Gary Escott is the co-founder of SiteZone Safety, he has worked in the field of mobile plant safety for 15 years and has worked on the introduction of technology based safety products across other sectors. His goal is reducing the risk of collisions between vehicles and vulnerable persons using innovative products and technology.
Why it’s important to celebrate the evolution of technology in safety culture.
When we introduced SiteZone, we realised that technology had a major part to play in raising safety standards. The crux was to identify the greatest risks and adapt technology to mitigate them with optimal efficiency.
Collision risk is the subject that resonates most with me and so that was the area of risk I focused on. My fears about the risk aren’t unfounded; the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) reported that between 2016-2017, 137 workers were killed at work. Of that number, 31 people died to due to workplace vehicle collisions. That’s 31 families, groups of friends and colleagues affected by the loss of someone who should have ended their working day safe and sound.
Then as we progressed with our development of SiteZone, positive user feedback inspired us to create variations of the system that carry out different proximity warning functions. These variations are the result of an understanding of those identified ‘holes’ in collision safety that had not yet been filled.
Our basic concept has evolved into a varied suite of safety tools: there’s smart clothing, the UK’s first wireless proximity warning system, tailored proximity warning systems for use on dumpers or plant with extendable parts like buckets and anti-collision features for forklifts.
The safety capability has extended where most needed.
As we continue to develop SiteZone we are also reminded that improved safety affects health. An employee’s sense of well-being affects not only their work life, but their personal life. If they are constantly worried about collision risks at work, then stress levels are bound to increase. I think this is more significant for plant operators on busy sites where they use large machinery with blind spots. Not knowing where pedestrians are around you for much of the time adds extra mental pressure. However, we know that such stresses can be alleviated with astute development and use of technology.
We didn’t give up on innovation, but instead embraced it. More importantly, we listened to end-users talk about daily problems they faced, and what they thought compromised their safety and the safety of their colleagues. Without this input the innovation has no meaning or purpose; everything that we do must fulfil a specific need.
That’s why I think it’s so important for all parties concerned – employers, employees, health & safety professionals – to think beyond the conventional when it comes to workplace safety. Imagine what tools would make working environments safer and then let’s try and create them together.
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