Scientists Develop Site Safety Monitoring System

MONDAY, MAY 1, 2023

Researchers from the University of Houston have reportedly created a new site monitoring system to keep construction workers safe at job sites.

“The point of our research project was to enhance safety of workers and equipment on a construction site by tracking their location,” said Alireza Ansaripour, a computer science doctoral student at UH and first author of the study. “By tracking their location, we can monitor location-based policies related to the safety of workers and equipment in construction sites.”

The findings were recently published in the research journal Applied Sciences.

About the System

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration reports that 4,764 workers died on the job in 2020. Employees in construction and extraction occupations accounted for 20% of those deaths, with many struck by a vehicle or mobile machinery.

Location-based safety policies are created during the planning stage of the construction site, defining safe areas for workers and equipment or defining a safe distance between them when equipment is operating in the construction site.

The university reports that ViPER+ automates the monitoring of these policies and detects any violations of the policies while workers and equipment are working, using ultra-wideband technology for location tracking.

“These radios use large bandwidths to communicate, which enables them to perform location tracking more accurately compared to other wireless radios,” Ansaripour said. “This was the technology we used to track the locations of workers and equipment.”

Differing from other safety monitoring systems, the ViPER+ system can reportedly overcome non-line of sight situations, such as instances in which trucks, construction loaders and other equipment block the signal between the transmitter and receiver in ultra-wideband radio transmissions.

To resolve this, the team implemented a correction method in their localization, or location tracking algorithm to reduce the error caused by non-line of sight. This was reportedly the main enhancement compared to the group’s initial system, ViPER.

According to the press release, the team tracked locations through tags and anchors. Tags are small ultra-wideband radio transmitters, mounted to workers and vehicles to monitor their locations, while anchors are ultra-wideband receivers that receive signals from tags.

The university reports that ViPER+ automates the monitoring of these policies and detects any violations of the policies while workers and equipment are working, using ultra-wideband technology for location tracking.

The researchers then reportedly collected data from anchors to their computer server and estimated the location of vehicles and people in a construction site. This was tested twice in actual Houston construction zones cordoned off for the experiment.

The first evaluation was reportedly conducted in 2019, with tags set up in an area about 8,600 square feet. Four students operated as “workers” in the tracking zone, while Ansaripour was managing the data flow of the system and making sure the experiment ran smoothly. In 2022, a similar scenario was set up, but at a different construction site.

“In our evaluation, all four construction workers had tags mounted. We also had one vehicle, either a truck or bulldozer, with multiple tags on it, and another static vehicle was used to create a non-line of sight situation,” said Ansaripour.

Looking ahead, the team plans to iron out user design issues such as alerting construction workers when they are too close to moving machinery.

“We also have an issue creating a tracking zone that covers all of a construction site, not just a portion of it,” said Ansaripour. “There are still some improvements that need to be made for this to become a commercial product, but our work provides insight on how a real-time safety monitoring system can be used for safety tracking in construction sites.”

Other authors of the study include UH’s Milad Heydariaan from UH, alongside Kyungki Kim and Hafiz Oyediran from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. The research project was funded through the National Cooperative Highway Research Program (NCHRP) Idea of the National Academy of Sciences.


Tagged categories: Asia Pacific; Colleges and Universities; Construction; Digital tools; EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa); Good Technical Practice; Health & Safety; Health and safety; Latin America; North America; Program/Project Management; Research; Research and development; Safety; Technology; Tools & Equipment - Commercial; Workers; Z-Continents

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