How Technology Can Shape the Future of EHS – Part 2


In Last week’s article we discussed some of the new evolving technologies that could – and are starting to – shape the future of EHS, this week we continue to discuss more technologies that have potential for being part of future EHS /OHS systems and software suites.

Beacons and Sensors

Beacons and sensors are devices that either broadcast data to nearby portable electronic devices, or detect events and changes in their environment and then correspond with the appropriate response

Beacons and sensors are already being widely used in many EHS applications, here is a look at some of the most frequent ones:

Safety Alerts. An example of thi would be a worker entering a hazardous area of where work is being done that releases chemical fumes. The worker can then be equipped with an electronic device that picks up the signal from a beacon. As a result, the worker receives an alert or reminder on the electronic device asking him to make sure he is wearing a specific piece of safety equipment.

Detection of hazardous Chemical Releases. A Sensor can detect that a chemical spill has taken place, and then send an alert in real-time to electronic devices carried by workers, warning them to stay away from that area or to take special safety precautions.

Equipment Performance Statuses. Sensors can monitor the real-time performance of equipment or assets, So if the equipment is not functioning correctly, or is about to malfunction, it can send a real-time alert to warn workers. LNS Research has written a lot about this and the link between Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE) and EHS.

Augmented Reality (AR)

Augmented Reality is a real-time direct or indirect view of a real-world environment whose elements are augmented or supplemented by computer-generated sensory input such as sound, video, graphics or GPS data. Games like the world-famous Pokémon Go are good examples of the use of AR. Some of the applications of Augmented Reality in EHS include:

Safety Smart Glasses. A pair of smart glasses can be programmed to view real-time environmental information such as airborne chemical and particulate concentrations, or oxygen levels in a confined space.

Virtual Safety Data Sheets. A worker scans a chemical storage area with a smartphone’s camera and the screen gets populated with virtual Safety Data Sheets (SDSs) above each chemical for convenient access to safety information.

Smart Helmets. A helmet can be equipped with a retractable visor capable of overlaying work instructions, system performance metrics, and temperature readings on the user’s field of view.

Virtual Reality (VR)

Virtual Reality is a technology that uses software to generate realistic images, sounds and other sensations that simulates a real environment, as well as the user’s physical presence in this environment by enabling the user to interact with this space and depicted objects.

Safety Training. Instead of traditional classroom training, pictures and video to educate workers about a hazardous environment, VR allows full immersion into the environment without having to leave the room. According to a study by Verdantix, having “real” experience before being actually exposed to a hazard is invaluable, and could reduce unsafe behaviors, incidents, injuries and fatalities.