Approximately 35% of construction site injuries and 14% of construction site deaths are caused by machine-related accidents, but job sites could be getting a lot safer in the not-so-distant future.
The use of Cyber-Physical Systems (CPS) will allow temporary structures often used on construction sites to be monitored and assessed for any potential safety hazards that they may possess.
The National Science Foundation defines CPS as engineered systems that are built from, and depend on, the seamless integration of computational algorithms and physical components.
The agency hopes that these systems will be the driving and enabling force in capability, adaptability, resiliency, safety, and security on construction sites around the world.
A recent study by Xiao Yuan, an architectural engineering Ph.D. candidate, focused on enhancing these systems and their monitoring capabilities.
Yuan’s study investigated how linking sensors to structures and virtual models could better ensure the safety of over 75% of construction workers who work on or around temporary structures, which may include sheeting and shoring, temporary bracing or guide rails, soil backfill, formwork systems, scaffolding, and countless other hazards.
Although countless safety advances have been made in construction, it doesn’t mean that injuries are non-existent.
Junior Strickland is still recovering from injuries that he sustained in June when he fell two stories to the ground.
“Workers told us that one of their workers with Wise Construction Company was on the roof using a jackhammer to break loose some concrete. They were trying to open up the building … the concrete collapsed underneath him. He … fell down to the ground floor,” said Chattanooga Fire Department Spokesperson Bruce Garner.
Strickland suffered several broken ribs and severe injuries to the head, spine and leg, all of which required multiple surgeries.
OSHA contacted Strickland to inquire about his injuries and the safety measures put in place at the time of the accident.
“They said we were supposed to have safety harnesses and stuff like that on. We should have had safety gear and a safety net. That’s what the [OSHA] guy told me. He said that’s what we should have been wearing. We had none of that,” Strickland said.
Although OSHA-required safety training programs, safety practices, and regulations have been put in place to address the alarming number of deaths and injuries on construction sites, continued advancement and research into innovative safety is needed.