If it isn’t already, proximity monitoring will be all over your radar, and that of every one of your competitors who are working towards a safer workplace.

So, what is it?

Proximity monitoring lets workers, supervisors and systems detect, actively or passively, in real-time, the distance between man, machine, a specific location and/or vehicle. 

Once a person, piece of equipment or a vehicle comes into a preset range of the sensor-communicator (generally a transmitter/receiver-combo), a warning, data and/or command is sent back to the sensor, system and/or warning device. 

How does it work?

Most often proximity monitoring works through a combination of sensors and wire free transmitters and receivers. The prevailing sensor methods are radio frequencies, Bluetooth, infrared and in some cases specialized lasers. 

These sensors measure the – safe to potentially hazardous – distance or proximity. For instance between two vehicles, or a forklift driver and the on foot colleagues he shares the workspace with.

 

“A new generation of proximity monitoring hardware and software that is immensely superior to previous systems in every aspect”

 

Why now?

Tech innovators and pioneers have created a new generation of proximity monitoring hardware and software that is immensely superior to previous systems in every aspect. They have greater autonomy and work over longer distances, a necessity to be applicable in industrial situations. But they are also more compact, reliable, precise, user friendly and versatile. 

This opened up a rapidly growing number of practical applications. Some of which have already scored promising results in worker safety.  

Also worth noting: modern proximity monitoring systems demand a relatively low infrastructure cost, since they leverage existing network and IT-resources. 

Current applications in worker safety

Proximity Monitoring can be utilized for mitigating work hazards in excavation and construction sites, loading and unloading areas, the operation of heavy equipment and vehicle-pedestrian interactions. 

‘Caught-between’ and ‘struck-by’ are two of OSHA’s ‘Fatal Four’ leading causes of workplace injuries and fatalities. These incidents occur mostly because of 

  • Blind spots for operators or drivers.
  • On foot workers not being able to hear alarms due to equipment malfunction or environmental noise. 
  • Pedestrians not noticing a moving vehicle behind them.
  • Drivers or operators wrongly assuming the area is clear.

The benefits

Direct benefits

Proximity monitoring systems can be tailor made to tackle all the above mentioned causes for workplace injuries or worse. It can protect vehicle operators from accidental collisions with stationary equipment, other vehicles and pedestrians. It allows limiting worker accessibility for hazardous zones. And proximity monitoring has proven to be of great use in evacuation and lone worker scenarios.

Indirect benefits

Proximity monitoring not only has the potential to avoid accidents as they were about to happen, but also assists in preventing future ones. 

It can simultaneously serve as a powerful and multi-faceted tool to register and analyze incidents, as well as non-reported near misses. It allows for the mapping and detection of previously unknown higher risk areas. 

Proximity monitoring can also identify dangerous behavior and help ensure that safety standards and rules are enforced.

So …

f you haven’t already – or have but weren’t completely on board the last time you did – it’s definitely worth looking into proximity monitoring (again). It’s proving itself a permanent, adaptable and future proof tool in the modern safety toolkit. 

By identifying these risks and hazards, and taking corrective action to eliminate them, the company will be better placed to avoid incidents in the future.