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Development and field testing of a local positioning system using GPS and near-real-time monitors for exposure assessment in the outdoor environment.

Hornsby-Myers JL; Lee L; Flemmer M; Gali R; Soderholm S
Working Partnerships: Applying Research to Practice, NORA Symposium 2003, June 23-24, 2003, Arlington, Virginia. Washington, DC: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, 2003 Jun; :99
Workers in many outdoor occupations move about frequently during a typical day of work. Certain workers, such as agricultural and construction workers, are particularly mobile. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) designed and developed a prototype exposure monitoring system which combines outdoor geographical location with current off the shelf industrial hygiene monitors and outputs the information to a user friendly interface. By linking worker location throughout the workday to exposure levels from real-time monitors, Local Positioning System (LPS) units with software processing of data identify and document where to focus exposure analysis and control efforts. Post-processing of LPS data will enable researchers, regulatory inspectors, and industry safety and health personnel to map exposure intensity and location, reveal hot spots to identify sources, and provide exposure intensity distributions. Focused exposure control efforts, in turn, should allow a high return on investment, facilitating acceptance and implementation, and provide subsequent reductions in occupational injury and disease. This project used a second generation prototype version of a LPS that was recently designed and developed. The prototype weighs 2.5 pounds; the GPS is differentially corrected to an accuracy of two meters. This requires a separate stationary differential corrections transceiver which supports an unlimited number of LPS units for up to several miles depending on geography and obstructions. Modular software was developed to process downloaded data collected from the prototype LPS. The software allows the researcher to determine the time weighted average or peak exposure along with location and frequency of an exposure level. Field tests have been conducted at NIOSH's Lake Lynn Laboratory and on construction sites using the prototype LPS with a real-time dust monitor, sound level meter, temperature probe, and a personal four gas monitor. The results of the fields tests indicate the prototype LPS, sensors and software are valuable tools for characterizing exposures in outdoor work environments. A third generation prototype is being constructed which is smaller and lighter. The ultimate goal of the project is a technology transfer of the system to the general public so that safety professionals will be able to use the system to determine hot spots of outdoor work exposures and protect workers accordingly.
Outdoors; Agricultural-workers; Agriculture; Construction-workers; Exposure-methods; Monitoring-systems; Monitors
Publication Date
Document Type
Fiscal Year
NIOSH Division
Priority Area
Research Tools and Approaches: Exposure Assessment Methods
Source Name
Working Partnerships: Applying Research to Practice, NORA Symposium 2003, June 23-24, 2003, Arlington, Virginia
Page last reviewed: September 2, 2020
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division