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The Full Picture on Construction Safety: AI-Powered Video Telematics

May 12, 2023
AI-powered intelligent cameras are taking risk detection to a whole new level.

By Matthew Ison

Construction workers are overrepresented in US workplace injuries, making up 21.7% of total fatal injuries when only accounting for 7.3% of the US workforce. But what makes the construction industry so dangerous? According to recent data, vehicle collisions are the second most common cause of fatal injuries in construction and engineering.

The use of moving equipment and heavy machinery heightens the safety risks for any work site but creates a particular risk to other workers on-site as well as vulnerable people on public roads during transit or at the entrance of construction sites. Unknown risk is the greatest hurdle to overcome in risk management. Moving parts from heavy equipment operation create a heightened propensity for unforeseen risk, which in turn place additional burden on plant operators and construction professionals to manage these effectively.

Video telematics, with its ability to provide real-time data for analysis, offers enhanced visibility to support risk detection and prevention, as well as aid future risk planning. Add to that, additional intelligent risk detection to cover all safety blind spots and plant operators will help ensure the safety of other workers and vulnerable people.

A 360-degree view

No matter how experienced or advanced a professional is, there is always the chance that human error can sneak through. But when it comes to high-stakes industries like construction and engineering, the consequences of human error can be fatal. Here, a combination of cameras and sensors can give drivers a complete 360-degree view around the plant via an in-cab monitor, compared to the standard 180-degree visibility. Front, side and rear cameras ensure equipment is covered from all angles, while corner, side and rear sensors warn of nearby people—such as workers, pedestrians or cyclists—especially in blind spots. This system can also be linked to specific driving maneuvers, so a driver can view the appropriate camera when turning, for example, the left-hand indicator or reverse gear links to the correct camera angle when engaged.

Never miss a thing

AI-powered intelligent cameras are taking risk detection to a whole new level. These intelligent detection cameras use deep learning technology to provide real-time insight to identify and track vulnerable people and trigger an alert to the driver—especially when manual detection is difficult due to blind spots. This technology can even activate an external, audible alarm when someone enters virtual exclusion zones around the construction equipment, thereby supporting the operator by alerting those around of the risk while preventative action is taken.

Eliminate false positives

While traditional proximity sensors can be triggered by inanimate objects, and drivers become complacent of alerts due to false positives, AI-enhanced smart cameras can make all the difference. The AI-powered detection camera can locate people up to 20 meters away in real-time, establishing the severity of risk dependent on their proximity to the equipment. Such high levels of accuracy and range provide the driver with increased reaction time and reduce the possibility of collisions.

Visibility through the cloud

Standard telematics are no longer enough when it comes to safety in the new digitally connected age. To get the most value out of the data captured, sensors and mobile digital video recorders (MDVRs) can now be connected 24x7 to a cloud-based platform, such as VisionTrack’s NARA (Notification, Analysis and Risk Assessment) platform. Recorded footage and supporting data of any collision, near miss or harsh driving event is uploaded and can be viewed almost instantly. This provides plant or fleet managers with virtual eyes on the ground, enhancing visibility and control of equipment on site or out on the road.

The NARA platform, for example, uses deep learning algorithms to process the hundreds of hours of operation footage produced by typical construction activity to remove false positives with precision accuracy, all within a matter of seconds. This means the right action can be taken immediately—and when it comes to safety every second counts.

Video and telematics for the full picture

Driver behavior is important to determine how equipment is being used, however, telematics alone can only tell half the story. When video footage is combined with telematics data it provides important context to the recorded incident, unlocking new value from the telematics data. This allows construction managers to gain true visibility into the data to take targeted and effective action. If a video shows someone doing something risky that is linked to the event, then a more meaningful intervention can be made to improve safety. It also allows driving styles to be measured and analyzed, so steps can be taken as part of a wider safety strategy and training initiative.

Eliminate gaps in safety protocols

Video and telematics data can also help construction businesses monitor safety protocols by combining video telematics with event tracking on equipment to ensure the correct procedures are being followed, so that extra training can be provided to make sure operations remain compliant with industry and legal standards.

Take, for example, entering or exiting the cab of construction equipment and vehicles, which is a leading cause of slips, trips and falls (STFs) within the sector. A video telematics solution can connect a side camera to the door sensor, so footage is captured to validate that drivers are always facing the equipment and have three points of contact with the machinery. This means driver wellbeing is improved, while a company can reduce absenteeism and protect against potential injury claims.

Meeting future safety standards

AI-powered video telematics are the next step in the evolution of standards for vehicle and machinery safety. Currently, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration guidelines for health and safety promote proactive action and identify video as one of the favorable methods to detect and proactively remove risk. But video telematics can take risk identification and management one step further by continuously monitoring real-time risk and using this data, with the help of AI, to plot patterns and build up a clear plan for risk mitigation.

Cloud platforms, such as NARA, can improve safety compliance with additional safety features like the occupant safety rating that monitors the wellbeing of the driver and can even alert emergency services to severe distress or injury following a collision—providing life-saving minutes to plant and vehicle operators and ensuring safety standards are met.

Sight and insight

The construction industry has the second highest number of fatalities of all U.S. industries. But the costs go far beyond this number, with $11.3 billion a year lost due to serious non-fatal construction injuries as well. As it stands, traditional telematics can only provide limited visibility for operators on the ground and construction managers in risk management. The power of AI makes all the difference to broaden the field of visibility with a complete 360-degree view of events in real time, while automating data analysis to provide instantaneous insights—enabling construction businesses to act in the moment and take preventative action for future risks.

Passionate about increasing occupational safety, Matthew Ison has spent 15+ years promoting SaaS and telematics solutions across a range of sectors, including field service, transportation, construction and industrial IoT. Matt is now responsible for growing new business across North America, helping organizations of all kinds use VisionTrack’s solutions to operate their fleets more efficiently, increase productivity and, most importantly, improve road safety.

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