Keeping Construction Sites Safe with IoT Technology

Samsung C&T is levearging Internet of Things technology to create safer work environments at construction sites and mitigate risk. This technology includes heart rate monitoring and gas, air, and temperature monitoring.

As construction techniques and machinery advance, we are seeing some of the world’s tallest buildings being built. With taller buildings comes a higher risk for construction workers and their health and safety on-site. In addition to regulations and policies that protect workers, Internet of Things (IoT) technology is being used on construction sites to enhance safety and mitigate the risks of construction work. Health bands, gas sensors and temperature and humidity sensors are helping monitor the conditions of workers and construction sites to manage risks, reduce response time for incidents, and reduce work-related health issues.

Samsung C&T Engineering and construction workers stand in front of a tall building at a construction site
Workers at a Samsung C&T Construction Site

Site Safety Management

The Engineering and Construction (E&C) Group at Samsung C&T has a rigorous Occupational Health and Safety Management System (OHSMS). The OHSMS is in place to prevent accidents and follows a system to plan, do, check, and act to make continuous improvements to the safety of construction sites. The key elements of this system are outlined in the diagram below. The E&C Group has also established a Construction Safety Laboratory that evaluates and plans to mitigate the risk of incidents. One of the group’s safety initiatives includes leveraging innovative Internet of Things (IoT) technology on construction sites to enhance the overall safety of workers and mitigate risk.

Diagram of Samsung C&T’s Occupational Health and Safety Management System (OHSMS)

What is the Internet of Things (IoT)?

The Internet of Things, commonly known as IoT, is a system of sensors, hardware, and software that work together to communicate data in real time via the internet. Some of the technologies that make IoT possible include big data analytics, cloud computing, sensors and actuators (devices that detect movement). IoT is used across a range of industries and is a powerful tool for construction sites. You may already be using IoT technology in your home without knowing it; many modern household appliances such as washing machines, security cameras, and smart watches implement IoT sensors to collect and share data.

How can IoT improve safety on construction sites?

IoT is used in many industries including the healthcare, transportation, and retail sectors. With the help of sensors and actuators, IoT can be leveraged in the construction industry to monitor information on sites to measure environmental conditions, monitor the health status of workers, and prevent incidents with live data. The E&C Group at Samsung C&T has been using the following IoT applications on its construction sites to enhance occupational health and safety for workers since 2017.

Diagram of different Internet of Things sensors that can be used at Construction sites to enhance safety

Heart Rate Monitors

On construction sites, workers can be fitted with heart rate monitor bands while they work. Much like an athlete would wear a heart monitor for their training, this technology is an important way to monitor the health and well-being of workers on construction sites. With the heart rate sensors, managers will receive a text message if a construction worker’s heart rates exceed normal levels. This can prevent further injury and ensure quick response rates in a medical emergency.

Gas Sensors

Construction sites sometimes subject workers to confined spaces, which poses a risk of suffocation. Gas sensors can be connected to smart phone devices on sites to alert workers of high gas levels to prevent suffocation and mitigate the risk of electrical fires.

Temperature and Humidity Sensors

In winter months, temperature and humidity sensors can be installed in concrete to help improve the process of thermal insulation and curing. The sensors can be monitored remotely with a smart device, and the temperatures of heaters on site can also be adjusted. This creates efficiency for workers and reduces the risks of low-quality concrete curing which could lead to structural issues.

Air Quality Sensors

IoT sensors can be used on construction sites to manage the concentration of particulate matter in the air to ensure that the site is not exposing workers and nearby residents to poor air quality levels. The Samsung C&T E&C Group has had a voluntary agreement with the Seoul Metropolitan Government in place since 2022 to implement this technology on its construction sites.

Noise Sensors

Construction sites are loud and can cause noise pollution if managed incorrectly, particularly in densely built-up cities. Noise and vibration sensors can be used on sites to measure noise and update project managers of high levels of noise and vibrations in real-time using IoT technology. This means that immediate action can be taken on-site to ensure that the noise and vibration levels are reduced for the health of workers and surrounding residents.

A group of construction workers from Samsung C&T discuss IoT technology on a construction site in South Korea.
Samsung C&T's Engineering and Construction Workers Using IoT On-site

The Future of Construction Site Safety Technology

The future of site safety management is already here; Samsung C&T introduced robots on construction sites that automate high-risk tasks to prevent incidents and improve efficiency. Furthermore, the company introduced a virtual reality safety training program called SMAR’T (Samsung C&T Smart Training) to educate workers on equipment accident prevention on site in 2021.

In the future, there will also be opportunities for the construction industry to leverage AI and machine learning to predict incidents and prevent fatal injuries. As construction processes become more advanced, using technology to navigate the risks associated with large machinery will be more important. In addition to AI and machine learning, blockchain, a technology that creates immutable data logs, is a solution that can be used to ensure the data collected on construction sites via IoT and other technology is secure, untampered with, and highly accurate.

Samsung C&T’s ‘SMAR”T’ Virtual Reality program in action
Samsung C&T's SMAR'T Virtual Reality Training Program in Action

Samsung C&T’s Commitment to a ‘Safety First’ Culture

The Samsung C&T E&C Group are continuously working to improve the health and safety of workers on its construction sites around the world. Samsung C&T consider the safety and health of its employees to be its top priority. In 2021, Samsung C&T implemented a ‘stop-work authority’ act that gives workers the right to cease work if they deem their environment unsafe or are at risk of injury. Since its implementation, 22,648 workers have exercised their right to stop work with many citing collisions or falls as a risk factor as well as climate-related risks such as extreme heat or rainfall. The stop-work authority aims to reduce the rate of incidents on construction sites and is already proving to be effective. With the addition of in-house initiatives such as the OHSMS and the Construction Safety Laboratory, Samsung C&T is dedicated to continuously improving construction safety and providing a safe workplace for the people who risk their lives to build better cities for our world.

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