Operator fatigue is one of the biggest dangers for any construction site and no one knows that more than someone at the wheel of a paving machine.
Fatigue can be caused by a number of factors; swapping from the day shift to night time working – or the reverse, problems sleeping during the night and a whole multitude of other reasons.
The one thing that a site manager is always on the lookout for, then, is something that can alert him to overtired team members.
Now, thanks to technology, that device might be here at long last.
The innovation has been acquired by Caterpillar and is now available as a series of integrated systems designed to promote safety behind the wheel.
It is known as the Cat Smartband and can be worn around the wrist.
Up until recently, it has been used by mainly operators of large pieces of heavy machinery – for example, in mining.
This is especially necessary in mining, which is operational for 24 hours a day and also has long shifts for its workforce.
And as a paver, you will know that sometimes work must be carried out at irregular times, when working on highways and other busy roads. This can also mean all night working and result in significant in tiredness for staff.
SO HOW DOES IT WORK?
When a driver arrives for work, the Smartband scans them to assess their fatigue level. This then provides the site manager with a figure that represents their risk factor for the day’s (or the night’s) work.
The worker then wears the wristband for the remainder of their shift.
This is where the Driver Safety System (DSS) really comes into play.
The DSS detects fatigue by monitoring the head position and whether the driver’s eyes are open.
If the system detects fatigue, it delivers a vibration to the operator’s seat and sets off an alarm within the cab to alert him.
Also alerted is the fleet monitoring center, so the company also know one of their operators is fatigued.
Although this piece of wearable technology is owned by Caterpillar, it is not the only innovation that can help monitor fatigue in the workplace.
Triax Technologies, based in Connecticut, has produced a sensor which fits to a belt and can be used to track workers in dangerous conditions, in case of injury or accident.
Although the aim for these technologies is staff safety, it is also being used as a way of boosting productivity by allowing managers to model shifts around minimizing worker fatigue.