Road workers trial new wearable tech

AMEY highway engineers have been testing out new wearable technology, which has been designed to reduce risks to drivers and lone workers by detecting when the body is under stress.

Devices including a collar drowsiness detector and an ear clip measuring changes in blood flow – which can be an indicator of attention loss and a sign of fatigue – were piloted over the course of a recent eight-week project.

Mike Kehoe, principal engineer for intelligent transport systems for Amey said, “We are always looking for ways to increase worker safety and wearable safety technology has huge possibilities.

“Our eight week trial on Highways England’s North East Regional Technology Maintenance Contract really put it through its paces.

“Every member of staff on that contract drives a vehicle and can be out at any time of the day or night, in all weathers or in locations like embankments and next to live traffic.

“We found that the tech is transferable to other situations and could potentially provide a wealth of data about the wellbeing of our people which will help us improve general safety.”

A wristband also monitored vital signs and environmental factors, alerting workers to signs of heat stress and providing information such as a sudden change in posture and the wearer’s exertion level.

There was also a location badge which, when activated by the wearer, sends out an alert allowing help to be dispatched in the event of a threat or injury.

Mike added, “We have more work to do to evaluate the market and look at ways to make the tech useable every day for our people.

“It’s definitely the future, and many organisations, including Highways England, are looking at the concept.

“By putting our workers first we are on the way to making it a reality.”