Working together to keep apart

SiteZone Safety donates specially created social distancing devices to protect construction workers while building ‘pop-up’ NHS Nightingale Hospital, Birmingham.

On request from Interserve Construction, proximity warning specialist, SiteZone Safety, devised and donated special personnel distancing systems (PDS) to enforce 2m rule among construction workers building the emergency COVID-19 hospital at the NEC, Birmingham.

SiteZone Safety donated six of its personnel distancing systems (PDS) to key construction staff on-site at NHS Nightingale, Birmingham. They used them to train and encourage workers to maintain safe social distancing while they transformed the NEC into a vital COVID-19 treatment hospital to service the Midlands. The PDS consists of a small 2kg pack, and a detection ‘tag’ which can be worn on the safety hat, attached to a belt or upper arm – with 100 hours of rechargeable battery life. The ‘trigger’ point, or “exclusion zone” can be configured to suit a site’s needs. The proximity alarms are triggered if workers get too close to each other when both their wearable tags will vibrate and the PDS alarms.

Two on-site “Safety Ambassadors” wore the PDS units full time and patrolled the site to ensure workers were observing the 2m rule. If not, they were reminded, with accompanying demonstrations using the PDS. The four remaining units were rotated between different key tradespeople on-site to reinforce the 2m rule – which intended to raise spatial awareness and affect behavioural change on site. Following the initial conversation with Interserve, SiteZone Safety made their first prototypes in 24 hours. They were demonstrated to the client within 48-hours and were being tested on-site at the NEC 96 hours later.

Stuart Palmer, site manager at NHS Nightingale says, “It was vital that we kept our construction staff protected from infection risk and encouraged them to work around each other safely. We knew about SiteZone Safety’s proximity warning expertise, and they have been able to meet the challenge for us in record time. There was an urgent need to get NHS Nightingale, Birmingham, completed, so high standards of health and safety practice were key drivers to the success of this project. SiteZone Safety’s PDS solution helped us achieve both.”

There were specific challenges when developing the PDS, including making it lightweight, easy to use, and efficiently powered to function for long periods of time. An ultra-light pack seemed like a sensible solution for quick deployment, therefore this is the method that has been used at the NEC.

Gary Escott, co-founder of SiteZone Safety says: “We had an unusually short period of time to develop and produce a solution that we could deploy quickly. The biggest single advantage we have is that our PDS is built on proven technology, with over 125 million hours in use. The technology has been repurposed for this new application i.e. an invisible virus is now the risk, not a moving vehicle or machine.”

Further details: