The Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH) published an article in IOSH Magazine in June about the safety benefits of geofencing.
Geofencing is defined as “the use of global position systems (GPS) or radio-frequency identification technology to create a virtual geographic boundary, enabling software to trigger a response when a mobile device enters or leaves a particular area.”
As stated in the article, geofencing creates a boundary line of a specific area to be managed. Modern practices allow for more precise warnings and locations with real-time data.
And ever since former President Bill Clinton allowed for positioning satellites to be used for civil use, the use of this technology has exploded. Particularly in private industry applications.
For example, construction and fleet management crews have used geofencing technology to improve the safety and efficiency of their operations.
They use it for determining the position of plants and vehicles, for improving lone worker safety, for autonomous vehicle operations, in groundworks and land profiling, and for pedestrian and plant interface.
The article goes on to explain practical tips on how to implement an effective geofencing program within construction sites and fleet vehicle operations.
Geofencing for Fleet Management Operations
Fleet managers appreciate the benefits of geofencing technology because they can send and receive alerts when fleet vehicles leave the compound. From there, they can continuously track their exact locations.
This data is useful so that fleet managers can know which routes their drivers are taking. They obviously want their drivers to take the most efficient route to their destination. From a safety perspective, they can also alert their drivers if the chosen route is too hazardous, has construction ahead, or if their presence could potentially endanger the public.
Additionally, fleet managers can track not only where a vehicle is, but also how it’s being driven. Driver behaviors such as excessive acceleration and harsh braking can be immediately identified and addressed.
Geofencing also provides insights as to how long the driver has been on the road and whether or not they’re taking the mandated amount of rest breaks.
Geofencing for Construction Operations
Construction sites contain a wide variety of hazards. Geofencing technology can help companies address and mitigate a large number of them.
The examples given in the article are overhead lines, building edges, low and weak bridges, and dangerous materials that may be stored near workers and mobile equipment drivers. Geofencing can reduce risks by sounding an alarm when workers come into close proximity to these types of hazards.
The same technology can also be programmed to alert managers and supervisors when a worker or piece of mobile equipment has crossed a hazardous boundary line. These real-time alerts enable quick response and early intervention.
Other Benefits of Geofencing in Private Industry
An added bonus of geofencing technology is the way it can mitigate problems with site security. Significant monetary losses can occur from theft of machinery and equipment. If equipped with GPS trackers, these expensive assets can be recovered much sooner.
Such application of the technology can even help companies save money by not having to hire workers for round-the-clock “watch duty” and/or closed-circuit televisions for video surveillance.
Another significant benefit is the level of protection that lone workers can receive with geofencing technology. Automatic alarm notifications can be issued in certain circumstances.
For example, injuries caused by slips, trips and falls can usually be picked up by geofencing. The alerts to supervisor or first response team can include the exact location of the individual through a “man-down” duress alarm.
Similar alarms can be sent if the lone worker leaves a particular area or if they enter a high-risk zone.
And finally, the IOSH article wraps up by offering a sneak peek at what the future may hold for geofencing technology.
The idea of vehicle automation has been on the rise in recent years. Full automation simply cannot be achieved without geofencing. The technology would allow the vehicle to “know” where it is, the speed it is travelling, and a number of other critical pieces of data, the article says.