HS2 awards contract for new technology to ensure social distancing
The devices, which fit on safety helmets, use wireless technology to accurately monitor how close workers are to each other, ensuring that social distancing requirements are abided by whilst onsite.
Credit: HS2 Ltd
A technology start-up that joined the HS2 COVID-19 Innovation Challenge in Spring 2020 has secured a major deal to supply work site social distancing technology to one of HS2’s main works civil contractors.
Area Central contractor, Eiffage Kier Ferrovial BAM (EKFB), has awarded PLINX with a contract to supply 1,500 helmet-mounted devices to be used by site workers across its route section, which runs from the Chiltern Hills’ northern edge to near Kenilworth in Warwickshire.
The technology will first be deployed at a cutting for Britain’s new high-speed railway at Boddington in Warwickshire, before being rolled out across the entire central area.
PLINX founder, Tommy Williams, responded to HS2’s COVID Innovation Challenge and set about refining its technology to help workers to continue working safely on site by helping them to maintain social distancing rules.
The devices use cutting-edge wireless technology to accurately monitor how close workers are to each other; if they are within two metres of another person, the devices will beep, vibrate and flash, notifying the users to keep their distance.
The anonymous data from these devices will provide Health and Safety managers with valuable insights in order to better manage population density, monitor pinch points on sites and collate data to enable effective contact tracing. This innovative solution will provide an extra level of safety by alerting, monitoring and managing people and their adherence to social distancing guidelines on site, as well as gathering data to prevent further incursions.
Beyond the main COVID-19 use case, the solution was selected as it offered longer term use that would continue to help EKFB to maintain health and safety on sites post-COVID-19. The social distancing technology will anonymously monitor proximity to hazards, such as exclusion zones and machines, and allow users to SOS alert in emergency situations or activate timeout sessions if permitted to do so.
Glenn Christiansen, the Safety, Health, Wellbeing, Assurance and Compliance Director at EKFB, said: “The safety, health and wellbeing of our people is EKFB’s highest priority, so we are excited to introduce a technology that both supports and improves this. During the current situation with coronavirus, where we are striving to make our workplaces safe for those that continue to come to work, it is especially important to ensure that distancing rules on site are understood, observed and monitored. PLINX technology gives us an unrivalled ability to manage this, not only technically but also by showing people that we care enough about them to invest in new technology that helps.”
PLINX Founder, Tommy Williams, said: “It is refreshing to see how well HS2 and EKFB adopt new technologies, such as ours, to address their biggest challenges. We look forward to continuing to help improve safety, security and efficiency on their sites for the duration of the project.”
Howard Mitchell, HS2’s Head of Innovation, said: “This is a great example of how teamwork and collaboration across the HS2 supply chain creates an environment for innovation to flourish. Tommy and the team have shown that being agile and quick to act can create great solutions to fast moving situations.”