Safety in Hydrography – The Impact of Innovation and Technology

Allan Garland - Ventia Utility Services , 28 April, 2017

In the hydrographic industry our staff are both our most precious asset and greatest resource. Like with all other industries it is necessary to expose our staff to a variety of hazards, to collect the data our business and clients require. How we identify and control these hazards to reduce exposure risk is essential to ensuring the ongoing health and safety of our workers.

In the last decade new technologies and smart initiatives have introduced a wide variety of safety innovations to the hydrographic industry. These innovations impact the way we identify hazards, and how we determine the most appropriate control. Of a greater benefit, the technology and initiatives have opened the door to a suite of new innovative controls available to the industry today.

To identify hazards Ventia has introduced smart hazard identification tools based on energy sources integrated into a modified START card, and further enhanced through smart phone integration. In any incident, it is the uncontrolled state change of an energy source that is ultimately the source of the hazard. By identifying and controlling the energy sources, the tool provides workers with both a system that allows previously hidden hazards to be identified and effective controls implemented.

Through significant advances in technology and innovation over the last decade, a suite of new options to control hazards is today available to all Hydrographers. Many tools such as improvement in vehicle safety, the development of tracking and alert systems, and safer tools and equipment have been developed for use across multiple industries. These controls are often introduced through natural attrition of old equipment or introduced as new strategic safety measures. The introduction of the SPOT personal tracker to the business is a key example of a strategic new control measure that has had a dramatic impact on the way we monitor and support our staff in the field. Other systems have been developed specifically for the Hydrographic industry and include examples such as the variety of acoustic flow meters. The use of these units in place of traditional measuring gear dramatically reduces the hydrographer’s reliance on excessively heavy cableway equipment and eliminates the manual handling issues that hydrographers traditionally faced.

To complete the hazard identification and control process, Ventia operates a continuous improvement cycle. This cycle drives innovation and improvement, and is essential to ensure we can identify and introduce new measures to further protect our workers in the future. This proactive approach to safety also leads to a workforce with an exceptionally strong safety culture. This culture empowers our employees to continually act in a safe manner in the knowledge that their employer considers their safety above all else.