• John Larrimer

How Will Augmented Realty Affect Construction Safety?

Whenever work crews adapt a new technology or method, there needs to be a careful discussion about how it might affect construction safety. New innovations like augmented realty are reinventing the way that business is done in America, and the construction industry is no exception. According to the MIT Technology Review, several companies, such as Gilbane Building Company in Rhode Island, AECOM and the China State Construction Engineering Corporation, are already making plans to use augmented realty tools such as Microsoft HoloLens to be more efficient.

Augmented realty tools let workers see a virtual overlay over their actual vision. This has many useful applications in the construction business. For example, a worker could look at mockups of the planned project, and then check the plan against current work. This could save companies thousands of dollars in materials costs, and help workers do their jobs more effectively. Many companies have already reported large saving due to these technologies.

The advantages of these innovations are clear, but many are wondering about the potential effect on construction safety.

Is Augmented Realty Bad for Construction Safety?

Some are concerned that augmented realty could be dangerous to workers. For example, how does an augmented realty headset fit over existing safety gear? If a worker needs to remove a hard hat or safety glasses in order to use the device, it could be a potential hazard.

Additionally, the overlay on a worker’s vision could be a serious distraction. Many construction workers spend their days in a dangerous environment, where they need to be mindful of their surroundings at all times. Having extra distractions from high-tech glasses could cause serious, maybe even fatal, workplace injuries.

Currently, most teams that use augmented realty avoid the headsets on the actual sites, and instead use them from the safety of a mobile trailer or office. This may change, however, as tech companies target new applications in the industry. Hopefully, companies will establish new safety practices to accompany these tools, but until then, potential early adopters should use extra caution.

Larrimer & Larrimer, LLC is a workers’ compensation law firm that has been fighting for Ohio workers for more than 80 years.

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