RMIT University researcher Ruwini Edirisinghe has invented a smart vest that monitors health of construction workers in real time.
The vest uses sensors that measure a worker's body temperature and heart rate. It sends data wirelessly to a smartphone app which alerts the user to any abnormalities. The innovation is in response to an increase in heat-related accidents. In addition, a NASA climate report warned that temperatures in the last decade have been the warmest in the last century.
Dr. Edirisinghe began her research on the smart vest a year ago. "Heat related illness is of serious concern in the construction industry, and can lead to fatalities. It can cause heat stroke and damage to body organs and the nervous system resulting in permanent disability or even death. A big part of the problem is some workers don't recognize the early warning signs. This technological solution will hopefully change that."
The symptoms of heat illness are feeling sick, neauseous, dizzy, or weak. In addition, heat illness victims can become clumsy, collapse, suffer convulsions, and die.
Dr. Edirisinghe said, "Globally, the construction industry is one of the lowest performing industries in terms of its safety record. Construction workers in extreme temperatures and humid environments, confined spaces, and near radiant heat sources are vulnerable to risks."
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