Incorporating technology with items worn on the person, intelligent systems become a part of everyday personal protective equipment, enhancing safety without disrupting operations.
Technology has become a regular part of our everyday lives. From paying for goods to mapping our fitness, we are all used to some aspect of tech to support our daily activities. By harnessing new innovative developments, it is possible to meet many everyday challenges, and safety is one key area that has significantly benefited from technological advances.
Safety technology comes in many forms. Recent years have seen the development of a wide range of solutions that have the power to address workplace safety concerns efficiently. By incorporating such solutions with items worn on the person, intelligent systems become a part of everyday personal protective equipment (PPE), enhancing safety without disrupting operations. Workers can be monitored and alerted in real-time to safety hazards through physical, visual, or audible prompts. This approach is highly effective in circumstances with significant safety risks, such as areas where people and vehicles operate in close proximity and where there is a risk of collision.
Accidents involving moving vehicles at work are exceptionally dangerous, with vehicle/pedestrian collisions repeatedly reported as being one of the leading causes of worker fatal and severe non-fatal accidents in the workplace. In 2022–23, 135 people suffered fatal accidents in UK workplaces, 20 of which were from being hit by a moving vehicle. Of 27 deaths in the waste and recycling sector over a 5-year period (2017–22), 10 were from being hit by a moving vehicle.
Nonfatal accidents can be equally devastating, resulting in life-changing and often debilitating injuries that ruin lives. It is estimated almost 1,400 people were seriously injured by vehicle strikes in the workplace in the period between 2014–15 and 2022–23. Events such as these occur year after year, so it’s clear that finding solutions that help to reduce the numbers is undoubtedly a positive step.
Proximity warning systems offer a flexible and straightforward solution to address this risk. The ZoneSafe system incorporates a small tag individuals wear, which becomes part of standard daily PPE. The tag is worn on a lanyard, placed in a pocket, or attached to clothing, work boots, or a helmet.
The system also includes an antenna or “detection unit” fitted to manual handling equipment such as forklifts, loaders, and other vehicles. The system uses radio frequency identification (RFID) technology to create an adjustable, invisible detection zone around each vehicle. The vehicle and personal tags interact to form a line of communication, which raises the alarm when vehicles and pedestrians come into close proximity. The system delivers an audio/visual alarm to the driver while the pedestrian receives a vibration warning from the tag as soon as the detection zone around the vehicle is breached. ZoneSafe has been applied across multiple high-risk industries with overwhelmingly positive results and significantly reduced safety breaches.
Workers are assigned a tag on entry alongside other protective equipment for controlled access workplaces. The ability to wear the system as part of everyday workwear makes it incredibly easy to apply without causing any disruption to work flow.