Too often safety professionals may feel as if they’re holding the parcel when the music stops. Despite best efforts, things still go wrong and the HSE team are left to manage the consequences as best they can.

But what if it didn’t need to be this way? What if HSE teams had early warning of the changing risk picture, allowing them to take action before the incident happens?

What if you knew when a worker was first exposed to a high noise level or sniff of Benzene, where and for how long? Having this real-time visibility at your fingertips would allow you to quickly identify an issue you weren’t previously aware of, put the necessary mitigations in place, and automatically monitor these mitigations to ensure they are working.

As digital technologies in the form of IOT sensors and wearable devices come to the market, this vision is increasingly becoming a reality.
This paper will suggest that new ways of collecting data related to the worker and the environment they work in (or travel through) are needed to help the industry transform from traditional reactive/preventive ways of working to more proactive/predictive ways. This approach isn’t new - we’ve seen this transformation happen in Maintenance & Reliability, so why not in HSE too?

As the industry thirst for predictive analytics grows, so does the challenge of capturing and integrating larger quantities of high quality real-time data in an easy, inexpensive and automated way. Unlike Maintenance, where the asset under analysis is typically fixed in one location, HSE data often relates to the individual worker and the environment they are exposed to, which can vary during the working day. Ideally, a new mobile method of data capture is needed which follows each worker as they move.

With the advent of the Connected Worker, this is now becoming possible. Smart garments with plug-in miniaturised sensors are emerging which allow gas, noise and other data to be captured and processed “on the worker” to detect anomalies and early risk indicators. Worker exposure levels, fatigue and even early signs of fugitive emissions could be detected in this way.

As risks are detected or predicted, real-time mitigations could be deployed enabling the opportunity to streamline some preventive measures used today and reduce the cost impact to the bottom line and worker time.

So where are we with all of this? Closer than you may realise.

Kevin Boyd

For the past 3 years, Kevin Boyd has been providing consultancy services in the Connected Worker space for HSSE, helping leading edge IIOT and wearables start-up companies deliver viable solutions to industry problems, specifically for use in hazardous areas on offshore platforms, onshore gas terminals, refineries and chemical plants.

Focus areas have included using digital technologies to improve worker health & safety, process safety and reduce emissions. Prior to 2Value, Kevin’s roles focused on maximising the business value delivered from Connected Worker digital technologies applied to Operations, Maintenance and Logistics.