Safety tech: The next sensation

By |  March 29, 2019
If 21st century technology can improve both jobsite safety and production, there’s no reason not to embrace change. Photo: iStock.com/SeventyFour

If 21st century technology can improve both jobsite safety and production, there’s no reason not to embrace change. Photo: iStock.com/SeventyFour

The Ontario Stone, Sand & Gravel Association’s (OSSGA) 2019 Operations, Health & Safety Seminar provided a platform for the aggregate industry in the province to come together before producers dive into the next production season.

The event featured nearly 300 attendees, 37 exhibitors, and more than a dozen education and networking sessions. Themes that emerged at the conference were safety, technology and how these concepts are intertwined and mutually beneficial.

“Safety data is the new steel-toe boot,” says Ben Morse, head of sales at Tread, during an education session covering the modernization of aggregate dispatch solutions.

According to Morse, the availability and proliferation of smartphone tech allows aggregate producers to complete tasks differently – both in terms of production efficiency and safety.

Canadian conveyor guarding

Matt McDonald, health and safety specialist at James Dick Construction, offered insight at OSSGA’s Operations, Health & Safety Seminar on legislation pertaining to conveyor guarding.

The Ontario Ministry of Labour established regulations and guidelines for conveyor guarding in its most recent publication in May 2017. McDonald walked OSSGA seminar attendees through some of the requirements and regulations for conveyors, specifically sections 185, 196 and 196.1.

While many questions are answered in this publication, McDonald says many questions remain because of obscure definitions.

“There should be clear definitions for gate, barricade, fence and travelway,” McDonald says.

Additionally, the term “danger zone” should be clearly defined, he says. Clarifying a definition like this can help avoid confusion and citations, McDonald adds.

Consider the following analogy: Decades ago, record players served as the most common medium for playing music. Over time, technology was simplified and we now listen to music on smartphones via streaming services with just a few screen taps. Sure, record players are still around – they’ve even made a bit of a comeback in recent years – but as a device, they simply aren’t as efficient as other tech.

Likewise, Morse says it’s time for aggregate producers to utilize modern tech to simplify their day-to-day processes. He points, for example, to vehicle monitoring systems that allow those directly involved in operations to connect on a shared network where they can analyze data.

Morse also discussed how safety is a catalyst for operational efficiency. Ask anyone in the industry about their top work priority, and most will respond with safety. If the development and implementation of 21st century tech can help improve not just safety, but also production efficiency, then there’s no reason for producers not to embrace change.

Another viewpoint

Nancy Wilk, principal and senior practice leader in industrial hygiene and environment, health and safety at Golder Associates, also touched on safety tech at the OSSGA seminar.

In an education session focused on fatality prevention and critical control management, Wilk shared six fatal risk controls that companies and their employees should always be cognizant of:

1. When working around heavy equipment: Be visible and identify safe spots.

2. When driving: Wear seat belts at all times. Respect the rules of the road. Do not use or talk on your cell phone. Do not drive after 14 hours are accumulated – take a break.

3. On the work environment: Be aware of acutely hazardous substances or atmospheres.

4. When working at heights: Use fall prevention measures.

5. When working around suspended loads: Remain at a safe distance. Do not pass under these.

6. On ground stability: Do not enter areas of unstable ground.

Wilk believes the concept of zero industry fatalities is achievable through proactive planning and worksite awareness, but acknowledges it will take an industry-wide commitment to achieve this.

Other tech takeaways

 While some describe “hauling efficiency” as filling trucks to capacity – perhaps even overloading a bit – others, like Trimble’s Joe Steiger, argue that maximum hauling efficiencies are achieved by involving additional trucks. Photo by Kevin Yanik

While some describe “hauling efficiency” as filling trucks to capacity – perhaps even overloading a bit – others, like Trimble’s Joe Steiger, argue that maximum hauling efficiencies are achieved by involving additional trucks. Photo by Kevin Yanik

Modern technology can also have a positive effect on a company’s bottom line. Joe Steiger, sales manager for North America at Trimble, stressed this point during an education session focused on production.

While detailing the mining process, Steiger emphasized the importance of blasting efficiency.

“The first blast is critical to everything downstream,” Steiger says.
And the introduction of technology into the mining process can benefit a site’s efficiency, he adds.

“Use technology on both your pit loader and your pit fleet,” Steiger says. “It gives your workers or operators the ability to manage themselves.”

Still, the term “efficiency” can be misleading, he says. Some producers believe it’s more practical to haul more tons per truck – that this equals greater efficiency. Steiger suggests hauling more tons per truck is actually less productive.

According to Steiger, filling trucks to capacity, or even overloading, leads to increased wear and tear as well as less efficient fuel consumption due to increased weight. He also argues it takes more time to load a truck to full capacity, which eats into the transport time.

Instead, Steiger advises producers to aim for as many truckloads as possible – not necessarily more tons per truck – to achieve the best possible efficiency.


1 Comment on "Safety tech: The next sensation"

Trackback | Comments RSS Feed