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A New Era for Managing Enclosed Spaces – Powered by IIoT and Connected Worker Technology

Sep 21, 2022

The fatal danger associated with enclosed spaces is a major safety concern for hazardous industries such as shipping, oil and gas, chemicals etc. These industries are struggling to eliminate incidents despite the various new regulations introduced and control measures in place. Based on the USA market, from 2011 to 2018, 1,030 workers died from occupational injuries involving a confined space. The annual figures range from a low of 88 in 2012 to a high of 166 in 2017. This data is from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries (CFOI). From this, we can estimate the number of deaths resulting from occupational injuries would be even more on a global scale.
In summary
A combination of both procedural non-compliance and human factors contributes to the risk of incident involving enclosed space. It is evident within the various hazardous industries on the need to have a digital approach in using IIoT technology to manage safety.
Human Factor
Most hazardous industries focus on Regulation and Procedure to improve safety. However, most investigations reveal that the incidents are related to the Human Element.

Benefits of IIoT to enhance end-to-end safety systems (with Human Factors incorporated)

*Near real-time subject to worksite connectivity

IIoT and AI Technology – Smart Worksite and Connected Worker
There are available technologies in the market that can overcome the obstacles that are hindering the implementation of Human Factor elements to organizational safety systems. IIoT technologies and the Smart worksite concept has the potential to tackle obstacles addressed in the enclosed space entry incidents. Setting up Wi-Fi network connectivity or the usage of existing telecommunication means such as 5G on industrial workspace alongside with a comprehensive software and hardware solution that digitalize safety workflows and connect workers via wearable devices enables opportunities to improve visibility and compliance of work.
Connected Intrinsically Safe (IS) wearables and smart Permit To Work (PTW) systems can enable deadly hazards found in enclosed space to be better controlled, managed and information transfer more transparent across stakeholders.
i) Safe work practices are implemented as intended and safety culture is promoted within the organization (Defined Safe Work Behavior)
Working hand in hand with connected wearables ensures compliance safeguards when the industrial worker is preparing a permit where the user will be verified of his or her current location and time of signature.
ii) Near real time operations monitoring (Observe Behaviors)
The Smart worksite connected platform using live dashboard enables near real time worksite wide visibility of front-line operations through its display of live worker location, identity and their active tasks with the information sent from individual workers’ wearables.
Responsible Authority will be alerted with worker assist notifications if workers happen to encounter difficulties in performing their tasks or are feeling unwell.
iii) Situational awareness of conditions on the ground, from the worker level up to the office personnel/fatigue management (Real Time Feedback)
With the availability of wearables for every worker, crucial information with regards to the working conditions, hazard exposure periods, and other work-related hazards faced by the workers for enclosed spaces and other work locations can be detected.
It also reinforces positive behaviour, for example, when the workers are exposed to heat stress environment with alerts to notify them to hydrate and take short breaks as needed. Together with real-time interventions like GeoFence alerts which the workers can receive on their wearables while approaching near hazardous zones, they can take the necessary actions within good time.
iv) Ensured quality of data for information that is gathered from the connected wearables and smart PTWs (Analyze Data)
Active sensors on the wearable enables capture of workers insights and leading indicators that bring about better efficacy of corporate wellness programs and health and safety plans. This information empowers workers with near real time data to manage immediate risks when the wearable monitors workers safety and wellbeing through important health signals, notifications, and recommendations.
v) Ready-made analytics and possible solutions for organizational usage, backed by an experienced team of Safety Personnel and AI (Positive Safe Behavior Reinforced/Set Goals For Behavior Change)
From the data gathered from observations on the ground enabled via smart PTWs and connected wearables, actionable insights can be taken into the possible underlying root causes to issues that are being identified.
Organizations can then pinpoint in a more efficient and faster manner to tackle issues that plague enclosed space entries and other hazardous activities that can impact the safety performance and try to aim for compliance towards zero incidents.
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