Being an HVAC worker is one of the most dangerous jobs in US. Employees not only work on roofs, in cramped areas, and high ladders that put them at risk of falls and injuries, but have the potential to be electrocuted, and suffer abrasions to the skin. In 2015, the US Department of Labor received more than 37,000 reports of separate accidents that resulted in injuries in the HVAC trade, with around 29 fatalities. These statistics show that while HVAC workers may be wearing and utilizing safety/preventative gear or equipment, it’s not necessarily the most efficient way to keep them safe or provide them tools to react in an emergency.
Depending on the job and what scenario they find themselves in, HVAC workers may not always have the ability to call 911 in an emergency. Or if they fall or a struck by an object, HVAC workers may be unconscious. This common scenario makes it impossible for the workers to use a cell phone and reach for help.
According to the Pew Research Center, approximately 95 percent of Americans now own a cell phone of some type, and more than one-third own a smartphone. Although these devices may provide many conveniences to users, in emergency situations their use is limited. Cellular devices require the user to still be conscious, or within range of the phone to call for help, making the device un-reliable for mobile HVAC workers and not the most plausible option for ensuring workers stay safe.
But there’s a better solution to providing emergency communication for workers that can be easily carried or worn. The specific devices we are talking about is mPERS devices, which can automatically report an incident to emergency services so workers can receive help as soon as possible. mPERS devices, which have been used by seniors for years, are essentially a help button that can be pressed to alert emergency services that a worker needs help. In recent years, these devices have become even more beneficial outside of the senior space because they no longer require a base station device to place calls, which limited their range of use.
mPERS devices are small, portable, and lightweight. They use up-to-date location technology, and some even offer built-in fall advisory capabilities. These devices can detect horizontal and vertical movement and can initiate a call for help to emergency services without the need to even press a button. This is perfect in situations where HVAC workers may be unresponsive because of an accident or medical emergency, eliminating the need to call for help themselves entirely. The cloud-based technologies found in mPERS devices make it possible for Central Stations to pick up and response to the need for help as soon as possible. If a worker falls on the job, the device can report it via a text message or red flag in a software system.
The devices can also last much longer on one charge than a normal cell phone, making this another benefit of a mPERS device being used by HVAC workers. By having less functions, no screen, apps, or texting ability to drain battery, you aren’t constantly on them doing something. They can be turned off, but many also come with a “sleep” mode, where once the SOS button is pressed, the exact location information of the worker is sent to a central reporting station where an emergency call can be placed. There are mPERS devices on the market that can last up to 30 days on a single charge.
The use of mPERS devices can also make it easier to keep track of the number of incidences that occur, where they occur, and the type of accident that occurs. This is valuable information that can help implement newer safety tactics to avoid a repeat accident, for both workers and employers.
But not just any mPERS device can satisfy all the needs of an HVAC worker that will be utilizing this device. Several things should be considered before selecting a device. One of the most important considerations is looking into mPERS devices that are capable of 5G technology. By the end of 2022, all major cell phone networks will fully transition to 5G technology, making out-of-date devices that can only handle 3G or 4G useless. Another consideration is the ability to upgrade an mPERS device down the line if it becomes necessary with new data networks and technologies evolving every day.
Whether it’s a pendant, clipped to the pocket or belt, etc. picking a wearable device (mPERS device) that makes the most sense for HVAC workers’ specific needs is an important part of taking advantage of all of the safety benefits that can potentially help save lives and improve the health of HVAC workers.
Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) has moved beyond face shields, protective suits, safety glasses, and working gloves. While these are all vital pieces of equipment for HVAC workers to use, they can’t prevent and protect against everything. mPERS devices are another great addition to HVAC PPE that doesn’t take up space, is easy to use, and can even work on its own without a user doing anything. HVAC workers, and companies, should seriously consider and look into employing these devices as a standard across their practice. Instead of being stranded or calling out for help, a worker can receive connection to emergency services within seconds and in turn, prevent a bad situation from becoming worse by just the push of a button.
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