P&C Technosavvy the July/August 2017 issue

Safety Push

Q&A with Peter Schermerhorn, COO, Triax Technologies
By Michael Fitzpatrick Posted on July 24, 2017
From a workers comp perspective, why is there a need for devices that can promote safety on construction sites?
Construction is an inherently dangerous industry but one where technology can make things safer. Part of that is simply providing visibility and information. Knowing when workers are hurt and where they are on the site can get help to someone faster and substantially decrease the severity of injuries.

Right now, other than cell phones, there’s not a great way for workers to communicate if they’re injured or if they see something unsafe on the job site. Providing a wearable device that allows for a real-time communication of injuries tagged with an interior geolocation provides real, positive benefits.

What are the challenges in construction?
One of the biggest challenges is the very nature of construction itself. You’ve got a very chaotic environment with a workforce that’s changing daily. Different workers from different trades are coming and going. From an IT infrastructure standpoint, it’s incredibly challenging to deploy technology. You have heavy machinery that’s moving around, constantly changing the physical environment. Compare that to a factory floor where you have a fixed building, repetitive tasks and workers on a shift basis and you can start to see the difference and the challenges.
What is your technology and what does it do?
The “spot-r system” is a network connectivity solution for the jobsite. It consists of three components. The first is a mesh network that gets deployed on the construction site and provides that connectivity. The second is a device that the workers wear and is assigned to them in a safety briefing. The third is a dashboard that is available on any device that has an Internet connection.

The system allows you to know how many workers you have on a site and where they are in 3D space—what floor of the construction project and which zone of the floor in real time and historically. That’s paired with a host of safety features on the wearable, including a push button so an injured worker can send an automated alert to the safety supervisor’s phone with the worker’s name and location and an automated slip-trip-and-fall alert that sends the name and location of a worker who falls on site, whether that’s off a piece of machinery or down an elevator shaft. The entire system functions as an evacuation alert that can be triggered off the mobile dashboard.

Everything has very good power efficiency. There’s low to no maintenance from the worker’s standpoint, which is key. When you’re talking about wearable technology, if it’s not easy to use and it doesn’t provide real safety benefits, you’re going to have a hard time with compliance.

Where did the idea come from?
Triax was founded initially around a head impact monitoring technology to tackle the concussion crisis, particularly in youth sports. The company built a sensor-based wearable that went in a headband. It accurately kept track of the number of hits, the location of hits and the severity of hits to an athlete. The real breakthrough we achieved in that market was the ability to speak to many, many sensors over a wide geographic area with low power drive.
How does it affect workers comp?
It’s a multifaceted tool to attack some of the workers comp costs on a construction site. One important part is the ability to get to injuries faster, particularly if you have an on-site medic. There are also some proactive features that we believe will reduce claims over time. One of those is the behavior modification and enhancement to a safety culture that comes with someone putting a safety device like this on their belt every morning and knowing that if they push that button the safety supervisor gets an alert and needs to respond.

A lot of customers also use the push button for an unsafe work condition that needs attention. If you’re on a remote part of the site and you see a dangerous condition, instead of having to wait for the lift and find the safety supervisor and spend a good amount of time away from your work, the worker can simply push a button and know that someone will come and address the situation right away.


Michael Fitzpatrick Technology Editor Read More

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