Construction workers kept safe from Covid-19 by social distancing tech


WORKERS are being kept safe by social distancing technology on London’s new £4.1bn 25km super sewer project the Thames Tideway Tunnel. 

The technology which is warn on the wrist warns workers if they are too close to each other.

The technology delivers  analytics on how many “unsafe interactions” workers have experienced and is scored against an NHS score system.

Reactec Tideway watch - Coronavirus News UK
The new technology has been keeping workers safe during the projects construction.

Reactec, a spin out company from The University of Edinburgh developed its SAFE DISTANCE technology when the coronavirus  pandemic hit the UK in March 2020.

Reactec say they saw the need for a system which would efficiently inform how effective social distancing measures were and to ensure employers could take smarter control of their employees’ behaviour.

Tideway took advantage of Reactec’s offer to upgrade existing equipment used for monitoring exposure to harmful vibrations to additionally monitor SAFE-DISTANCE proximity.

The teams are now automatically informed on a regular basis of not just proximity events but patterns of social distancing behaviour, to proactively manage their workforce deployment.

They are also able to act swiftly in the event of colleagues testing positive for COVID-19 and to identify at-risk colleagues with comprehensive contact tracing data following the NHS gradings of risk.

Reactec Tideway watch - Coronavirus News UK
SAFE-DISTANCE was developed by technical experts at Reactec as a direct response to the COVID-19 crisis and the Scottish and UK Government’s introduction of social distancing protocols.

Beth Willoughby, Construction Director for the Costain, Vinci Grands Projets & Bachy Soletanche (CVB) joint venture delivering the eastern section, said: “The Reactec SAFE-DISTANCE technology has been absolutely imperative to be able to run our sites and minimise our productivity risk because of COVID.

“We realised there was no way of knowing who had been in contact with each other, other than to carry out interviews and that relied on everyone remembering who they’d been in contact with.

“We were faced with sending home whole teams.

“Over time, the cost of that would have easily gone into the millions.

“Now, within ten minutes of a positive case being reported to us we can pinpoint who has been within two metres of that person for more than 15 minutes and the rest of the shift is able to continue without interruption.”

Reactec’s SAFE-DISTANCE application was repurposed from the company’s system for monitoring workers’ exposure to Hand and Arm Vibration (HAV), suitably named, HAVwear, which enables employers to capture representative data of vibration risk exposure and provide actionable intelligence on how to reduce this risk in line with EU regulations and the HSE guidance on hand and arm vibration.

Reactec CEO, Jacqui McLaughlin, said:“Despite the vaccine roll-out now well underway, we recognise that there are many employees that cannot work from home and are not likely to receive the vaccine for many months meaning social distancing will remain in place for some time to come.

“Our SAFE-DISTANCE tech was developed to help employers keep their operations on track and to help protect their employees who are not in a position to work within the safety of their homes.

“Our collaboration with the Tideway east team has led to our confidence in SAFE-DISTANCE as an effective tool for business continuity and employee care.

“This deployment showcases how our tech can be used at scale, but it can also be just as effective within smaller businesses too.”