An Automatic System to Monitor the Physical Distance and Face Mask Wearing of Construction Workers in COVID-19 Pandemic

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The COVID-19 pandemic has caused many shutdowns in different industries around the world. Sectors such as infrastructure construction and maintenance projects have not been suspended due to their significant effect on people's routine life. In such projects, workers work close together that makes a high risk of infection. The World Health Organization recommends wearing a face mask and practicing physical distancing to mitigate the virus's spread. This paper developed a computer vision system to automatically detect the violation of face mask wearing and physical distancing among construction workers to assure their safety on infrastructure projects during the pandemic. For the face mask detection, the paper collected and annotated 1,000 images, including different types of face mask wearing, and added them to a pre-existing face mask dataset to develop a dataset of 1,853 images. Then trained and tested multiple Tensorflow state-of-the-art object detection models on the face mask dataset and chose the Faster R-CNN Inception ResNet V2 network that yielded the accuracy of 99.8%. For physical distance detection, the paper employed the Faster R-CNN Inception V2 to detect people. A transformation matrix was used to eliminate the camera angle's effect on the object distances on the image. The Euclidian distance used the pixels of the transformed image to compute the actual distance between people. A threshold of six feet was considered to capture physical distance violation. The paper also used transfer learning for training the model. The final model was applied on four videos of road maintenance projects in Houston, TX, that effectively detected the face mask and physical distance. We recommend that construction owners use the proposed system to enhance construction workers' safety in the pandemic situation.