Ontario Construction News staff writer
Construction workers need a COVID Alert app that can be worn on a bracelet or carried in a wallet, says the Laborers’ International Union of North America (LiUNA).
The union is urging the provincial and federal government to expand the tracking app COVID Alert that was released for smartphones last week.
“Cellphones have been basically outlawed in the construction industry,” said Joseph Mancinelli, LiUNA international vice-president. Devices are not allowed due to safety concerns.
The answer, according to a press release, is TraceSCAN Wearables, Facedrive Health’s COVID-19 contact tracing wearable solution. LiUNA and TraceSCAN are co-ordinating a pilot project for the new system this month.
“As businesses begin to reopen and people return to work, TraceSCAN Wearables presents a viable alternative to other contact tracing applications to enhance our COVID-19 containment efforts in the workplace. As an ESG-focused “people-and-planet-first,” the press release states.
A pilot project will take place at a work site in Hamilton where every employee is assigned a dedicated wearable device for COVID-19 contact tracing.
TraceSCAN has developed a custom deployment process to ensure contact tracing is possible completely independent of phone use. As part of the pilot setup, there is a designated station for employees to upload contact history through Bluetooth at the end of each workday. Facedrive Health will provide support in deploying the contact tracing solution, training staff and closely monitoring to ensure a successful adoption.
“The safety and well-being of LiUNA members remains our highest priority. We are pleased to have TraceSCAN wearables available to the membership of LiUNA working together to ensure heightened protection at the workplace amid COVID-19,” Mancinelli said.
“We will continue to ensure that the health and safety of all members remains at the centre of all decision making, including the pilot of this innovative safety measure, as we continue building stronger communities across Canada.”
Facedrive officials say the partnership with LiUNA will help find ways to deploy the technology nationally and internationally as businesses reopen. “TraceSCAN Wearables presents a viable alternative to other contact tracing applications to enhance our COVID-19 containment efforts in the workplace,” said Chairman and CEO Sayan Navaratnam. “We are committed to having a meaningful positive impact on the lives and the health of our community.”
Without the wearable app, Mancinelli warns that construction workers will be omitted from the national COVID Alert app.
The government launched the smartphone app last week, urging everyone to download it to their phones. Using COVID Alert is voluntary. The app is designed to warn users if they have been within six feet of someone who has tested positive for COVID-19.
Without a wearable app that can determine who construction workers have been in close contact with, Mancinelli says sites may be shut down as soon as one case is reported.
COVID Alert is a version of COVID Shield, an independent project by a team of developers affiliated with Ottawa-based e-commerce company Shopify. It relies on an interface created jointly by Apple and Google that has been adopted by several other countries, including Britain.