Expo 2020 uses pioneering tech at project sites for workers’ safety

This is a first step towards creating a new roadmap to help future major construction projects

  
Labourers work on a construction site in Dubai. Image for illustrative purposes.

Labourers work on a construction site in Dubai. Image for illustrative purposes.

REUTERS/Steve Crisp
Expo 2020 Dubai authorities have embarked on a pioneering Worker Wellness Programme, a massive project to measure workers’ health and well-being using the latest wearable wellness technology.
 
This is a first step towards creating a new roadmap to help future major construction projects and mega-events lift their safety standards.
 
The technology used in the programme was developed by Expo 2020 in collaboration with American fitness tech company Whoop.
 
The wellness wearable ‘Whoop Straps’, regularly used by elite athletes around the world, have been adapted to the needs of construction workers – with a bespoke charging/syncing system devised to collect data daily during their lunch breaks, and printed reports provided to all participants in multiple languages.
 
The programme forms part of Expo 2020’s wider approach to worker welfare and health and safety, designed to set new benchmarks for major construction projects and mega-events in the region and beyond, and leave a positive legacy long after Expo 2020 closes its doors on March 31, 2022.
 
Rashid Mohammed, Deputy Chief Operations Officer, Expo 2020, said: "Given the number of workers on site, this programme is unique – we haven’t come across any other project that tracks human physiology at this scale. The data gathered will form part of the legacy that Expo 2020 leaves the world, taking us one step closer to predictive models that can save lives."
 
The Whoop devices collected data measurements split into three categories: effort, sleep and recovery.
Factors such as heart rate variability, resting heart rate, and sleep autodetection were collated, with custom reports then built to show workers their data in a weekly summary. During the course of the programme, 153,785 worker progress reports were issued to participants.
 
According to Whoop, the Phase One of the programme ran for 30 months starting from October 2017, using its wearable wrist-strap wellness devices for round-the-clock measuring of construction workers’ well-being on the Expo 2020 site.
A total of 5,540 workers participated on a voluntary basis, with the project focusing on preventative health through monitoring and reporting, health treatment and health research.
In tandem, medical experts from Expo 2020’s on-site Emergency Centre carried out 1,467 preventative screenings for workers whose reports highlighted any potential underlying condition, with appropriate treatment given to those found to have a health issue, said a top official.
 
"Construction is one of the biggest sectors in the world, yet from a health monitoring standpoint these sites are being developed in the same way as 200 years ago," remarked Will Ahmed, Founder and CEO of Whoop.
"By using Whoop technology, we can understand what it will take to prevent injuries and to make a workforce healthier. All of this will lead to a better and safer working environment for construction workers from around the world," he added.
 
More than 13 terabytes of data have been collected via the wellness wearable devices, and this huge amount of information is forming the basis for research by internationally recognised academics from the UAE’s University of Sharjah.
 
The research focuses on cardiovascular health and sleep disorders, with the overarching aim to inform the future of worker wellness and ensure the well-being of construction workforces at future major construction sites and mega-events.
 
Toufik Refki, Director, Worker Wellness Programme, Expo 2020 Dubai, said: "Our construction workers are the lifeblood of Expo 2020, and their safety and welfare are overriding priorities for us."
 
"Through this programme, we are able to shed more light on the health habits, routines and needs of construction workers and help create a safer workplace for them," he added.
 
Pintu Ramlal, a mason at Expo 2020 Dubai and a volunteer in phase one of the project, said: "Ever since I started using the Whoop Strap, I noticed a lot of benefits. I check my reports every week and I often speak to the health advisors to help me action the reports’ recommendations and improve my health."
 
"I have encouraged my friends to join and explained the benefits of the programme to them. I feel good about the support I am given. I am honoured to be among many co-workers who use it and I am proud to participate in this project," he added.
 
The academic findings of the Worker Wellness Programme’s first phase are due to be released later this year.
 
A second phase will begin 2021, using wellness wearable technology to monitor the health and well-being of workers during the six months of Expo 2020, which runs from October 1, 2021 to March 31, 2022.-TradeArabia News Service

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