HS2 contractors deploy helmet-mounted social distancing tech

Eiffage Kier Ferrovial BAM (EKFB) will use helmet-mounted social distancing devices on an HS2 Area Central contract.

EKFB has ordered a total of 1,500 of the devices from tech start-up Plinx to be used by site workers across its route section, which runs from the Chiltern Hills’ northern edge to near Kenilworth in Warwickshire.

The technology will first be deployed at a cutting for Britain’s new high-speed railway at Boddington in Warwickshire, before being rolled out across the entire central area.

Plinx responded to HS2’s Covid Innovation Challenge and set about refining its technology to help workers to continue working safely on site by helping them to maintain social distancing rules.

The Plinx device use wireless technology to accurately monitor how close workers are to each other; if they are within two metres of another person, the devices will beep, vibrate and flash, notifying the users to keep their distance.

The anonymous data from these devices will provide health and safety managers with valuable insights to manage population density, monitor pinch points on sites and collate data to enable effective contact tracing. 

The Plinx device was also selected for its long-term, post-pandemic application: the social distancing technology can anonymously monitor proximity to hazards such as exclusion zones and machines, and allow users to SOS alert in emergency situations or activate timeout sessions if permitted to do so.

Glenn Christiansen, safety, health, wellbeing, assurance & compliance director at EKFB, said: “The safety, health and wellbeing of our people is EKFB’s highest priority, so we are excited to introduce a technology that both supports and improves this.

“During the current situation with coronavirus, where we are striving to make our workplaces safe for those that continue to come to work, it is especially important to ensure that distancing rules on site are understood, observed, and monitored. Plinx technology gives us an unrivalled ability to manage this, not only technically but also by showing people that we care enough about them to invest in new technology that helps.”

Plinx Founder Tommy Williams said: “It is refreshing to see how well HS2 and EKFB adopt new technologies, such as ours, to address their biggest challenges. We look forward to continuing to help improve safety, security and efficiency on their sites for the duration of the project.”

HS2 head of innovation Howard Mitchell said: “This is a great example of how teamwork and collaboration across the HS2 supply chain creates an environment for innovation to flourish. Tommy and team have shown that being agile and quick to act can create great solutions to fast moving situations.”

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