A Gold Coast-based start-up has unveiled new Australian-first technology which would improve construction worker safety and help protect building subcontractors from incurring fines.
The neXtrack digital safety platform is able to monitor hazards on construction sites like dust, noise, heat, fumes and exhaust. It can generate data on hazard levels to demonstrate controls set out in Safe Work Method Statements (SWMS) are working.
Until now, demonstrating compliance to dust levels on construction sites has been a complex and costly exercise, leaving subcontractors vulnerable to financial penalties from safety regulators for being unable to prove compliance.
neXtrack provides a crucial solution as new codes of practice come into effect that mandate builders be able to validate dust management controls set out in SWMS or face harsh on the spot fines.
neXtrack founder and construction industry expert Paul Brennan said the platform filled a major safety gap.
“neXtrack takes SWMS and brings them to life by monitoring, measuring and reporting on hazards set out in the document,” Mr Brennan said.
“It’s the first time SWMS have been integrated with controls and monitors to provide meaningful data and validate that controls are effective.
“Monitoring dust and validating compliance in real time are major issues in the industry, but builders haven’t known how to do it until now or haven’t had the technology.
“neXtrack helps fills the gap between the dust controls in the SWMS and proving compliance with data where the work is being done.
“For workers, it means exposure to hazardous dust on construction sites can be monitored and controlled. It’s peace of mind that they are working in a safe environment.
“For subbies, it means they can easily implement the controls set out in the SWMS and then prove it with data if WHS inspectors request them to. Not only will it help the way they work, it will also strengthen the relationship and trust with their workforce.
“The industry can use neXtrack to truly demonstrate that controls are able to be validated and effective.
“Project owners, builders and their subbies now have the ability to automate the process of hazard monitoring and implementing controls. We believe it won’t just save time and money; it will save lives.”
neXtrack offers subscribers access to downloadable SWMS templates. Individual hazards and controls for a construction site are established in the SWMS.
The neXtrack digital safety platform works by using portable hazard monitoring equipment strategically positioned around a site to monitor levels of dust, noise or heat and logs that they are in line with the levels set out in the SWMS.
“It gives subcontractors a roadmap for implementing the dust controls in a SWMS,” Mr Brennan said.
“It helps make SWMS real and ensures they are doing what they are supposed to be doing – keeping workers safe.”
neXtrack has been developed as a solution to the occupational lung disease epidemic, including silicosis.
ln 2019 the Federal Government established the National Dust Disease Taskforce to address concerns about the emerging trend of new cases in accelerated silicosis in Australia.
Silicosis is caused by inhalation of respirable crystalline silica generated when cutting, grinding and polishing material with silica. The re-emergence of silicosis has been mostly driven by the popularity of engineered stone material used in benchtops since the early 2000s.
While silicosis can take decades to emerge after exposure, the Taskforce found more than 500 cases of silicosis had been identified from 2000-2019. Overall, people diagnosed with silicosis lose on average 11.6 years of life, so prevention is vital.
The Taskforce handed down a final report in July this year that contained seven recommendations that support a range of regulatory and non-regulatory actions designed to have an impact in the short to medium term on improving worker health and safety.