Wireless technology brings safety benefits to shiprepair yards
Shiprepair & Maintenance: 4th Quarter 2019
There are numerous hazards associated with the shiprepair and conversion sector. The presence of welding, cutting and other hot works, flammable gases, limited number of escape routes and confined spaces, among others, are ever present dangers. Moreover, as work on the vessel progresses, it becomes an ever-changing, increasingly complex environment, presenting a constantly changing set of potential dangers and hazardous situations.
During later fit-out stages, scaffolding can often be used and with it the risk of fall from height. Applying coatings in confined spaces can lead to a build-up of volatile solvents.
As a consequence, medical alert and welfare check-in functionality are increasingly being utilised as part of planned response procedures. Advances in wireless technology and cloud-based data capture have a role to play in this context, mitigating the risks and facilitating timely responses.
“Enormous progress is being made with regards health and safety for shipyard operators. Much of this is being driven by advances in wireless technology, which have had the effect of increasing the visibility of everyone working in and around the vessel,” says John Newbury, product manager at Ramtech Electronics, one of the UK’s leading wireless systems technology specialists.
Newbury also points out that the increasing size of vessels further adds to the practical benefits that wireless technology can offer. He adds: “The latest wireless technology, which is capable of passing through most commonly used materials, allow yards to scale up to cover any size of vessel. As a consequence, wireless connectivity, using internet and apps, is fast becoming an integral part of the arsenal for improving health and safety.”
Using wireless technology with cloud-based data capture systems allows shipyards to implement a fully integrated fire, security and medical response system. This can be supported by an app that is able to interpret and respond to the data received.
In this scenario, facilities management or health and safety teams are able to receive real-time information regarding site emergencies, and instantly send customised alerts out to relevant site personnel. “This kind of technology is specifically developed for communicating fire, medical and other site emergencies to affected personnel both from deep within the vessel as well as over wider geographic dockside areas,” Newbury points out. “These can be transmitted via any internet connected device – for example, wireless fire alarm call points or security doors – whilst the app enables instant response decisions by management teams from any mobile device.”
If one of these call points is activated during a fire it alerts the entire vessel, or specified zones within the vessel, facilitating safe evacuation. For a medical alert or security breach, the technology enables responders to pinpoint exactly which call point is activated, immediately followed by deployment of a response team.
The technology can be integrated across the wider site, including the ability to alert emergency response teams when an intruder or unauthorised member of staff is detected opening a security door on site. It can equally be applied to lone worker situations, such as application of coatings in confined spaces. Alternatively, security patrols can raise a medical alert via call points from remote areas of the site, or utilise a ‘welfare check-in’ functionality that requires personnel to send a signal every 10 minutes verifying that they are safe and secure.
Data collated from the call points positioned on vessels while in the yard can be routinely collated through advances in Internet of Things (IoT) and wireless technology, combined with cloud-based service applications. “This data can be stored, processed and transmitted through cloud technology applications to nominated personnel, providing valuable information to health and safety officers,” says Newbury.