Safety is a top priority in managing construction sites. This goes for both humans and equipment since the project’s success heavily relies on these two resources’ functionality. Unfortunately, the construction field still runs using inefficient, time-consuming, and risky manual procedures, which inevitably cause accidents and errors. However, with the rise of digital technology for the construction, processes have been revolutionized and the site has been safer than ever.
Accidents and other health risks have always been a major concern in a high-risk work zone like construction sites. In fact, the industry has been one of the top contributors to worker injuries and fatalities, as noted by OSHA. These accidents take a toll on construction companies as they lose many things from a worker to time, budget, and sometimes, costly tools or equipment.
That said, builders have been pushing for improved and safer construction sites. And from previous years, we’ve seen effective strategies that lessened risks at work sites.
Apart from revising safety regulations in the construction industry, technologies contribute to making worksites safer. IoT, Realities, wearable, mobile, localization – this digitalization plays an essential role in raising construction safety standards. Construction crew scheduling software is replacing paper documentation; mobile technologies are eliminating the need for computer stations at the site, and it is quickly making inspections remote. While these technologies are originally designed to streamline project management for construction, it turns out that they are effective, safe construction solutions too.
Previously, we mentioned how paper processes are slowing down construction processes. However, there are more negative effects of putting everything on paper. As the project progresses, a new danger zone can be created. Suppose we still stick to the process of photographing the zone, writing the safety assessment on paper, and sending it to the construction project manager for approval before the area is installed with warning signs. In that case, someone may have already met an accident before the construction team becomes aware of the danger. There are more similar instances that may happen by using paper documentation.
Through digitalization, the flow of information from the site to the office becomes almost instant. And localization or the adaptation of software is just one type of digital technology that makes this possible in construction.
The Role of On-site Construction Project Manager in Safety
In the past, reducing the occurrence of serious accidents in construction sites only required the following elements:
- Right worker skills and training
- Right tools and equipment and complete operational instructions
- Right worker insurance, permits and identification
But these elements won’t be effective without proper on-site management. Hence, admin on-site was also needed.
Construction works were never unsupervised. Construction project managers and site supervisors needed to be on the lookout as the crew members work not just to ensure that they are doing things right but also to see that safety is observed. As you already know, an accident can cause problems for the whole construction team. Not only does it lead to costly claims and slow down the operation, but it can also cause the company to pay fines for not meeting safety standards. Consequently, the company’s reputation is tainted and the chance to win new projects become slimmer.
Furthermore, construction companies used to spend a lot of time reviewing worker safety status. It usually took them days to verify the reports’ validity and plan the right safety training they need. Making the site safer was indeed a very laborious process, yet the information’s accuracy wasn’t guaranteed. Admins were not a hundred percent sure that their safety programs were what’s needed by the crew members.
But today, digital tools have simplified the requirements and the processes while making construction safety more achievable.
Some of the features of these digital tools include:
- Access to the live status of on-site construction workers, including their activities, progress, and safety.
- Mobile applications make remote monitoring possible for construction project managers, safety officers, supervisors, and other critical people for managing construction. As a result, admins can ensure worker safety despite being absent at the site. They can answer essential queries regarding the right process in carrying out tasks as well as operating instructions of tools and equipment so workers won’t make mistakes and gain injuries.
- Artificial intelligence is used to verify the validity and content of documents sent across the cloud through construction crew scheduling software.
- Localization provides centralized documentation and data is always fresh, accurate, and straightforward.
- Centralized documentation also allows general contractors to connect with their subcontractors to discuss any danger present in their work area, making it safer for both the subcontracted crew members and the main project team.
That said, minimum on-site supervision is already possible and might be more efficient than maximum on-site management, thanks to new digital tools.
Improved On-site Safety Through Digitization with Mobile Devices
As we mentioned earlier, there are different kinds of digital tools present on the site these days. The most affordable digitalization today is mobile applications.
Software can now come in the form of mobile apps to make their use more convenient. This is especially helpful for construction workers whose hands are always full. They can’t bring laptops to their work areas and tablets can be a bit distracting to bring along anywhere. However, mobile phones are compact and light enough to carry even in the narrowest work area. Mobile apps then make it possible for construction workers to carry around digitized safety permits, checklists, plans, schedules, and other documents completed in real-time.
As a result, crew members who need to carry out hazardous tasks at large heights can work safer. Everything can be checked and reports can be completed through mobile phones, eliminating the need to bring along a stack of paper. Clatter is minimized and workers can work more at ease and efficiently. The newly gathered information can be shared digitally with co-workers and the management to detect conflicts in activities in real-time.
Improved Crisis Management Through Localization
Mobile devices combined with localization technology such as construction schedule software can play a vital role in managing risks. When incidents happen on-site, workers can immediately alarm the management through the app. Creating templates for incident reports that are similar to checklists can even make instant incident reports possible. Through this, the management can learn about the incident with great details and plan for more effective mitigation. Furthermore, the right aid can be deployed immediately to reduce further risks.
Smart wearable with GPS features is now also being used for immediate management of site crises. Victims of accidents can be located quickly and apply emergency procedures before the injuries become worse. In short, localization paired with smart devices can save many lives in such a dangerous work site.
But while the idea is perfect for raising safety standards in the field, the management should use tracking features only when their workers are on duty.
Improved Assets Safety with Predictive Analytics
Digitalization through analytics, artificial intelligence, and IOT can also make the use of tools and equipment safer. For instance, automatic equipment can be integrated with AI to collect a vast amount of data on safe usage. When it malfunctions even to the slightest or when incorrect settings are used, the right personnel can be alerted. The same can be true with malfunctioning tools. Following this, expensive assets can be saved from damage. Furthermore, the life of the operators of these malfunctioning assets can also be saved. that can subsequently be analyzed.
Other Benefits of Using Digital Technologies in Construction
Mobile devices, paired with digital technology, are helping construction companies make huge strides in preventing accidents and raising their safety standards. They may not eliminate risks on-site. Technology has a long way to go to perfection. Digitalization has proven to be a crucial element in the safety and success of construction projects. The advancement of software technology is making huge contributions to the safety of workers and other assets.
But apart from safety, digital technology is revolutionizing the construction industry in other ways too. Localization enhances administrative processes and streamlines core phases of the project like designing, planning, writing construction schedules, cost estimating, and project take off. Managing construction these days greatly relies on software too. Doing multiple projects simultaneously while maintaining quality can now be achieved with remote management. Finally, software adaptation makes construction processes cheaper, quicker, less prone to errors, and smarter. Therefore, profitability is increased and so is the reputation of the company.
Digitalization has taken the construction industry to a whole new level. But not all companies are taking advantage of the technology, making some of them left far behind with lesser business growth opportunities. One can only hope that the construction industry can transform to total digitalization for the sake of their staff’s safety and greater success of projects in the near future.