How Technology is Changing Working at Height

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Working in Challenging Environments: Working at Height

Working at height is an essential requirement in many industries, including construction and utilities, and presents a number of unique challenges for workers. In this article we’ll explore how technological advancements are revolutionising the way we can work at height though, making it safer and more efficient than ever before. 

According to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), falls from height were responsible for 30% of all fatal injuries to workers in 2022/23. It is therefore a key HSE concern for businesses to implement the necessary precautions and latest safety solutions to help combat these risks.  

In recent years, technology has ushered in a new era of safety and efficiency for working at height, bringing forth new tools to improve physical safety and improved compliance. In this article we’ll explore how Extended Reality and improved connectivity are contributing to this. 

How can Extended Reality improve working at height?

Extended Reality smart glasses can empower users by providing them with hands-free, uninterrupted access to the information they need. Delivered via a head’s up display, which sits just below the eyeline (as opposed to over the eye), workers maintain a clear field of vision while accessing the data and support they need at a downwards glance.

This capability can be indispensable when working at height, especially for those adhering to the three-point contact rule (one hand, two feet). By utilising voice control, Extended Reality ensures that the worker’s hands are kept free to solely support their safety and work requirements, while effortlessly providing information in various formats such as text, videos, images, and diagrams, enhancing the user’s situational awareness.

Extended Reality smart glasses, like those provided by industry leaders Realwear and Vuzix, can also enhance efficiency when working at height. By providing features such as live streaming, real-time assistance from remote workers, and on-demand access to necessary documents, it empowers workers to stay connected and well-informed.

Reducing the need for workers to repeatedly come to the ground for information or guidance, this improved access to data and support can help to increase first time fix and installation rates. Additionally, the ability to do “see-what-I-see” video calls via Extended Reality smart glasses can significantly reduce the need for multiple workers in the same location. Allowing a single remote expert to support multiple resources out in the field, this can help to reduce costs and optimise resource utilisation.

A compelling use case of this technology’s impact can be seen in China’s State Grid deployment of RealWear headsets. The headsets provided real-time remote assistance for live line maintenance, allowing workers to access the data they need without using their hands. Key takeaways included:

  • Improved team support when handling dangerous procedures.
  • Help mitigating accidents while still speeding maintenance procedures.
  • Improved PPE compliance due to hands-free computing, allowing workers to keep on their insulated gloves (can’t be worn to operate touch screens).
  • Infrared support during inspections.

To explore this deployment further, you can learn more here.

How can improved connectivity help workers at height?

For modern workforces, establishing a reliable connection is vital for even the most fundamental tasks – and this includes supporting workers at height. For increased flexibility and “take with you” capabilities, often needed to support workers at height, adopting a 4G/5G connectivity solution can provide instant, secure, and dependable connectivity wherever and whenever it is needed.  

Many work sites with height requirements often demand a ruggedised solution capable of withstanding challenging and sometimes hazardous conditions. Solutions like the Rapid Connectivity Case (RCC) offer a ruggedised and portable 4G or 5G solution to support a variety of workers, connecting them to the systems and information they need to work effectively and efficiently. For workers at height, a portable solution like the RCC can be taken onto elevated platforms and be secured by the handle easily. Or, for those on a ladder for example, the RCC can simply be positioned near the base wherever the ladder is needed.

Discover more about the latest solutions for challenging environments

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