Mobile LiDAR Safety: Birth of an SOP

By Maraliese Beveridge
Mobile LiDAR SOP

L to R: Bob Box, Roland Brown and Clay Wygant ready to start their scanning day safely!

Standard Operating Procedure (SOP). We all know what they are and many of us have to follow them as part of company policy. While many SOPs are written as a result of someone getting hurt on the job—other times they happen because of circumstance. Either way, developing them in advance is the proactive way to ensure standardization while promoting safety.

Clay Wygant, Manager of LiDAR Operations, has been responsible for initializing the Firm’s Mobile LiDAR service, deploying a RIEGL VMX-450 Mobile Mapper and growing the service. He’s been so successful that Maser Consulting’s Mobile LiDAR services have grown to include a second mapping unit, which means more teams on the job handling this very specialized equipment.

Recognizing the need for uniformity in his teams’ safety protocols, he developed an SOP (Mobile LiDAR Project Safety Plan) for the entire mobile scanning process. Focused on protecting the crew and a host of highly-sensitive and costly survey instrumentation, this protocol includes addressing every step of the process, from the deployment of the LiDAR equipment to the withdrawal and securing of equipment at the end of each scanning session.

Because this process is performed daily, it became apparent that procedures already in place should be looked at more closely. Wygant worked in concert with Lisa DeBenedetto (Health & Safety Manager), Roland Brown (Mobile LiDAR Field Lead) and Bob Box (Mobile LiDAR Field Technician) to standardize every segment of the process. This includes establishing a safety perimeter around the off-loading area, physically removing the high-level scan gear from inside the vehicle, staging it for usage, lifting and securing the LiDAR unit to the top of the vehicle for deployment. Once the scan has been completed, all gear (scanner, cameras, cables, antennas, tools, and fittings), is methodically re-packed into the vehicle. The focus of this process was to perform these tasks with no issues such as tripping and lifting hazards or damage to the apparatus. These mechanics were broken down individually to identify any hazards and then eliminate them. This process also helped confirm all inventory is intact, accounted for and secured at the end of each deployment.

Mobile LiDAR SOP

Establishing a safety perimeter around the off-loading area, physically removing the high-level scan gear from inside the vehicle, staging it for usage, lifting and securing the LiDAR unit to the top of the vehicle for deployment.

On the other side of this, you have the highway scanning.

“Once all gear is in place and ready to roll down the roadways, crew safety comes to the forefront,’” explained Wygant. “Even though a lot of crew time is spent inside the vehicle—they are still working in a traffic-based environment where they have to continually exit and re-enter the roadway in order to set up the scanning targets.”

Awareness of the job at hand, general surroundings and site conditions are imperative parts of the preplanning process. This includes reviewing the route to identify roadway conditions, safe spots for exiting, turning around and re-entry onto the route, and where the targets will be set up. Crews need to protect themselves at all times by being visible and following roadway safety protocol.

Once the SOP was written, it was submitted to the Health & Safety Manager for review. As a result of the audit, modifications were made to the scan vehicle that included increasing its visibility by the addition of reflective tape on the rear bumper, strobe lights on the rear and front of vehicle, and flashing arrow bars on top of the vehicle. On the interior, a swivel mount was installed on the console as a safer way to secure the computer, monitor and keyboard.

And the process doesn’t end here. The Mobile LiDAR Project Safety Plan SOP is currently being integrated into the training of all new hires joining the Mobile LiDAR team.

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4 Responses to “Mobile LiDAR Safety: Birth of an SOP”

September 25, 2018 at 4:23 pm, Suzanne Zitzman, GISP said:

SOP’s throughout the engineering and survey industry promote safety, efficiency and standardized deliverables for our clients. Nice article team!


September 27, 2018 at 1:12 pm, Maraliese Beveridge said:

Thanks Sue!


September 27, 2018 at 11:22 am, Glen LLoyd said:

Great job Clay, Roland and Bob! Thank you for showing your interest and concern, and for helping our employees work more safely.


September 27, 2018 at 1:13 pm, Maraliese Beveridge said:

Thanks for your support Glen!


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