Canadian Contractor

John Bleasby   

A revolution in accident prevention through wearable technology?

Canadian Contractor

A British expert on data science consultancy believes it’s already started. And with it comes increases in productivity.

Contrary to some, Anthony Mullen believes increased safety legislation in recent years has demonstratively reduced accidents and injuries, but has not negatively impacted construction productivity. Quite the contrary. In a guest column for Construction Dive magazine on-line (U.S.), London-based Mullen  (from U.K. consultancy group Profusion)claims “with the advent of new technology like wearable devices and developments in data science, construction is set to undergo another revolution that will bring safety and productivity to unprecedented levels.”

Read: Data consultant: How to construct ‘smart’ sites through wearables and data science

Mullen believes that we will see more wearable device, similar to Fitbits, Apple watches, smartglasses, smartgloves, even wearable batteries that will result in a new wave of applications to improve safety and productivity. “Smart clothing should be of particular interest to the construction industry when considering the curious fact that construction safety apparel has remained relatively unchanged for the past 50 years.” says Mullen.

For example, GPS tracking will advise workers if heavy equipment is operating nearby or will alert them as to what wires might be ‘live’ on and around the work site. There is also the possibility of health alerts when a worker assumes an incorrect posture when lifting materials, thus preventing a spinal or muscular injury.


Smart glasses could put installation instructions right before the eyes of a technician, thus increasing installation speed and reducing errors.

Numerous tablet and smart phone applications have already found their way onto even small and medium sized building sites across the country, used for such tasks as estimating and contractor/supplier/inspector communications. More are on their way. Interactive devices that will allow supervisors to see work in progress through the eyes of workers (via their wearable devices) will allow quick changes and optimisation of labour assignments as required, albeit with the customary concerns regarding supervisory access and privacy.

However, the overall objective is for increased efficiency and productivity, and a reduction in accidents and errors, all leading to a more progressive and satisfactory building experience for all those involved.


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