2021. Proceed with hope, optimism, at 2m distance, and a mask at the ready.

COVID-19 has bid us a happy new year by staying close – far too close to us.  We are back in lockdown, and the infection numbers are through the roof – what a sobering thud back to earth after our meagre, but desperately longed-for Christmas. Yet, we know that there’s help on the horizon with new vaccines, and we must focus on that as a way out of this situation. Normality will be back – not immediately, but it will return.

I look forward to the day when I write one of these blogs without referring to the pandemic. However, it is so relevant to what we do here at SiteZone Safety, that I can’t avoid it. In fact, it’s been a huge influence on the business from the very first quarantine in spring 2020 until now.

My team and I have spent a lot of effort to get the new version of our Personnel Distancing System finalised and it is now being used. As the country struggles to try and function amid the biological threat and the restrictions that we now live with daily, there are some industries that just have to keep going, like construction and waste and recycling. These workers haven’t really had much of a break, especially on major construction projects, with their big budgets, important stakeholders and exacting schedules that must be met. The waste sector too has had to battle through, dealing with the fallout of our increased online shopping and panic buying.

Therefore, it’s been down to safety providers like us to come up with solutions to enable such workers to carry on safely, at a distance. And well, SiteZone is all about protecting at distance – so we’ve been busy. We’ve been lucky to be able to contribute to finding solutions to the occupational pandemic safety issues.

I’ve also been thinking more about the role of technology in safety because that has dominated our creative thinking here at SiteZone Safety more than ever in 2020, and spilling over into 2021. I’ll be sharing further thoughts about this in future. But for now, it has become even more apparent to me that working smarter and using technologically based solutions have a significant part to play in safety management. It’s the only aspect that can match the dynamics of a changing world fairly seamlessly. It’s adaptable, integrated easily into existing systems, reliable, instils a real sense of security and gets the job done.

I also cannot ignore the feedback that we have received from our clients about our proximity warning products. Site managers report positive changes in safety awareness behaviour; plant operators feel less tense about potential accidents because of equipment blind spots; personnel feel safer that the proximity warning tags alert them to collision danger. The technology/human interface is functioning well, and helping people keep and feel safe at work.

As safety professionals we will have to learn to embrace change, and provide solutions using different means and thinking. I’ve often said that sticking to the old ways is not progressive for an organisation. Having been sorely tested with a brand-new threat, we had no choice but to change our approaches to absolutely everything in the workplace. Now that we’ve done it in a panic, we must refine our approach and continue strategically.

I’m not abandoning all hope. It may feel very gloomy now, with a daunting start to 2021. However, we have the tools and brainpower to make a positive difference, so let’s just keep calm, carry on and do that.

About the author

Gary Escott is the co-founder of SiteZone Safety, he has worked in the field of mobile plant safety for 15 years and has worked on the introduction of technology based safety products across other sectors. His goal is reducing the risk of collisions between vehicles and vulnerable persons using innovative products and technology.

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