Smart Sensors for Jobsite Safety: How Contractors Can Tap into Their Life-Saving Value

Recent advancements in construction safety have evolved technology taking over jobsite surveillance—to provide stronger insights into the day-to-day instead of leaving room for error caused by human misjudgment.

One in five construction workers dies on site annually, constituting a major chunk of occupational fatalities recorded of all industries.

15 percent of the total workers’ compensation costs go into treating workers injured at a construction site.

The construction industry spends a staggering 71 percent more on workers’ compensation than all goods-producing industries combined. That goes well over the average cost for an average employer in other industries.

Looking at the risk-fraught volatile nature of an industry mired in lawsuits, it pays every penny to invest in safety programs.

Smart sensors have long entered the picture but await a widespread embrace. Mounted across jobsite zones, safety sensors read humidity and moisture levels, rebar corrosion, water content, shrinkage cracking potential, and setting time, and real-time construction activity to report back to the office on a cloud data platform.

Sites have turned more unpredictable with inclement weather conditions worsened by climate change. Most projects don’t carry a comprehensive jobsite safety plan to protect workers from fire, water, and structural damages. These risks can cost companies millions, even billions, of dollars in damage claims.

Preventing damages of this scale needs acting on data gathered over time. Superintendents can keep tabs on the extent of drilling-caused dust to spread all over the site, which can potentially expose workers to hazardous chemicals over the entire lifecycle of the job.

Safety, when detailed for individual jobs, enables better compliance with OSHA guidelines as most construction claims to arise from workers’ compensation lawsuits. When charged with such claims, contractors are caught unawares, left with little credible evidence to back their court arguments. Tech companies developing smart sensors are trying to change that. This source breaks down OSHA safety parameters with critical safety management tips for projects.

When clients sign up for sensor technology, they receive daily site data in reference to worker activity, protecting from career-ending eventualities.

Let’s look at how sensors enhance construction jobsite safety.

Concrete Embedded Sensors Monitor Mixing Quality

Being the top material in use, concrete ingredients are readily available for building foundations, high-rise structures, and most civil infrastructure. It’s counted on for its strength and durability that holds the most significance for structures meant to stand for decades.

Concrete retains its strength under favourable curing conditions between cement and water during the initial days of its mixing. This turns concrete from a liquid to solid form, which can be monitored when mounted with sensors to track progress and developing issues that can be corrected before a ton of useless concrete gets churned out.

Monitoring concrete over the lifecycle of a building can help keep tabs on the effect of weather on its longevity and schedule maintenance to prevent potential disintegration should a lot of undetected moisture get contained.

Testing Structural Strength with Smart Sensors

Concrete longevity determines if construction operations involving road openings, saw cutting, and formwork removal can be kicked off. Sensors read if the concrete is settled enough to initiate structural use lest debilitating damages abound contractors who rely on false accuracy of concrete strength.

Warding off imminent dangers of delays and errors, sensors mounted across a structure tell whether the material is at the required strength level. Traditionally, strength gets tested using sample cylinder cast from the building’s concrete material—an archaic method that causes delays given that these cylinders are shipped from offsite locations to laboratories. Applying this method gives inaccurate measurements of the material readiness across the whole structure; as a result, it can lead to added delays.

Reversing the perils of inaccuracy, Internet of Things (IoT) developments in electronics such as low-energy and long-range Bluetooth have made the lives of engineers easier—they can easily integrate such wireless sensors into the construction workflows. Contractors receive ongoing progress updates about the hardening and curing of concrete to chart the next steps of the project.

Integrating Smart Sensors with IoT

A fresh breed of IoT solutions uses electrical resistivity measurement and electrical pulse response to gain instant results on the concrete’s condition and structural performance.

Taking them into account, predicting the state of concrete materials and structures has improved as it allows for a more holistic assessment of the build quality and safety while optimizing schedules.

Are Smart Sensors Here to Stay?

If that’s still a question for you, it’s perhaps time to change the lens you’ve been looking through.

Construction project managers are pressed to deliver with a perpetually shrinking construction budget and shortening timelines. Growing ineptitude among project managers to handle technology will only worsen that—unless, of course, we let devices designed to aid human expertise take root in the way design-build-operate processes are executed.

Making sense of data only using sensors won’t generate insights—it needs to be paired with construction management software that assimilates overall project data into a coherent end result, which is to build better and smarter for the global society.

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