New cases of work-related disease are currently reported at a rate of 17,000 incidents per year
This prompted the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) to develop the National Action Agenda 2010-2013, which aims to promote research into health and safety, particularly in the areas of construction, manufacturing, agriculture, forestry, and fishing.
The action plan advocates for “improved awareness and understanding of occupational health issues facing workers” and the collection of better data on exposure and health effects.
ACC Research commissioned Opus Research to develop equipment that integrates live-time video streaming with dust and noise exposure measures. Workers in a range of construction roles wore a custom designed backpack incorporating both a dust and a sound exposure monitor. Using a wireless network, data was transmitted from these monitors to specially designed software operated by an observer using a tablet. The software graphs the incoming data and integrates this with video feeds of either the observed worker’s environment, or from their own point of view.
The equipment was pilot tested by Opus Research staff at a range of sites, including during the construction of our own new premises in Petone. Of particular interest were the sudden spikes in exposure, such as when a nailgun produces a sound peak. There was also interest in less expected or hidden spikes, such as a dropped board that unsettles dust on the floor of the work area. Health and Safety practitioners shown the equipment believed it to be user friendly, and saw huge potential benefits for training staff to reduce their exposure risks. ACC Research and Opus are currently looking to apply the technology to our work in agricultural health and safety, particularly relating to quad bikes.
“The old adage that a picture paints a thousand words is very true, greatly reducing the need to try and translate what is quite technical data into information that workers and their managers can understand and make effective use of. This in itself will be highly engaging with the worker involved as issues and potential solutions are identified right there on the worksite and trialled.”
- Mike Ward, Health and Safety Advisor