Smart, Connected and Protected.
Hard Hats that Work Hard on the Construction Site
We’ve blogged before about the many technological advances hitting your local construction site. By leaps and bounds, we’re witnessing an industry as old as time itself (the first known building considered “constructed” dates back to a site in Turkey between 9500-8000 BCE) launch into the 22nd century with technological advancements in a number of areas.
The connected, or “Smart,” hard hat is a further example of construction site innovation that works hard not just at protecting the wearer but also in providing useful information on location, motion, temperature and as a communications tool. What’s smart, connected and offers protection too? A hard hat that works hard on the construction site!
The first hard hats appeared on construction sites in 1919 and were produced employing a process involving steam and canvas. Now provided by employers, hard hats are predominantly fabricated from high density polyethylene or thermoplastics materials and for safety reasons, should be replaced about every 5 years. We’re all familiar of course with the most common colors that signify specific job functions on the construction site, but “fashion” is now making a statement as this gear can also be found in an array of “camo-coloured” options as well.
What’s changed most significantly however, (and most recently), is the role of a hard hat. It’s purpose is no longer simply focused on protecting a worker from falling overhead debris or even electrical hazards, rather, it’s evolving as a crucial tool that integrates and delivers up to date information contributing both to worker safety and worker & job site efficiencies.
Intelligent hard hats provide sensor-based information such as contextual awareness of surroundings, audio-visual communications, wireless connectivity and hands-free video or audio calls, to name just a few of their options. Offering real-time positioning, they can help to warn workers of hazardous conditions on the job site or more directly, monitor the temperature of the wearer to help improve worker health and safety. Workers who are on remote work-site locations can communicate directly with off-site experts to handle challenging situations or even to notify when they are in need of help. A smart, connected hard hat helps to warn workers of moving equipment nearby while it also assists logistics teams to manage inventory control, worker safety planning and even time and attendance monitoring.
Knowit recently offered this summary of the use of smart hard hats as tools on the construction site that will:
- Help to minimize the risk of accidents on the job site
- Help to improve team leadership and work planning
- Help to achieve more effective health and security monitoring and
- Help to provide a “clearer workforce overview and better equipment monitoring including tracking and electronic timestamps.”
Smart, protected and connected workers are also able to contribute to onsite data collection that might enable positive reinforcement of on-the-job training techniques in real time. It may even enhance and improve the type of on-the-job training that employees receive, resulting in greater efficiencies. As well, utilizing smart hard hats could enable time and motion studies that will eventually contribute to further increases in efficiencies while still maintaining worker safety. Yet another positive potential outcome of hard hats that work hard!
When it comes to worker safety however, the very reason that hard hats were invented in the first place and the most significant aspect of a connected and smart hat is that with many models, the press of just one button will signal a call for help that can be received immediately – whether directly on the job site or sent from a remote work-site so that help can be summoned. Most are designed to work over cellular AND Wi-Fi networks as well as offline, ensuring employees are not only working smarter but safer too..