NSC Looks to Geofencing to Advance Safety

NSC Looks to Geofencing to Advance Safety

May 13, 2024
Location geofencing allows users to create virtual barriers which enables real-time monitoring and alerts.

On May 9, the National Safety Council (NSC) released a new white paper, Advancing Workplace Safety with Location Geofencing, to shed light on the potential of this technology and how it can significantly reduce the risk of serious incidents and fatalities, or SIFs, in various industries.

Despite increased efforts to reduce SIFs in the workplace over the last few decades, the percentage of worker deaths has only fallen by about 15%, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. 

Recognizing the severity of this issue, the NSC launched the Work to Zero initiative in 2019 to help reverse this devastating trend through the use of technology. 

"Workers on active jobsites are often exposed to situations that pose a high risk for SIFs, including construction, vehicle-pedestrian interactions and heavy equipment operation," said John Dony, vice president of workplace strategy at NSC, in a statement. "Acknowledging how this is a major concern for workers across many industries, this report provides invaluable insights into leveraging location geofencing technology to mitigate risks and help ensure employee wellbeing, which is the ultimate goal of the  Work to Zero initiative."

Often integrated into existing safety technologies like proximity sensors, wearables and vehicle monitoring systems, location geofencing allows users to create virtual barriers around defined areas, such as construction sites or machine operating zones. This enables real-time monitoring and alerts when workers enter or leave designated zones, enhancing their safety.

 For example, when an object, like a worker or equipment, enters or exits the area, predetermined actions are triggered, such as logging the event, alerting workers of potential hazards, or disabling machinery.

Developed through a comprehensive literature review and collaboration with industry professionals, the white paper presents an in-depth exploration of location geofencing and its various use cases in safety-sensitive industries, such as construction, logging and forestry, manufacturing and utilities. Some key benefits identified were:

  • Risk mitigation: The technology serves as an effective risk mitigation tool by alerting workers and supervisors of potential hazards, improving situational awareness, and enabling two-way communication for workers.
  • Enhanced worksite visibility: Geofencing increases worksite visibility, enabling data-informed decisions for site planning and safety measures.
  • Improved efficiency: Automation of safety processes reduces the need for continuous human supervision, optimizing resource allocation and safety management.

While the report examines the benefits of location geofencing, additional research is needed to fully understand its effectiveness across many situations in the workplace. Some barriers to widespread adoption for employers include:

  • Privacy concerns: Worker concerns regarding data privacy and security must be addressed through transparent communication and strong data privacy policies.
  • Resource investments: High initial capital and resource investments may hinder adoption, necessitating careful evaluation of the technology's utility and integration capabilities.
  • Technological limitations: Accuracy and reliability issues, as well as compatibility with existing systems, should be considered during the procurement process.

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