Technology

Interserve trials on-site social distancing warning system

5 May 2020

Technology to aid social distancing on site is being trialled by Interserve at the NEC Birmingham, where it is in the final phase of development of the new Nightingale Hospital to provide critical care beds for Covid-19 patients.

Proximity warning specialist SiteZone Safety has supplied six of its personnel distancing systems (PDS) to Interserve Construction to help enforce the “two-metre rule” of social distancing on the construction site.

SiteZone normally makes proximity warnings for construction machinery but developed a prototype to help enforce social distancing during the coronavirus pandemic.

Wearable tags vibrate if workers using the system get too close to each other

The PDS consists of a 2kg pack and a detection ‘tag’ that can be worn on a hard hat, attached to a belt or strapped to the upper arm. The system has 100 hours of rechargeable battery life.

The proximity alarms are triggered if workers get too close within set boundaries, at which point both their wearable tags will vibrate and the PDS sounds an alarm.

Interserve has designated two site safety ambassadors wear the PDS units full time and patrol the site to ensure remaining workers are observing the two-metre rule. If not, they are reminded with a demonstration using the PDS. The other four units are being rotated between different key tradespeople on site to reinforce social distancing and to raise spatial awareness.

Interserve site manager Stuart Palmer said: “We knew about SiteZone Safety’s proximity warning expertise, and they have been able to meet the challenge for us in record time. There was an urgent need to get NHS Nightingale Birmingham completed, so high standards of health and safety practice were key drivers to the success of this project. SiteZone Safety’s PDS solution helped us achieve both.”

Gary Escott, co-founder of SiteZone Safety, said: “We had an unusually short period of time to develop and produce a solution that we could deploy quickly. The biggest single advantage we have is that our PDS is built on proven technology, with over 125 million hours in use. The technology has been repurposed for this new application.”

NHS Nightingale Hospital Birmingham has been provided with the PDS units for free as part of SiteZone Safety and its hire partner ESS-Safeforce’s appreciation of the work that Interserve Construction and the NHS are doing in response to the Covid-19 outbreak.