We’re going to go ahead and state the obvious: safety is and always should be the number one concern before starting any construction project. No matter the size of the job or company, and no matter what sort of deadlines or budgets must be met, safety is the priority. This topic should always at the top of everyone’s mind on the jobsite, and there is more we can do to provide a truly secure work zone for everyone on the project team.
We turned to the construction pros on our team to ask for some simple tech-based methods to promote worker safety and we’ve listed 4 of their suggestions below.
1) Start with a safety audit
Understanding what safety tools and processes currently work or don’t work best for the company is the first step toward empowering teams to manage every onsite issue that comes their way. Request open and honest communication about what everyone on your project team is finding useful and what is considered a waste of time. We’ve all been handed a tool that is supposed to make things ‘better’ or ‘easier,’ but actually made everything a whole lot more complicated and time consuming. If your team doesn’t agree with your processes for safety, they aren’t going to use them. Assess your company’s comfort with technology and learn where the need exists to ensure that everyone is equipped with the necessary tools and training to properly utilize resources effectively.
2) Allocate adequate hardware and software resources
The majority of workers are not in the main office but onsite — yet only 23% of jobsite workers reported using mobile devices to access project information. While creating a culture of safety has to do with more than just the technology that supports it, no one will value safety if management and others at the top don’t prove its importance by showing workers they are investing in it.
3) Record safety issues and milestones just as you would construction progress
Tracking construction progress is part of the job – do the same with safety. Monitor potential safety hazards, communicate with your team about them, and recognize when issues are handled well. Developing a safe work site should become a goal your team aims for, and a source of pride when safety issues are caught before they become a problem.
4) Make an effort to encourage realtime communication and collaboration
Not only does information and communication need to be accessible onsite, it needs to be kept current and documented on an ongoing basis. That was the focus of an award-winning safety-centric project in Washington State where a worker-to-worker observation program called for pairing two different trades to study the crew’s work. Under this system, the culture changed from one of mere compliance to one where the safest strategies could be chosen in realtime.
While there are inherent risks associated with our line of work, technology can be leveraged to improve safety on the jobsite. Having greater awareness of technology’s capabilities, whether in the field or office, might make the difference between a site that safe and secure and one that poses avoidable hazards.