Ensuring the safety of ground workers in the construction industry

The construction industry is currently booming in the UK. According to recent figures released in February by the Construction Equipment Association (CEA), retail sales of construction and earthmoving equipment were up 40% in 2021 compared to 2020.

Sales of major equipment types, such as road rollers, excavators and loaders, all increased by more than 50%, with telehandler sales more than doubling to 109% from the previous year .

Last year, the UK government announced a new super tax deduction. From April 1, 2021 to March 31, 2023, it is equivalent to £25 million in tax relief for companies investing in qualifying plant and machinery. There is no doubt that this has had a positive impact on construction equipment retail sales.

However, with this growth comes a greater potential for vehicle and worker-related collisions.

Ground workers on construction sites are particularly exposed to moving vehicles and equipment. Of the total number of fatal worker injuries in 2020/2021, 11% were struck by a moving object and 10% by a moving vehicle, while 4% were killed by moving machinery that struck them .

Blind spots on large vehicles and construction machinery can be particularly deadly. The front, rear and near side are problem areas of vehicles, especially those with elevated driver positions. Difficult construction sites, where thick dust and mud often further reduce visibility, further increase the risk of accidents.

On construction sites, the need for safety is paramount, especially since the slightest mistake can have devastating consequences.

Emily Hardy, Commercial Vehicle Safety Specialist at Brigade Electronics UK, said:

“Around 70% of site incidents occur during initial machine start-up and low-speed travel due to poor visibility. Construction sites can be extremely harsh and unpredictable environments. security at all times can be extremely difficult.

Smart technology helps solve the problem of restricted visibility and blind spots in material handling areas. These include the very latest in RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) technology, such as Brigade’s Zonesafe proximity warning system.

Emily continued:

“We have worked with our trusted partners in Scotland, Banlaw Systems, Tayside Contracts, Andover Trailers and JCB Stewart Plant Sales, to provide solutions that will help improve efficiency, improve environmental and safety performance, as well as offer rapid on-site response for fitting and repairs in the event system failure.

“Together we are focused on bringing to market ever-evolving technology, designed specifically for construction vehicles and machinery, that will help make roads and work sites safer. These include a range of products that will be showcased at ScotPlant 2022 in April, such as Brigade’s 360 HD MDR with BRIDGE – a high definition recordable vehicle CCTV system with cloud connectivity – sound DVS Safe System Kitm bbs-tek® Its white® reverse alarms and, of course, ZoneSafe.

Ideal for construction sites, ZoneSafe uses vehicle-mounted antennas that communicate with detector beacons, which can be worn by workers, installed in restricted areas, or placed on objects or property. When a badge enters a detection zone, the driver of the vehicle automatically receives a visual and audible alert via the in-cab control unit, allowing him to take the necessary measures. Tags worn by workers on foot will also vibrate to warn of approaching vehicles.

Thanks to RFID technology, which does not require line-of-sight, tags will be detected regardless of obstacles, blind spots, adverse weather conditions or poor visibility. Each tag can be uniquely identified and linked to individual people.

Emily continued:

“This technology is ideal for all types of construction vehicles that frequently operate near workers and other machinery. The system provides fast, reliable and accurate data exchange without any limitations on the number of beacons or antennas in operation, making it perfect for large areas such as busy construction sites.

As the number of construction sites increases, more will need to be done to address the issue of improving safety in areas where machinery and ground workers operate.

Emily added:

“Driver training is obviously essential to ensure compliance with safety standards. However, vehicle safety technology can add an extra layer of security and peace of mind for operators who want to ensure their workplaces remain safe.

Banlaw Systems will be attending ScotPlant 2022 at the Royal Highland Centre, Edinburgh from Friday 22n/a to Saturday 23rd April and showcasing Brigade Electronics’ line of production and construction vehicle safety systems, including ZoneSafe. Find them at Avenue T, stand 4.

Alice F. Ponder