Work Placement, Deloitte Australia

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Smart Hard Hat

*This idea belongs to my team member, Brent Fikowski. I wouldn't take credit for his idea.

Situation: Safety at construction and mine sites is a major priority not only in Australia but around the world. Hard hats provide safety to workers from heavy impact.

Complication: Safety at labour intensive sites is not confined to injury sustained by head impacts. Overworking results in lower productivity over time and injury is more likely to occur when a worker is highly fatigued. Strenuous work can cause serious harm including strokes heart attacks and so on. If a worker is trapped and for any reason cannot access a mobile communication device how can they receive help. What happens if a worker is knocked unconscious when no one is around? How do you ensure employees always wear their helmets?

Question: How can hard hats be updated to provide better safety to workers?

Answer: By creating the next generation of hard hats with built-in technology designed to provide enhanced safety benefits. The Smart Hard Hat will have several features that increase the safety of workers on the job site. The hat will constantly monitor heart rate, perspiration, breathing rate and brain activity. The Smart Hard Hat will also respond to verbal commands in times of emergency. All helmets will be connected via ZigBee technology, bouncing the individual information off of each another until all the data reaches a central location. If a worker’s vitals go above a threshold level the worker will be notified through a speaker in their helmet. If the vitals are at a very dangerous level notifications will be sent to help that worker. Workers can use the helmet to call for help in times of emergency as well. The technology between the helmets will be simple but effective, it can identify the location of workers for safety reasons, and notify them if they need to move to a safer area or to help a co-worker.

Please leave a comment so that we could improve this idea.

  • May 7 2013: Few notes to remember:
    1. When adding those features on a hard hat, it means adding extra weight onto the head of the wearer. It creates more hazard than help. (IMO)
    2. The communication system (device to device) used might harm the wearer with exposure to RF or microwave.

    I say, leave the hard hats as it is.
    Improvements for hard hats should be
    a) the type of material of the cap for better protection (eg added protection from UV, Thermal cooling system, better shape for protection on the sides)
    b) better suspension system
    c) a mechanism to keep the hard hat in place when bending and doing similar actions and I have seen a good improvement which they call "hat grabber" instead of a chin strap
    d) attachments such as lamps, face shield, ear muffs, nape shades, signal lights or reflectors (for fog or dim environment). Given that these attachments should not add significant weight to the whole hard hat system.
  • Apr 15 2013: Facinating idea that this constuction worker totally agrees with. However, it will be a tough sell to the bean counters in the corporate offices when the technology will drive the price of the $10 hard hat to $100 or more. Great idea but good luck getting it off the ground.
  • Apr 13 2013: Hi MinJun Kim.
    Your question: How can hard hats be updated to provide better safety to workers?
    In just the way you suggest.
    It is a great idea and might even become specialized to different kinds of dangerous construction work using different tech specifications depending on the work, construction site, already known dangers and so on.

    Programmable software might be interchangeable into helmets so that it isn't necessary to make different helmets for all the various kinds of labor humans do.

    Maybe a microphone so that a worker can simply speak into it reminding themselves of where their work ended for the day, so that on the next work day, they can easily be reminded where they stopped and can now finish that part before moving on to another location or another task.
    I saw that sort of thing everywhere in construction. Either through forgetfulness, lack of discipline or simple uncaring negligence, workers many times forgot where their work ended the day before and that was left undone the next day.
    Sometimes this can be dangerous immediately, later on. or leads to repairs that bring costs up. It can be a reminder that reminds so that one doesn't forget to speak into the microphone. I'm just trying out ideas here so maybe they are good or maybe they are not. It could also be used to verify work done in case of problems that wind up in court.

    I believe that if someone opened up a physical massage business, to serve the repetitive damage done to construction workers of all kinds, offered by the company they work for and mandatory at the end of each work week, medical claims, injuries and time off from work, would be drastically reduced.
    Massage is a form of passive exercise. Exercise is only for short periods of time. However in construction, a new worker will find that the labor builds up their bodies but after a short time, because it is for longer hours, begins to tear the body down and massage can greatly aid in recovery.
    Good idea. Good luck.
  • Apr 13 2013: I hadn't thought of this. In the American military helmuts have been redisigned. When I was in the oil patch, the old guys didn't wear them because you were a gonner if certain things happen.
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    Apr 13 2013: You are asking the wrong people.