Wearable Electronics

How wearables can introduce social

distancing in a busy workplace


t is impossible to overstate the importance of the manufacturing industry to the UK’s overall infrastructure and economic revival once the pandemic is brought under control. As organisations adjust to the ‘new normal’, they need the reassurance that their employees can continue to work productively, while still upholding a safe distance of two metres to inhibit the spread of viral infections.

This is where Tended comes in. Founded in 2017 and recently accepted as a member of the British Safety Council, Tended creates intelligent wearable solutions to keep workers safe from the many risks and hazards that are commonplace within construction, engineering and other industrial environments. As the emerging threat of the coronavirus came to the fore, we moved quickly to expand on our existing technology framework to offer employers even greater peace of mind by assisting individuals in maintaining a safe physical space.

We’ve developed an effective social distancing solution, consisting of our existing safety wearable, a new ultra-wideband IoT proximity tag, and online dashboard. Combining sensors, artifi cial intelligence and highly accurate time-of-fl ight technology, it provides a reliable method for both detecting accidents and alerting workers when they are in close proximity to their colleagues to safeguard themselves and others from potential infection.

20 July/August 2020 Wearable safety

The wearable device analyses trends in the user’s movements and highlights any abnormalities that could indicate an accident has taken place such as a fall or impact.

Designed to keep employers connected to their teams, it advocates a positive safety culture by providing important data and awareness into workplace behaviour. It is particularly empowering for lone workers based in isolated areas and enables procedures to be put in place so that emergencies can be responded to promptly and efficiently, regardless of location. The wearable also helps workers maintain social distancing by vibrating when they come within two metres of others. This alert acts as a reminder for employees to keep a safe distance from their colleagues, even when they are focused on their work.

Why ultra-wideband? Ultra-wideband technology is widely used in sports to improve practice due to it being able to track movement to within centimetre precision. Given its incredibly high accuracy and resistance to interference, we decided to combine it with our wearable. It’s up to 12 times more accurate than Bluetooth technology and the ultra-wideband IoT tag allows for incredibly high location accuracy, which is critical for

Components in Electronics

an effective social distancing solution. It works in conjunction with the wearable to continually monitor the distance between devices with centimetre precision. It is also much faster and less susceptible to interference than technologies, including GPS and Bluetooth, making it much more reliable in busy working environments.

Contact tracing

The transmission of airborne viruses is a major concern for all employers, and in particular the repercussions should an employee display symptoms of COVID-19 and be exposed to other workers. Wearable technology enables employers to run their operations responsibly and work closely with employees to effectively minimise the risk of the disease spreading. If a worker receives a COVID-19 diagnosis, they can update their status within their app, which sends an alert to employers with a record of anyone they have been in close contact with. Employers can then send a notification to all these individuals for possible self-isolation.

Dashboard and data

The online dashboard provides an overview of accident data and highlights areas where safety improvements need to be made, helping employers prevent future accidents. Through the Dashboard, the employer can set the minimum separation distance for

their company and any distance breaches are fed back to the dashboard, along with the number of times they have been breached, and the length of time. Technology is still viewed as a danger to privacy, but our solutions ensure employee confidentiality. The only time that location and health data is shared is in the event of an emergency - if the user has had an accident or triggered emergency mode. The social distancing feature operates by monitoring the distance between two devices rather than the locality of devices, meaning an employee’s whereabouts is free from scrutiny. Even the contact tracing element is integrated in a way that balances privacy with safety.

A safer workplace

Implementing physical distancing measures is essential for establishing safer working practices and promoting high levels of health and safety to protect the wellbeing of staff. Having an automated system that keeps workers a safe distance apart could allow critical work to restart within the UK, while adhering to the government’s social distancing guidelines and preventing the spread of the virus within workplaces. It could be key to enable employees to return to work sooner while also supporting employers’ moral and legal responsibilities.

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