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.
Complementary safety technology that doesn’t re-write the safety handbook
The SiteZone proximity warning system (PWS), was never intended to replace existing safety protocols or methodology. It was supposed to be an addition – a complementary system to enhance what existed. That’s how SiteZone still works today – using RFID (radio frequency identification) to warn vehicle operators and pedestrians of a potential collision risk.
PWS continues to be a ‘friend’ to site and health and safety managers because it can be tailored easily to fit seamlessly with existing health and safety practices on their site(s).
It helps to make the protocols better, rather than making them obsolete. There’s no need for site managers to rewrite the safety handbook, because the existing safety practices have been formulated through common sense, observation and experience. Using an RFID proximity warning system like SiteZone and its variants offer an enhanced factor to the existing processes. The idea is to create an even stronger safety infrastructure in which workers can function. It must be a complement to existing practices, not a replacement.
In constrained spaces, like depots, sites and yards where personnel and vehicles are constantly interacting at close quarters, segregation methods are recommended to avoid collisions. This is physically achieved by traffic management, the provision of dedicated pedestrian walkways and safe placement of barriers to keep working vehicles and people apart.
Using a PWS as part of segregation practices, adds an extra element of safety awareness should vehicles and personnel stray into each other’s working areas despite traffic management measures.
Now that there’s a wireless version of SiteZone available, it can be used instantly on visiting vehicles or to segregate unsafe areas where it may be difficult to segregate physically. It also applies to areas that have become dangerous suddenly and immediate action needs to be taken.
In busy depots and sites there will always be crossing points where people and vehicles have a higher likelihood of interacting. The HSE makes it very clear that where such points exist there must be robust measures in place – signage and signals.
However, in the warehouse or depot scenario, where visibility may be obscured because of poor lighting, stacked crates or containers, visibility around corners and obstacles may compromise the safety of a crossing point, and this is where RFID PWS can make a difference. Crossing point alerts are achieved when RFID base stations are placed at ‘hot spots’ where collisions are at high risk of occurrence due to poor visibility between workers and forklifts.
The whole point is that we collaborate as safety professionals not compete with one another, because the joint aim is improving safety and ensuring that every worker can do their job safely and go back home unharmed at the end of day. Everyone has the right to work in a safe environment, and that is what evolving technology can help to achieve.
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