RFID Facilitates Safe Return to Work Post-COVID-19

Technology company Engineering has developed a sensor that warns of unsafe distances between workers in order to prevent coronavirus contagion.
Published: May 29, 2020

A new bracelet equipped with a radio frequency identification (RFID) sensor emits audible and luminous warnings via LED if two people approach each other within the distance considered safe, in order to prevent contagion of the COVID-19 coronavirus. Engineering’s Smart Proximity device is designed to enable employees’ safe return to work after quarantine. Filippo Di Cesare, Engineering’s CEO for Brazil and Argentina, calls this an effective safety measure for the workplace during the pandemic.

Based on a sensor that can be implanted in a bracelet or other mechanism, the solution is able to detect one or more sensors within its vicinity. If two devices come too close to each other, they will alert users, autonomously and in real time, about the violation of safe distance, which is configured according to variable parameters. The data collected by the device is then sent via a Wi-Fi or Bluetooth network to an internal storage system, which can be accessed so users can analyze all events recorded by the sensors.

In the event that an employee tests positive for COVID-19, a company can immediately obtain a list of all devices that crossed the path of the sensor used by the affected employee, as well as the interaction time. With this information, the firm has a decision-making tool to place employees in security isolation. “It is a way to carry out selective quarantine to ensure the safety of employees, allowing the company’s production not to be interrupted,” Di Cesare says, adding that the collected data can be exchanged with public monitoring systems.

In accordance with Brazil’s General Data Protection Law (LGPD), the platform retains no confidential information. This means the system records only the sensor’s unique identifiers and the temporal relationships between them, without any association with the user data. The unique identifiers in the smart sensor are encrypted and the information travels over a secure channel. In addition, a user must consent to the distribution of sensor information to systems external to the platform.

“Until there is a cure,” Di Cesare explains, “we will have to live with the virus for a while, so it is necessary to combine the resumption of economic activities with the health needs of people in the workplace. Through this device, we materialized this new way to return to activities safely, allowing the economy to recover gradually.” The Smart Proximity system is configurable to other work-safety scenarios as well. Moreover, it can be configured for industrial plants or risky activities, thereby preventing employees from being exposed to dangerous environments.

Based on the same technology, the compay’s Safety Virtual Fence platform creates restricted access areas according to criteria indicated by a customer, in case an employee approaches a risk area exceeding the safe distance from a given location—for instance, in areas containing mobile equipment, autonomous robots, forklift traffic, suspended loads, etc. In steel mills, when oven pans are unloaded, there is a high risk of death. What’s more, the Men Down application monitors behavior and creates relational graphics with a focus on understanding whether any employee has suffered a problem, based on a sudden, drastic change in behavior.