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Kiwi tech helping keep workers safe in the Pacific

Peter Griffin, Editor. 28 April 2022, 1:35 pm

A location-based app developed by Gisborne-based start-up ThinkSafe is helping Pacific Island workers stay safe as they tackle biodiversity loss in the region.

ThinkSafe's mobile phone-based app has been picked up by a United Nations environmental programme operating across 20 pacific nations and aimed at removing invasive species that will only damage the environment further as the climate warms.

ThinkSafe's managing director Andrew Burns, says teams deployed as part of the work faced numerous hazards in the form of wild dogs and pigs, chemical burns, lacerations occurring during tree felling and bush clearing and the potential for drowning while river crossing or boating.

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The ThinkSafe app

"As part of the eradication process, workers put themselves at extreme risk of injury and in many cases the low probability of being evacuated from these remote locations in time significantly increases the chances an injury will be fatal," says Burns.

The ThinkSafe app, which is used in a number of industries but customised for the UN's needs with field-tested in Papua New Guinea, lets workers geolocate, log and communicate potential hazards. It means for instance, that workers who encounter an aggressive dog while clearing bush can log the incident so that their colleagues are alerted to its presence - and UN bosses can take action to remove it.

Invasive species represent a major problem across the Pacific islands, which have experienced a dramatic decline in biodiversity.

"33% of reef-forming corals and over 40% of amphibian species are under threat, with the average abundance of native species in most major land-based habitats decreasing by at least 20% since 1990," according to the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme.

ThinkSafe can be used offline and away from mobile coverage. Data collected via the app from the field is "aggregated and analysed using algorithms developed by the company to create incident monitoring and reporting models that help prevent injuries" says Burns.

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The ThinkSafe dashboard

A ThinkSafe membership for a 10 - 50+ person organisation costs $2,000 a year, plus $30 per additional user. The app allows features such as barcode and QR scanning and the logging of photos and incident reports. It can also be modified for specialist use with digital forms for timesheets, safety tours and hazardous substances registers.

Burns says the use of the app by Pacific workers will go hand in hand with health and safety training.

"It is designed to train workers in risk management processes as well as proactively identifying and mitigating hazards to help ensure their protection while performing this essential service," he says.

ThinkSafe is in use by over 5,000 people in 24 countries.


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