Tech advances to reduce harm

5th May 2023

Tech advances to reduce harm

ANTON FESTER Increasingly better solutions ensure workers can be tracked, checked and kept safe

Mining and heavy-duty industry fatalities are common globally, with risks higher than those attendant in pushing paper. However, technological advances can positively impact these industries to ensure such occurrences become the exception, rather than the norm, explains technology solutions specialists Sedna Industrial IT Solutions director Anton Fester.

“When we recently celebrated a fatality-free January, my biggest wish was for this to continue for many more months. However, there is nothing stopping us repeating these successes with a broader rollout of innovative, smart digital solutions, which continue to evolve.”

He explains that the biggest challenge currently is there are very few solutions that offer an integrated approach that allows the combination of high-quality solutions.

Another challenge is complacency. It is important for companies to harness better tech for the safety of workers.

“A little bit of competition will go a long way to ensure entire sectors work harder and faster at adopting safe digital solutions,” says Fester.

He refers to a seminal study by advisory firm Deloitte, ‘On the road to zero harm’, which explains that the conditions are now in place to move the dial toward the goal of zero harm through the use of predictive analytics and wearables.

Currently, technologies gaining attention include an array of hard hats, watches, clothing, eyeglasses, and more, designed to deliver various benefits – from collision avoidance and environmental monitoring to fatigue management and personal injury reduction.

Fester notes that in doing so, companies will likely need to integrate different data pools and systems, while more proactively driving industry collaboration.

“The report is quite right to note that if this does not happen, we may still be highlighting the potential for improvement a few years from now, without having seen much progress.”

Building Partnerships
Sedna Industrial IT Solutions has made strides on the integration through an alliance with Internet-of-things technology company Guard Hat, which helps the company move away from becoming a hardware ecosystem and a platform provider to becoming a platform integrator.

“This model essentially give specialists the space to do their thing – they can manage their development cycle and other elements – as long as the system delivers the best solution,” Fester says.

He adds that he recently travelled to Silicon Valley, in the US, to look for other specialists in safety to partner with to add a connectivity layer and integrate it to the safety system, tailored to specific industry needs, for a powerful, collaborative answer to managing risk.

Fester explains that Sedna aims to operate in any industries that require a hard hat, safety glasses and risk assessments in operational areas. The future will truly be an integration of platforms where all hardware components are integrated into a hazardous environment. Such hardware include video, voice over Internet protocol mechanism, environmental monitoring and location services like geofencing.
Vast Benefits
“It continues to amaze me that connected worker functionality can be achieved with something the size of a cigarette box – a device that sits in a pocket and connects to a network, and other devices like a gas monitor that would, in turn, connect with an integration hub,” says Fester.

He elaborates that workers can use bioband, which also connects to the device and network. Such integration can have “outsized benefits in terms of safety, efficiency and operational excellence”.

“Simply put, quite apart from injuries or tragedies, there is no business out there that can afford downtime caused by safety-related emergencies and shutdowns.”

Fester explains that such technology can be used to geolocate and track workers to such a degree that it will send an alert when someone not trained on a certain machine has approached and is within 3 m of the machine. It is also able to tag visitors to make sure they remain in designated areas.

With adverse weather events on the rise, users can even assimilate data to issue warnings that can save lives, for instance should a dam wall collapse, or provide time to get masks and other equipment in the event of a gas leak.