The Transmission Gully project is leading the way in safety for workers on site through the use of innovative technology that is designed to prevent collisions between machinery and ground staff on construction sites.

Wellington Gateway Partnership CEO Sergio Mejia says innovative technology being trialled on the Transmission Gully project will add another layer of protection for workers on the job.

“The formation of a public-private partnership to deliver the Transmission Gully motorway is a hallmark of the many positive benefits that have been made available to us,” says Sergio.

The new motorway site has provided an opportunity for the Hunter Safety Lab and project teams to work together to do some field testing of the Infrared Retro-reflector Identification System (IRIS) Detect product, which is aimed at keeping workers safe.

IRIS Detect is a type of pedestrian detection technology designed to prevent collisions between machinery and ground staff on construction sites. Sensors detect the reflective strip found on high-visibility safety vests, meaning everyone on site, including visitors and subcontractors, are detectable by default.

IRIS Detect sensors

IRIS Detect sensors mounted on the back of machinery detect ground staff and send an alert to the operator.

Hunter Safety Lab Founder, David Grove, says IRIS Detect has some unique benefits over traditional pedestrian detection systems.

“IRIS Detect recognises the reflector strips within high-vis vests, meaning that the system conforms to the user, or in this case, anyone who is wearing a high-vis vest. The most significant advantage of this technology over most other industrial pedestrian detection systems is that it doesn’t require ground staff to carry an electronic tag or change their behaviour in any way,” says David.

Construction Project Director, Boyd Knights, explains that as the Transmission Gully motorway is a very busy construction site with over 600 people and over 200 items of machinery at work, IRIS Detect will help to further improve site safety.

“The potential for interaction between people and machinery is ever present. If we can add another layer of protection in managing our critical hazards, in a practical way, then we should explore those options,” says Boyd.

Sensors mounted on machinery continuously emit pulses of non-visible light into blind spots around the machine. The driver receives an audio-visual alert when someone is detected in the blind spot.

IRIS Detect sensors

Field trials were carried out at the Transmission Gully motorway site on an articulated mobile crane. These cranes are often used in areas where there are staff on foot in the immediate area, and the machine is often reversing as part of its normal activities.

“Due to the success of the trials to date, we’re now considering the use of this technology on two of our small ‘Telehandlers’ which are pieces of equipment often used in laydown areas for loading and unloading trucks, and where a significant amount of reversing is involved.

“As part of our current Health and Safety practices, all workers are removed from machinery operating zones to eliminate interaction, however this technology would give another layer of protection to help the operator by notifying them of workers on foot who may have unintentionally wandered into the operating area or into one of their blind spots,” says Boyd.

“It’s important that we promote and support this sort of technology. We’re always looking at ways to improve what we do, and if, as an industry, we don’t support development of innovation, we are the poorer for it,” says Sergio.

Check out Hunter Safety Lab’s video showing a controlled field trial of the IRIS Detect technology onsite and also outside of the Transmission Gully motorway project's active construction site.