Man down: geolocation improvement solutions

When it comes to occupational safety, there are expressions that are often repeated, such as “man down.”

“Man down” describes the condition of a worker who, from an upright, vertical position, more or less abruptly switches to a horizontal position such as in the event of a fall.
The “man down” or “man down” is basically a feature found in many IIoT (Industrial Internet of Things) personal protective equipment that allows early recognition of an emergency situation and, consequently, rescue intervention, thanks to integrated geolocation.

Why is geolocation important in case of man down?
The phrase “man down” makes us think of construction sites, construction, or large industrial plants and power plants where a worker is involved in an accident and a colleague warns everyone of what has happened.
This is an unrealistic situation, however, in lone working conditions, i.e., all those situations where the employee is forced to work alone, without coworkers or people nearby who can notice what is happening to him and possibly raise alarms.

Geolocation serving safety

When the system detects a man down and gives notice, it is important to immediately activate a rescue and recovery operation for the worker, both for his sake and to avoid running into unpleasant criminal situations.

But how to do this if we do not know exactly where the worker is?
Geolocation comes to our aid, indoor or outdoor, depending on where the personnel affected are working.
Among the most popular indoor geolocation systems we have the real time location system – or RTLS – while for outdoor we use GPS, basically the same solution employed by navigators in our cars.

For these reasons, it is essential to combine different detection functions such as man-down and geolocation through IIoT, because this will save companies problems – including legal ones – and they will have the ability to act more quickly when needed, whether in rescuing workers or when machinery and plant malfunctions occur.

The role of IIoT personal protective equipment in occupational safety

The main risk of a lone worker occurs in the situation where he couldn’t be able to call for help in case of injury or illness and not being rescued in a timely manner.

Therefore, the company is required to assess risks in a preventive way, to reduce as much as possible opportunities for injuries, accidents and even psychological discomfort that might occur and, accordingly, seek solutions for it.

Managers are asked to:
– establish appropriate operating procedures;

– activate health surveillance assessing whether the worker is in the ideal condition to carry out activities alone;

– identify technical solutions, such as the adoption of IIoT man-down safety devices.

Safety devices of such type have been recognized as a valid measure for the prevention of occupational accidents by INAIL, and their use allows companies to gain access to a lower insurance premium.
In addition, they have been mandated by law in isolated work situations as an improvement action with regard to occupational health and safety.

Occupational safety provisions

Occupational safety has been a topic since the industrial revolution and concerns the health of workers in relation to the working environment.

Occupational medicine has been discussed since the 1700s, and since then protection of working conditions has been defined within the Civil Code and the protection of health and labor in all its forms and applications in the Constitution.
In 1950, specific legislation dedicated to preventive health protection of workers-all of them, including video terminal workers-was born in Italy twenty years later, the Statute of Workers, still the cornerstone on the subject, saw the light of day, and more recently European directives have also been introduced to regulatory rules.

Today the reference in our country is Legislative Decree 81/2008, which has revisited and contains most of the decrees from the 1950s onward, as well as most recent innovations.

IIoT at workplace safety service

The Industrial Internet of Things acronym – IIoT – is used to refer to connected devices used in industry. Therefore, IIoT refers to all systems that enable monitoring of a work situation, whether it is safety of operators or operation of machinery. The purpose? To improve efficiency, reduce accidents and prevent hazardous situations.

IIoT encompasses all commonly used products connecting to a network and exchanging information with each other. They do so by using the Internet just like the parent category IoT, but in the industrial environment.

Industry 4.0 in essence is just that: the application of IIoT technologies in industrial settings, whether they are sensors or low-power wireless modules.

Laws mandates use of IIoT devices in the industrial environment, especially in specific circumstances such as solitary work. Devices with a man-down function are an indispensable safety garrison for the fulfillment of the Safety Consolidation Act, which requires employers to take all necessary prevention and safety measures to protect the health of their employees.
The legal provision contains a chapter dedicated to regulations concerning isolated work, specifies tasks involved and indicates two obligations concerning them: equipping those who work in isolated places with the first aid medication packet and an easily activated means of communication, so they can quickly send an emergency signal when needed.

IIoT solutions in preventing workplace accidents

So what are the requirements of safety systems that a company should look for in an IIoT device to protect the health of its solo workers?

  • Real-time verification of “man-down” condition, possibly in 3 modes that can be combined as needed to improve and minimize false alarms:
    1. inclination greater than 75° from rest condition;
    2. prolonged absence of movement, which verifies the worker’s immobility beyond a defined time by customizable parameters;
    3. abrupt acceleration, which detects a fall of the worker.
  • Management of company evacuation plans in order to count the number of people present at the collection point and identify missing people. The solution makes it possible to minimize response time of rescue teams.
  • Integration with man-machine anti-collision systems, signaling with audio and visual notifications reduced distance between man and vehicle. These devices can also be applied to crane hooks to create safety perimeters and avoid dangerous situations.

An example of how these functions can be integrated with each other?

At Smart Track, we have designed an evaluation kit that allows all these things to be done while protecting the health of employees and ensuring that employers can sleep soundly.

To avoid the possible privacy problems, Smart Track solutions use two different approaches:

– event-based system: there is no tracking of the worker’s location in real time, the system only enables tracking following an emergency event (man down, SOS, etc.)

– anonymous system: there is no association of the worker’s name with the unique identifier of the wearable device. At the beginning of work shift, the worker takes a wearable device from a rack, turns it on, and wears it completely anonymously. Following an emergency event, the safety officer receives an alert report regarding an identifier with an associated geolocated position, without any information on the call sign of the operator

For more information on workplace safety issues and Smart Track solutions, you can contact us – we will design a customized solution for you.