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We appeared in The Telegraph, discussing our recent work with One.Site to make construction sites safer for returning workers

9 Jun 2020

An electronic wristband which warns workers to keep two metres apart on construction sites has been successfully trialled in the UK for the first time.

As the country eases out of lockdown and builders pick up tools, construction firms are looking for innovative ways to ensure workers can abide by social distancing rules to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

This new technology, which contains in-built sensors notifying the wearer when they come too close to another by emitting a vibration, is just one such solution being adopted.

Housing developer Bewley Homes, the first firm to trial the new device on a site in Basingstoke, has placed an order for another 500 to distribute to its workers across seven other locations.

The wristbands contain no tracking capabilities, are not linked to a wearer’s smartphone and are potentially up to 90 per cent cheaper than competitor devices, making them a scalable solution for the industry, its developer, a division of the construction communications provider UK Connect, said.

And, as the technology is not individualised there is no threat to the wearer’s privacy, and can be reused by multiple workers following sanitation.

The construction industry has felt the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic, with activity in the sector dropping by almost a third in April compared with the same month last year.

Bewley Homes was forced to close all of it’s building sites at the start of the pandemic, but with the use of the wristbands and other stringent health and safety measures, it now aims to reopen all of its sites by the end of June.

Andrew Brooks, Managing Director of Bewley Homes, said it is a “challenge” to change habits “engrained over many years” on construction sites.

He added: “Unless the message is continually reinforced, human nature takes over and people will gravitate back to how they have always behaved.

“So, we are introducing these wristbands to help keep social distancing protocols.”

On site, the developer has also implemented other measures to limit contact between workers, including remote induction for the new devices and contactless sign ins at sites.

PJ Farr, managing director at UK Connect, said although “a certain degree of spontaneity” is expected on busy building sites, the wristbands are meant to be a reminder for workers to stay apart.

“Even with clearly demarcated areas, social distancing can be challenging, particularly when multiple jobs have to be delivered on time, in limited space,” he said.

“These wristbands will help workers identify when they are in breach of social distancing measures in a noninvasive way.”

Other firms have begun to reopen sites after the construction and manufacturing industry was actively encouraged to go back to work by Boris Johnson last month.

Elsewhere, increased safety protocols have been introduced, including increased signage and phased-sign in times.