Oil and gas is globally a lucrative industry, known for providing relatively high wages to its workers. While the industry has been an economic boon in many oil and gas-producing regions, it comes at a cost: workers face many safety hazards that can lead to disabling or fatal injuries. The fatality rate is seven times higher than the average for all other industries, and this has been the case since the 1990s.
Some of the principal hazards that oil and gas industry workers face include being struck by objects, getting caught in between or inside something, fires and explosions, falls, getting trapped in confined spaces, and chemical exposure. In recent years, new technological developments may help provide further protection for these workers, reducing the risk of fatal accidents on the job.
As recently as ten years ago, GPS trackers were large, clunky devices found in vehicles. As technology has improved, the size of useable GPS devices has decreased dramatically, while their accuracy and reliability has improved. Today, GPS can be incorporated into devices small enough to be worn on one’s wrist or even finger.
Nowhere is this more evident than in a recent product, the NanoTracker from Round Solutions. This tiny GPS tracker is about the size of a piece of candy, but its size belies its impressive range of functions. With dimensions of a mere 40x20x3.5 mm, it’s one of the smallest tracking devices on the market today. Designed to be carried in a pocket or on a keyring, it’s suitable for everyday applications. A rugged, long-lasting battery can last up to 4 days before being recharged via USB, and a wide range of temperature resistance makes it suitable for outdoor use in challenging climates.
Not only does the NanoTracker detect the wearer’s location via GPS, but it’s also equipped with a Panic Button that can be activated in an emergency. Geofencing creates an alert when the wearer leaves a predetermined geographic area, and if the accelerometer doesn’t detect movement for a certain period of time, the device automatically sends an emergency call.
For gas and oil workers, this could provide a much-needed lifeline in confined spaces and other situations where the risk of accident is high. If a worker accidentally wanders into an unsafe area on an oil rig or in a refinery plant, the geofencing capability alerts both, the worker and their supervisors. The panic button could save the life of a worker who’s become trapped or confined in an area where they can’t get out, or alert other personnel immediately in case of a fire or chemical spill. In the dangerous world of oil and gas, a wearable device like the NanoTracker could be the difference between life and death.
As the oil and gas industry continues to thrive, worker safety is a matter of serious concern. New technologies like wearable tracking devices can help improve the safety and working conditions of workers in hazardous occupations, helping make the industry safer for the people on whom it depends.