Enhancing safety and productivity on design-build projects

,Figure 1 Construction worker operating an all-in-one video and access control management system.

Related technologies such as access control systems (Figure 1) can also be leveraged to restrict access to only qualified personnel. For example, a worker may not be able to access parts of a building or a construction site if their access control profile (and by extension their access card) does not have the right attributes to match the training required to be in a particular area or zone (e.g. confined space, working at heights training).

In 2018, It was estimated building project sites suffer a loss of more than $46 million a year due to vandalism and theft.4 This number has gone up since, and deployable surveillance ensures a site is adequately monitored and allows architects, engineers, and site managers to be connected to security and access control systems in real-time. This makes it possible to identify bad actors and suspect activity before intrusion, as well as visually verify what is happening before taking action to prevent damages and subsequent losses.

There are scenarios which can result in the architect/engineer or a manager/company being faulted. Connected surveillance solutions can also lend itself to post-incident investigation and can identify where an unsafe or site situation occurred. This way architects on-site can take measures with proper signage, protective barriers, or increased surveillance mechanisms, such as audio warnings. Integrating smart surveillance systems along with secure access systems will keep workers and equipment safe, potentially saving lives and money at the same time.

Having audio and mass notification in place

When large projects can involve more than 700 workers being on-site at any given moment, safety solutions must be able to effectively signal an emergency and instruct personnel to evacuate the site if needed. In the event of an emergency, whether it be a gas leak, first-aid scenario, or a major incident, surveillance should include a system which allows workers on-site to press an emergency button which engages all cameras, and all audio speakers or horns to instruct personnel to evacuate. This ensures they can evacuate safely and quickly.

Naturally, construction sites can get really loud. Audibility can pose a challenge, due to the acoustical properties of certain construction materials, high-volume activities such as welding and sawing, and the use of PPE. Some projects may make do with air horns which can notify workers all at once, but other projects may consistently output noise which outdoes the air horns. The last thing a site manager wants during an emergency is to announce the crisis through audio cues that workers are unable to hear.

On the high end of surveillance systems, companies will provide integrated network speakers, which are essentially loudspeakers designed for outdoor operations and provide clear, long-range speech and sound. Audio can be heard clearly across entire job sites, regardless of PPE use, and all personnel can be simultaneously notified of any emergencies. Surveillance systems with integrated speakers can broadcast to all units simultaneously, or individually as necessary. Pre-recorded messages, live audio, or recorded sounds, such as air-raid sirens for maximum attention-grabbing effect, can be played manually or automatically, depending on predefined triggers. Beyond emergencies, these robust systems can function as general public address systems for announcements.

Compact, high-quality surveillance body cameras are becoming increasingly common for more than just liability purposes.

Averting risk and emergencies with solid management

Smart surveillance solutions can prove invaluable during emergency situations. Since architects, engineers, and specifiers must also adhere to all public and on-site worker health and safety ordinances, they should play a role in helping their on-site team evaluate the type, scope, and severity of an emergency, and keep track of the number of workers in each area of a facility. They can assess and help in safe and prepared evacuation, for example creating a plan of action for smoke detection, planning, and tracking the flow of evacuation through the building site and even supporting rescue teams. With today’s modern surveillance technologies, management is heightened with the ability to identify risks in real-time and take immediate steps to mitigate them. Connected cameras and solutions such as network audio and intelligent analytics allow architects to configure systems to spot dangerous zones, equipment, and behaviours and address general contractors directly.

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