Four Tech Developments Keeping Construction Workers Safe
It’s well-known that construction is one of the world’s most dangerous industries, but recent developments in technology could potentially help drastically reduce the rates of worker injury and death. These technologies have gradually been introduced at construction sites, but the progress has been slow. But as the people working in the industry learn to better understand these developments and how to use them, we expect that technology will help drastically improve construction worker safety in the coming years.
Here are four safety technologies that are currently being used at construction sites in the United States:
Safety Software and Apps for Mobile Devices
Keeping construction sites safe is hard work. It involves making sure the site is in compliance with all safety regulations, tracking accidents, and developing new ways to reduce the rates of accidents and injuries. This can be especially difficult for large projects involving multiple teams of employees spread out over multiple work locations. Fortunately, modern software makes it much easier to handle all safety aspects of project management.
At the end of 2017, the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) instituted new electronic reporting requirements for all covered establishments with at least 250 employees. These establishments will be required to electronically submit OSHA 300 and 301 forms each year. Meeting these requirements will be much easier for builders who have already converted to an electronic system for their operations.
Some ways apps and software can be used to improve construction site safety include:
- Allowing workers to quickly report accidents and near misses
- Easily perform hazard IDs
- Schedule corrective actions right from the work site
- Document conditions with mobile device cameras and voice-to-text features
Building Information Modeling (BIM)
BIM is a process that allows architects and engineers to use 3-D models to plan and manage their building and infrastructure projects. This can help protect construction workers by making sure there are no unnecessary hazards before and during the actual construction of the project.
According to a study by Business Insurance magazine, 69 percent of contractors using BIM in 2017 reported that it had a positive effect on safety, compared to just 42 percent in 2012. This increase is likely due to more comfort using these technologies and the development of new and better tools designed for worker safety.
Wearable technology is steadily becoming more popular in the construction industry, and can be used both to keep workers safe and to help companies and projects run more efficiently. Smart clothing and equipment make it easy to instantly transmit data and report incidents. This has numerous benefits for worker safety, such as:
- Faster response time when an accident happens, which can help minimize injuries and save lives.
- Makes it easier to identify potential hazards on the work site.
- Smart vests have GPS abilities, vital monitoring, emergency buttons, and alert systems which make it easy to monitor worker safety.
- Smart helmets have features like emergency alerts, video recording, and fall impact alerts.
Drones have become extremely populars for recreational use, but they can be used for much more than filming impressive YouTube videos. These small and versatile aircraft are being used on construction sites to easily monitor the site by providing high-quality aerial footage. This makes site safety evaluations a breeze, as hazards and safety regulation violations can easily be identified and fixed before an accident happens.
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), developments in drone technology could potentially help reduce a variety of construction-related injury and death causes, such as:
- Exposure to toxic chemicals
- Electrical hazards
- Vehicle and equipment collisions
Like the other technologies on this list, it will take time before drone technology can be maximized for worker safety. When new technology is introduced, the individuals using it usually have an adjustment period before they’re able to use if most effectively. Additionally, there is the possibility that some technologies will create new and different safety problems. But as more sites begin integrating technology into their safety programs and more data is collected, the industry will gain a better understanding of how to best apply these new technologies and improve worker safety.