5 Ways Augmented Reality Can Improve Safety on Construction Sites

May 28th 2020
By: Cari-Ann Carty

Our world is changing, and in many ways, for the better. One currently popular use of tech is creating augmented reality, AR for short. But what is AR and how exactly can it help improve worksite safety?

What is Augmented Reality?
VR, or virtual reality, creates a totally immersive surrounding generated by a computer. Augmented reality, however, is when a device superimposes a digital image over your reality. You can think of it as someone photoshopping an object into whatever you might be looking at. You might have experienced AR as part of a cell phone game like Pokemon Go or a mini-game on the Nintendo 3DS.

How can AR help improve construction safety?
People have been speculating about ways this technology can help improve safety on construction sites for a while now. Here are five ways AR can help promote safety on your sites.

1. Preparation
Computer-generated 3D models can now be used along with blueprints to get an idea of what the building will look like during construction, assisting greatly in preplanning of safety measures such as scaffolding layout and heavy equipment work zones. The models can be used to predetermine problems that could arise during construction and be used to formulate a preconstruction safety plan.

2. Overlay
An overlay on the actual construction site can be used to see the completed building in its final location but also to see specific aspects of the building plans superimposed over what is already there. For instance, it is possible to just see the electrical wire in the walls or piping in the ground. During the construction process, the danger zones marked during the preplanning stage can be highlighted in AR and avoided. AR can also provide accurate in-person measurements of physical spaces to make sure everything can fit where it is supposed to be, and changes can be made before mistakes happen.

3. Labels and Warnings
One way AR glasses can receive information is to scan “tags” such as QR codes placed in specific locations on the construction site. These “tags” tell the AR system what to display and can be anything from 3D models to text information. This can be used to provide hazard information. For instance, a hazard sign could also have a QR code that pulls up the full data sheet information on that particular hazard. Other uses include providing lockout-tagout information and alerts if something goes wrong.

4. Communication
AR headsets can ensure that a work-related communication device is on hand for workers to stay in touch. It can be used to keep multiple teams working on or off the site connected through both sound and video. The headsets are hands-free to stay on while working, allowing the employee to receive critical information such as safety alerts instantly.

5. Safety Training
Safety training can become more interactive and immersive with augmented reality. Training scenarios designed to test if workers know what to do in dangerous situations can better represent their real-life counterparts without any danger to the trainee. Simulations of heavy machinery can be used to test operational knowledge before interacting with the real thing.

Should you try AR?
There are several brands of AR glasses available for purchase, including Sony, Google, Microsoft, Epson, Toshiba, Qualcomm, Vuzix, APX, CastAR, AltoTech, and Recon.

Augmented reality is an amazing new technology that we are only beginning to explore and benefit from. Of course, when it comes to safety, be sure to thoroughly research any tech you decide to use before making a purchase. AR isn’t a perfect solution to all construction safety problems, but it could be a valuable tool to help keep employees safe.

Information Sources

3 Ways to Make Your Construction Site Safer with Augmented Reality Technology

4 ways Augmented Reality has Revolutionized the Construction Industry

Augmented Reality And The Construction Industry

Augmented Reality in Construction: 6 Applications in 2019