Adopting Proximity Warning Technology
In June, Reactec hosted a webinar alongside Health and Safety Matters which focussed on advanced proximity warning detection technologies - their challenges and benefits, and the key considerations for organisations looking to adopt these solutions.
Below, we’ve put together a summary of the key topics discussed during the webinar, including a background on this evolving technology, the pros and cons of adoption and implementation, and a real world use case to highlight the benefits of proximity detection technology for teams working in dynamic environments.
Proximity detection technology: what is it, and why does it matter?
A report commissioned by the Scottish Road Research Board (SRRB) defines a proximity warning system as detection technology which uses an audible, visual or haptic alert to indicate when an invisible, digital, exclusion zone centred around a restricted area or plant has been breached in real-time.
Put more simply: proximity warning systems are technologies that help to keep people/pedestrians safely distanced from moving vehicles, exclusion areas, and other hazards, through the use of real-time alerts and notifications.
And keeping people safely distanced from such hazards and areas is a critical initiative: In the UK, accidents that occur as a result of a worker being struck by a moving object or vehicle, or being trapped by something collapsing or overturning, continue to pose an enormous risk to workers: 135 workers were killed in work-related accidents in 2023, with 50% of victims coming into dangerous proximity of unsafe areas, moving objects, vehicles, or machinery.
It’s clear that proximity warning systems are crucial for organisations who wish to keep their workers safe: by segregating people from potentially dangerous machines or areas, teams can create safer working environments. But it’s also critical for these solutions to be flexible and customisable - safer ways of working shouldn’t slow things down or interrupt business-as-usual.
That’s why it’s important to weigh the pros and cons of such technology, and adopt a solution that’s perfect for your team and ways of working.
The pros and cons of adopting and implementing proximity detection technology:
As with any new technology, system, or process, adopting and implementing proximity detection technology is not without its challenges.
Early systems that were developed prior to 2018, for example, relied upon the pedestrian to constantly wear an RFID tag to ensure their movements were detected. For many workers, this technology felt intrusive: it was easy to forget, and put the onus on workers to take the meaningful step toward enhanced safety.
Since then, systems have evolved into more sophisticated, more streamlined technologies that supplement existing safety systems as opposed to increasing the burden of responsibility on any one worker.
But even the most advanced technologies have potential drawbacks: real-time alerts or notifications, for example, can potentially distract workers or operators, and any new technology has the potential to drive complacency if workers over-rely on the system.
The functionalities and capabilities that set the most advanced, impactful solutions apart are those which improve existing ways of working and help teams get even more from their current processes and efforts. This is particularly important in dynamic environments.
Proximity detection technology, in action: a real-world use case
Heathrow is one of the world’s busiest airports, and a decidedly busy working environment. Recently, Ferrovial Construction - a company delivering improvement works for Heathrow - trialled a proximity warning system to help ensure that people are safely distanced from moving vehicles on runways at night.
During the trial, Ferrovial Construction were able to create exclusion zones around vehicles and warn team members when they were in close proximity of a hazard in real-time. Following a successful two-day trial with two airport nightshift teams – one using R-link alerts and the other team with alerts switched off – the alerted workers wearing the R-link watch recorded 82% less incursion time than the unalerted workers.
It’s clear from such a real-world use case that purpose-built, sophisticated proximity warning solutions can make a measurable impact for teams and add value to their existing safety programmes.
Reactec’s proximity warning detection technology: A powerful, flexible solution for dynamic teams
Reactec is a pioneer in workplace risk management, with over twenty years of experience in helping teams to work more safely, and more effectively. Reactec’s advanced proximity detection technology is powered by cutting-edge ultra-wideband technology and Reactec’s sophisticated Analytics platform.
With real-time alerts and notifications, Reactec’s proximity detection technology empowers workers to take better control of their working environment, while industry-defining Analytics make it possible for teams and organisations to gain an unprecedented 360-degree view of their risk landscape.
Plus, the flexibility and customisation options of Reactec’s proximity detection solution enable teams to tailor their systems to their specific processes, systems, and ways of working. The R-Link Driver’s Watch, for example, gives different permissions to different workers: machine operators and drivers can set their system up so that no alerts are triggered when they’re operating their vehicle or equipment. Importantly, the system also enables the driver to allow others to get close to such hazards, on a case-by-case basis.
And while these permissions can be set in advance, R-Link also empowers drivers/machine operators to allow access in real-time via a Digital Thumbs-Up that allows access to vehicles and equipment. Plus, drivers can control whether they’re alerted when someone gets too close to their vehicle. And these permissions can be updated at any time, making it easy to control or update who has access to which areas or equipment on a day-to-day basis.
Proximity warning technology can make an incredible impact for teams looking to take more control of their risk environment, but it’s critical to find and implement a solution that does more than keep people away from hazards. The right technology for any team is the one that supports their ways of working and makes day-to-day tasks easier, without slowing anything down.
If you’d like to watch the informative webinar on-demand, just register your details for full access to the session, including the interactive Q&A.