Virtual Safety Exclusion Zones: A Complete Guide

Virtual Safety Exclusion Zones: A Complete Guide

Construction, manufacturing and any other sites where workers are required to work alongside dangerous or moving machinery are extremely dangerous places. 

Accidents, both fatal and non-fatal, are a very real threat (just take a look at a few of these stats on work-related fatal injuries from HSE). 

And worker safety should be your top priority. 

Virtual safety exclusion zones help you prevent workplace accidents from happening by warning your workers when they’re getting too close to a piece of dangerous or moving machinery. 

Here’s everything you need to know about virtual safety exclusion zones, from what they are and how they work to how they benefit you and how to choose the right one for your business.


What Are Virtual Safety Exclusion Zones?

Traditionally, safety exclusion zones are put in place using physical barriers like fences, tapes and warning signs. 

But the problem with traditional exclusion zones is that they’re static.

You can’t easily move or adjust them when your site requirements change. And they’re completely ineffective at warning workers when they’re about to collide with a moving machine. 

Virtual safety exclusion zones, on the other hand, put digital barriers around dangerous or moving equipment, while tracking worker proximity to that barrier. 

That way, they can warn workers before they enter a dangerous zone and potentially come into contact with a piece of hazardous machinery. 

So, while traditional exclusion zones work by putting up physical barriers to segregate workers from dangerous areas, virtual safety exclusion zones anticipate danger in real-time and prompt workers to safely move away from it. 

Protect your people and safeguard your reputation with Zonr Plant Proximity Solution. Learn more here. 

Virtual exclusion zones

How do Virtual Safety Exclusion Zones Work?

Virtual safety exclusion zones are essentially digital fences.

They’re made up of a range of sensors and signals that, together, create an invisible virtual barrier around any object or area they’re attached to. 

The first sensor is a base unit that you place around the hazardous areas and machines that you want to keep people away from. The second is a tag that your workers must wear. 

Once you’ve configured the parameters of your exclusion zone, the technology then uses GPS, UWB, RFID or other digital tracking technologies to collect and analyse real-time data from your environment and monitor worker location in relation to exclusion zones. 

If the technology detects that a worker is getting too close to entering an exclusion zone, it’ll alert them with a vibration from their tag, an audio alert, a flashing light or something else. 

Digger showing Zonr radius

What Are the Benefits of Investing in Virtual Safety Exclusion Zones?

Here are six key benefits of investing in virtual safety exclusion zone technology. 

1. Highly flexible – While physical barriers are more static, you can move and reconfigure virtual safety exclusion zones in seconds to keep up with your changing requirements on site. 

2. Easy to install – You can have your virtual safety exclusion zone up and running in minutes (just look at how quick ours is to set up). 

3. Real-time alerts – Workers are alerted in real-time when they’re about to enter a dangerous zone, giving them time to act and stop the incursion from happening. 

4. Ability to analyse incursion trends – Analyse how often incursions happen, why they happen and what you can do to stop them. 

5. Increased safety – Take a preventative and proactive approach to safety by stopping accidents from happening in the first place.

6. Cost savings – Virtual safety exclusion zones have lower maintenance costs than physical barriers and can scale easily. 

But while virtual safety exclusion zones do come with plenty of benefits, there are a few drawbacks you should be aware of.  

 1. Less recognisable – Because virtual safety exclusion zones are purely digital, exclusion zones aren’t visually obvious to workers.
2. Worker training – Workers will likely need training on how to use the technology effectively. 
3. Reliance on technology – Workers could be put at risk of entering dangerous zones in the extremely unlikely event that your technology fails.
Because of these drawbacks, we’d recommend using virtual safety exclusion zones alongside the more traditional measures you’re already using.
That way, you have that added layer of security in the unlikely event that anything does go wrong. 
Zonr creates a dynamic virtual barrier around anything you attach it to.

Key Features of Virtual Safety Exclusion Zone Solutions

Here are five key features to look for when considering the right virtual safety exclusion zone technology for your business. 

1. Compatibility

First things first, you need technology that’s compatible with your site and its environment, the machinery, equipment and technologies you use and how your business operates. 

2. Ease of use

Look for technology that’s quick and easy to set up—and even easier to use and navigate. For example, you could look for a solution where workers can adjust zone parameters in minutes from their smartphones.

3. Customisability 

Look for a tool where you can customise and automate its features to suit your needs. For example, if you need different zone parameters for specific times of the day, look for a tool that can update and change parameters automatically. 

4. Real-time alerts

In what way does the solution notify workers when they’re about to enter an exclusion zone? Consider whether you want a solution that sends vibrations, audio alerts or other. 

5. Type of technology

Do you need a solution that uses ultra-wideband (UWB), radio frequency identification (RFID) and global positioning system (GPS)? For example, RFID is a good fit for smaller sites while UWB is better for larger sites. 

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