything from a fully immersive VR experience to simply a walkthrough with a video call and commentary.
We already have tracking technology in our phones, cars and smartwatches. This is now being implemented to help with social distancing.
Tech companies are quickly turning around new apps and other software you can use to help with distancing staff members.
Many of these include alerting when human bodies are closer than 2 meters, while also providing reading material as to why this distance is so imperative. Managers can also view this data to conclude if any staff need re-training in these new implementations.
There are already downsides to conventional deliveries of materials. Firstly, there is the inevitable wait time for these to arrive on-site, secondly, it adds to carbon emissions with extra delivery vehicles on the road.
Now there are even more disadvantages to consider, delivery drivers equate to another body on the site which could potentially bring something harmful within the workforce. It is also still advised to wait 72 hours before opening any packages to ensure the virus has not survived, hardly practical when these items are needed immediately.
Investing in a 3D printer means you do not have to worry about coming into contact with any external party. They also reduce waste, carbon emissions and will save you costs in the long-run. Having one situated on-site will considerably help with social distancing.
While it may be hard to make these changes in the first instance and could also come at a financial cost, we all must do what we can to prevent the spread of the virus and reduce the risk of a second wave. The sooner we all do our bit to maintain social distancing, the sooner we can return to ‘normal’.
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Design: OMA / Reinier de Graaf
photograph : Laurian Ghinitoiu, Courtesy of OMA
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