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Wearable tech can enhance construction zone safety

While technology has its advantages and disadvantages, the advent of wearable technology should hopefully lead to an overall net benefit in construction zone safety.

For example, take a particularly hot day. Via biometric sensors, managers can keep an eye on construction workers' temperatures, heart rates and other indicators to ensure no one is becoming dangerously exhausted. Similarly, RFID technology in vests and hats can help ensure all workers are safely accounted for before heavy equipment begins to back up. In fact, the news is so good you might think there could be no downside.

A false sense of confidence

The downside is not due to the technology, per se, but rather relates to how humans react. That is, technology can give people a false sense of security and confidence. A basic example would be adaptive cruise control and rapid braking in cars. In many cases, they keep drivers safe, but in some situations, drivers let down their guard and do things such as texting or tidying up the car when they are behind the wheel. The lack of attention to the road can still result in a crash.

A similar principle applies to construction zones. The use of technology to increase safety should not lead to a decrease in safety measures in other areas. Managers should still take common-sense preventative measures for heat exhaustion such as frequent breaks instead of fully relying on technology to notify them when a worker may be approaching a risky temperature. Nor should a construction worker feel safe darting without warning in front of a heavy piece of equipment just because there has been no alert it is about to move.

All this seems like a bit of a paradox, but fortunately, smart and competent managers and companies should be able to balance the many factors that come into play.

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