With increases in safety protocols at job sites due to the coronavirus, new strategies have been implemented to comply with the CDC and governmental restrictions. For example, a simple strategy implemented by Clark Construction is to use videoconferencing to check on the status of a project and have real-time discussions surrounding issues with projects. This has allowed the company to comply with social distancing protocols and to ensure that the maximum amount of workers on a job site isn’t exceeded. Similarly, Skanska Construction is using an online platform called StructionSite to provide advanced 360-degree imagery and videos of the jobsites they are working on to provide a substitute for on-site status walkthroughs. They can also upload floor plans to this platform to compare them to the images generated from the job site.
The health monitoring firm, Kenzen, has developed a new system to help monitor construction workers’ body temperatures during the warmer months of the year. The device is a patch with a black arm band that would go around the worker’s bicep and has a mobile app that monitors their body temperature with the hope to avoid the adverse effects of heat-related illnesses. The arm band would allow supervisors to view metrics of the worker’s body temperature, allowing them to intervene prior to the worker becoming ill. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, construction workers are among those at the highest risk of heat exhaustion, particularly when working outdoors on roofing or roadway projects.
Although the device is not designed to detect a possible coronavirus infection, the inherent capabilities of the device could be crucial in detecting whether a worker is infected based on a rise in their body temperature. The safety manager would ultimately be responsible for assessing the reason for the spike in the body temperature increase, but quick responses to unusual increases in body temperature could lead to the isolation of workers and mitigate the spread of infections at job sites.
The patch is in limited release, but contractors are able to test the product now because it will be available for sale in the fall. Health experts warn that COVID-19 is unlike any infectious disease seen before. It is unclear whether a “second wave” of infections is likely to ensue, and what that second wave would look like – and, indeed, if a first wave is still underway nationwide in the U.S. and globally.
However, many infectious disease experts are speaking of a second wave of outbreaks, likely occurring in the fall months in the U.S. If the device operates as intended, implementation in the fall months could be extremely beneficial to monitoring the body temperatures of workers, and reducing the transmission of the virus.
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