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Can Smart Glasses Make Construction Sites Safer?

Builders serious about improving their construction safety records may soon be asking workers to trade in their current safety glasses for a new, “smarter” pair.

These aren’t your traditional safety glasses, the kind that shield the wearer’s eyes from dust and debris. Today’s glasses are connected, hands-free communication tools that, when combined with augmented reality (AR) technologies, have the potential — literally — to change the way you look at job site safety.

Accident prevention: Construction workers switch between drawings, specifications and phone calls to perform a complex assignment. AR smart glasses offer a safer alternative. Information appears directly in the wearer’s field of view, leaving their hands free to focus on the task at hand.

Constructors can also use these technologies to control access to dangerous or restricted areas. Employees lacking safety clearances can be automatically notified via their glasses if they breach virtual geofencing created using Bluetooth or GPS technologies.

These technologies have great potential to protect worker health. Nuclear facility operators can warn workers through their glasses if sensors show radiation levels are rising. New smart shirts that track heart rate and body temperature can be connected to alert workers and their supervisors via AR smart glasses when individuals are at risk of anything from heat exhaustion to muscle fatigue.

Incident management: When a safety incident occurs, lifesaving minutes can pass while safety teams work to identify the injured and secure the work site. AR smart glasses can slash that time to seconds. A GPS function can instantly conduct digital headcounts, locate workers and track missing personnel. Injured workers’ vital signs can be monitored via the smart clothing they are wearing while awaiting the arrival of medical personnel.

Emergency response: AR smart glasses can speed emergency response as well. Armed with injured workers’ biometric data and geolocations, EMTs can triage patients and navigate a site to attend to them. Geofencing software, likewise, can be programmed to guide uninjured workers to safety.

And that’s just the beginning. Can AR smart glasses really create safer construction sites? In a word, yes.

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Zachary Wassenberg
Written by Zachary Wassenberg
Zachary Wassenberg works in substations and augmented technologies, focusing on transmission and distribution engineer-procure-construction (EPC) projects. He spearheads investigation and implementation of augmented and virtual reality technologies in the utility and construction world.

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