With stricter safety requirements being administered regularly, the importance of complying with industrial safety in hazardous areas is becoming progressively more essential.
Real Time Location Systems, or RTLS, are a perfect solution for the operational environment of today. An RTLS monitors the location and status information of personnel and assets in real time, providing the latest business intelligence to inform everything from crisis decision-making to route planning and work schedules. It can often also integrate with existing solutions, such as access control and PAGA systems, as part of a site wide IIoT connectivity program.
When trying to address the requirement for worker safety, we start by identifying operational challenges that need to be overcome – what do we want our worker safety system to help us achieve?
Improving Worker Safety with RTLS
Quickly locate missing or injured personnel and send help to their location
Process industry environments can cover vast areas, with multiple levels and a range of hazardous areas. Locating employees, contractors, and facility visitors in hazardous areas can be an enormous challenge. RTLS allows you to locate workers across your entire site, with information about each individual’s location. In addition to this, you also gain the ability to quickly identify specialist workers, such as first responders, to send assistance to others instantaneously.
Enhanced situational awareness
An RTLS not only allows you to locate individual personnel, but it also gives you access to complete situational awareness. Staff are often spread out across large facilities making it difficult to locate personnel in real time. The deployment of an RTLS allows visual access to all sections of your site from one simple interface – giving you complete control and understanding of all business activities in relation to both personnel and asset tracking.
Real time information for optimised decision making
It is essential that industries such as oil & gas, chemicals, and pharmaceutical manufacturing adopt a high standard of rapid response and decision-making procedures to help create a safer environment for all personnel. In the event of an emergency, rapid response can increase the chances of a best-case outcome. Optimised decision making is a key advantage of deploying an RTLS, with the ability to receive immediate popup notifications in emergency scenarios and personnel identification alerts.
Dynamic counts of mustered and non-mustered workers in an emergency
As part of the solution, individual personnel tags are used to monitor when an employee, contractor or visitor enters the proximity of a muster point. Therefore, you can access information on what employees are in a ‘safe zone’ and understand the number of people required to safely muster. This helps to understand when specialist personnel and procedures are needed to be deployed to assist with the rescue and safety of non-mustered workers in the event of an emergency.
RTLS Emergency Response
Active RFID Wi-Fi tags incorporate emergency call buttons, allowing all employees, contractors, and visitors to raise an alarm in real time. Active RFID tags transmit individual ID signals at regular intervals to specifically locate individuals, making it possible to act fast. Software, such as MobileView, allows control rooms to quickly identify if a call button has been pressed and where on the site it was activated, reducing the emergency response time to the person’s location. An audit trail of events is then stored – including date/time stamps, actions taken, and personnel involved – to then be transferred and implemented in future emergency training and planning improvements.
RTLS Reduces Human Error
Human error can be defined through human decisions or behaviours that can reduce efficiency and effectiveness in the event of an emergency. Due to real time automated monitoring of active RFID tags, there is no need for personnel to ‘swipe or tap out’ of an area – meaning workers can safely remove themselves during a hazard in a timelier manner.
In addition to this, LF exciters can also be set up to cover wide exits, so that workers do not need to exit through narrow gates or bottlenecks during an emergency.
Better Accountability and Compliance
The historical trail of worker locations can not only be used for emergency training and planning but can also improve overall organisation accountability and compliance. The RFID tags as part of an RTLS solution can prove that workers (whether that be quality inspectors, security guards, or contractors) were at the right place at the right time for compliance records and as a result – reduce invoice leakage.
Finally, creating a level of added security is another great benefit of using RTLS for worker safety. RTLS integrates with systems such as Lenel OnGuard, C.Cure, and others to ensure access control functionality. The identification of personnel moving into hazardous areas, locating security personnel when needed, and ensuring that visitors and contractors can be monitored throughout the duration of their visit is critical to ensuring worker safety.
Extronics RTLS solutions are based on standard Wi-Fi networks, therefore, eliminating the need for proprietary networks. Customers can leverage the same Wi-Fi network for other applications, such as data transfer or communications – consequently, resulting in greater ROI.
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