Proximity Sensors - National Safety Council

Proximity Sensors

Sensors for proximity monitoring are devices that detect objects nearby, or within a set radius, without physical contact up to a nominal range or sensor vicinity. When an object – either person or equipment – enters into the determined range of the sensor, the associated method of detection will record the activity and send data back to the sensor, warning devices or platforms. Common technologies used for vehicle proximity sensing include infrared, radio frequencies, Bluetooth and specialized lasers.

Hazardous situations they mitigate:

Proximity sensors were the most commonly mentioned safety technology for mitigating hazardous situations in our research for the Safety Technology 2020 paper.

Why It’s Important: The use of proximity sensors can help mitigate struck-by and caught-between injuries, which are two of OSHA’s “Fatal Four” leading causes of workplace fatalities.

According to NIOSH, these types of injuries can occur for several reasons, including (NIOSH, 2014):

  • Operators not being able to see in a blind spot
  • Pedestrians not hearing alarms for moving vehicles due to workplace or malfunction
  • Spotters not seeing a moving truck or vehicle behind them
  • Operators assuming the area is safe and clear

Successful implementation of proximity sensors can provide a variety of benefits, including:

  • Protecting pedestrians from vehicle and equipment strikes
  • Protecting vehicles and equipment operators from accidental strikes on stationary equipment
  • Reducing the incidence of vehicle-on-vehicle accidents
  • Limiting worker accessibility for identified high-hazard areas 
  • Uses for physical distancing

A literature review on this technology will be coming soon from Work to Zero.


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