Northumbrian Water's ‘light-bulb moment’ brings added safety for roadside workers

Northumbrian Water is using a revolutionary piece of life-saving technology to protect their front line workers, which could be adopted by other industries around the world.

By Tony Gillan
Tuesday, 23rd February 2021, 4:38 pm

In partnership with Ford the water company has developed a chevron panel which stays lit rather than just reflecting light, to protect roadside workers in the dark.

The innovative panel, which attaches to the rear of the vehicle, gives workers permanent visibility and is being trialled by Northumbrian Water in a world-first. The first five vehicles to use it will do so in the North East.

The technology uses electroluminescent panels, which work in a similar way to those that make cinema steps visible in the dark.

Northumbrian Water's roadside workers will have added protection from the new lighting innovation.

Usually, reflective chevrons on the backs of vehicles need light to be shone on them to be seen effectively. However, the new chevrons create a glowing light without the need for reflections.

This signage is permanently on, making vehicles much easier to spot than the ones with traditional chevron signage. This means work will be done more safely, as the light can be seen much more clearly on sharp bends or corners.

Kate Wilson, fleet services manager at Northumbrian Water Group said: “This is such a simple idea, as often the best innovations are.

“It shows a safety-first culture embedded within both companies to see this collaboration come to life, and I know that it will make our teams who work in dangerous roadside environments feel safer and much more visible to other motorists.

“This is an idea that stemmed from our drivers working in partnership with Ford’s product innovation team, and I am incredibly proud to see this come to life.

“It will improve safety not only in our sector, but in future fleets across the world.

“This has been an innovative and collaborative effort, and we are very thankful to our partners at Ford for allowing us to be the first company to trial this vital piece of equipment.”

Simon Robinson, chief program engineer of Ford of Europe, added: “We want to ensure that what is often essential work can be carried out as safely and effectively as possible.

“Creating panels that can be illuminated without having to rely on other sources of light was literally a ‘light bulb’ moment."

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