Keeping workers safe is a key focus area for risk managers and rugged devices play a huge role.
23 Aug 2021

Using Purpose Built Rugged Devices for Worker Safety

Workplace health and safety can have a measurable effect on an organization’s bottom line. Keeping workers safe is a key focus area for risk managers. Any worker could be at risk of a safety incident. To fully leverage the safety capabilities of digital solutions, organizations need to deploy rugged devices that are purpose-built to handle harsh environments.

Many organizations have strict site induction or other safety requirements that workers and visitors must comply with to combat this. These measures have moved from paper-based to digital, thereby letting businesses leverage technology to streamline safety processes and improve accuracy. 

While some of these technologies could potentially be managed by consumer-grade devices, the reality is that these devices are likely to break or stop working relatively quickly. These devices are fragile and susceptible to dust, vibration, shocks, water, oil, and other common elements in industrial environments. Thus, choosing an off-the-shelf commercial device and even outfitting it with a so-called rugged protective cover will likely cause more problems than solutions. 

A purpose-built rugged device is built from the ground up out of hardened materials with fewer weak points. An industrial-grade rugged device can withstand the temperature extremes and dusty or dirty environments that consumer-grade devices balk at. 

What to look for in a rugged device

A highly readable screen helps works read data in harsh glare or dim lights, making it easier for them to respond or react to situations.

1. A highly readable screen

For example, when completing safety checklists and inductions, using a rugged device with a highly readable screen can help make the process easier. Lighting conditions can vary in industrial settings, so a screen that is readable in harsh glare or dim light is essential.

2. A responsive touch screen

It’s essential to have a responsive touch screen that can be used with gloves, wet hands, or a stylus. This is because users in industrial settings may need to input or retrieve information quickly without washing and drying their hands.

3. A camera

Devices should also include a camera to capture images of hazards and repairs, making verbal or written descriptions unnecessary and improving reporting accuracy. This makes it easier to digitalize operations and keep track of issues that need to be rectified.  

Choosing rugged devices with high processing power to run applications help ensure worker safety

4. High processing power and connectivity

With augmented and virtual reality applications becoming more prevalent today, choosing devices with the processing power and connectivity required to run these applications reliably is a must. Consumer-grade devices don’t necessarily meet the standard, and their inability to withstand harsh environments makes them a poor choice in this scenario.  

5. Comprehensive, independent certifications

It’s essential to select a provider that builds truly rugged solutions from the ground up. These solutions need to comply with independent certifications such as Military Standard (MIL-STD), Ingress Protection (IP), ATEX, American National Standards Institute (ANSI), and Salt Fog certification.

6. A fully rugged warranty as standard

It’s essential to choose a rugged solution from a provider willing to stand by the devices. The warranty should cover the damaged devices, including accidents, giving you peace of mind that a damaged machine won’t affect your ability to continue operating as usual. Look for a warranty that simplifies the process of reporting a product issue, fixes and returns your device within days, and promises to replace your unit if it can’t be repaired. 

Use cases

Workers in the utility industry need to be able to reliably go through safety checklists and check manuals.

1. Utilities

Workers in the utility industry need to be able to go through safety checklists and check manuals reliably. Because they spend a great deal of time outdoors, they need a readable device in bright sunlight and can equally withstand rain and windy conditions. 

A rugged portable device makes it easier for utility workers to maintain equipment and infrastructure, report in real-time properly, and report safety issues as soon as they arise. 

2. Oil and gas

Hazardous materials and environments are common in the oil and gas industry, making it essential to have a rugged computing solution with ATEX, ANSI, and IECEX certifications. Wearing personal protective equipment (PPE) can make it challenging to work with devices, and conventional screens can be hard to read. Getac’s purpose-built devices overcome this with highly responsive and readable touch screens. 

3. Public safety

Emergency services like ambulance, police, and fire and rescue need devices that provide first responders with critical information contributing to situational awareness and decision-making. These devices must withstand moisture, temperature extremes, drops, shocks, vibration, and more. First responders also need a device that can go from a vehicle mount to handheld or strapped to the worker’s hand for instant information. It could be what saves someone’s life. 

4. Transportation and logistics

Mobility is essential for worker safety in transportation and logistics environments. Long hours in a noisy, vibrating truck cab can cause consumer-grade devices to fail. Rugged devices are ideal because they are purpose-built for a challenging environment. In doing so, users can be sure they’ll withstand the knocks, drops, and shocks without compromising connectivity and safety. 

5. Manufacturing

Whether manufacturing in a cleanroom environment or in harsh conditions, a rugged device is essential for worker safety. It ensures they can manage and communicate safety risks and notify emergency responders if an incident occurs. They should not have to worry about the device’s connectivity, usability, or responsiveness. 

Rugged that can withstand harsh conditions in forestry or mining industry are essential for proper worker safety.

6. Natural resources

When workers are in a forestry or mining application, they need to be in touch and conduct safety inspections. Indeed, their device can withstand harsh conditions. Fully rugged devices are essential to let workers see the information they need. This can be on-screen where they can enter data using the touch screen and/or camera. Reliability is everything in an environment where safety must come first. 

7. Automotive

From R&D and manufacturing to vehicle health checks and routine maintenance, rugged devices support the automotive industry. This includes putting applications, information, and technical data at workers’ fingertips. They need to be able to operate their rugged device at a moment’s notice. Reporting safety hazards as they occur is a crucial part of this. 

Getac is a leading global provider of rugged computing solutions to suit just about every industry. The result is a safer, more productive workplace with reliable technology that stands up to harsh and unpredictable environments. 

Contact the team today to discover how Getac’s rugged solutions can help keep workers safe in your organization.

Joe Martin is the Product Development and Industry Solutions Director at Getac and is an award-winning technical products and services sales management and business development professional.

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