How to Enhance Jobsite Productivity With Health and Safety Technology
Three out of four employees who use wearable distance monitoring and contact tracing devices at work state they feel safer than those who do not. (iStock/lakshmiprasad S)
The pandemic has incredibly impacted the construction industry. Nearly one million jobs were lost in April last year. Nonresidential construction starts were down by almost a quarter in the first half of 2020. And the industry’s unemployment rate was still hovering above 7% as last year wrapped.
But there are some positives for the construction industry to build on in 2021. Some states’ classification of construction workers as “essential” has helped keep both public and private development projects moving. The introduction of vaccines, when they become widely available, should help protect individual workers. Continued safety and health guidance specific to construction sites from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) should also provide developers and employers actionable steps to keep workers safe.
For an industry that represents 13% of global GDP, it’s imperative for the health of economies worldwide that construction industry leaders keep their workers safe, limit service disruptions and improve project costs. Fortunately, there are plenty of new workplace health and safety technologies that can meet these needs, and some companies have already implemented them with success.
Pairing technology with a comprehensive safety plan using the latest guidance from the CDC and OSHA, construction companies can reduce outbreaks and improve productivity at jobsites. This begins with the ability to efficiently analyze and gather critical data insights related to health and safety.
“It’s imperative for the health of economies worldwide that construction industry leaders keep their workers safe, limit service disruptions and improve project costs.”
Using technology like dashboards, where managers access essential information on their employees’ health and movements, makes implementing and revising safety plans over time far less stressful. With dashboards, managers can better protect employees in real time by analyzing data and quickly issuing notifications to staff in the event of an outbreak. Here are three common construction issues and how a health and safety software solution can solve them.
Prevent Understaffing Through Advanced Health Checks
Being understaffed due to employee illness creates costly delays and negatively impacts projects. Managers can ensure they are fully staffed by performing health checks in advance of employee shifts, which improves their ability to keep illnesses from spreading across the worksite. By having employees complete a CDC questionnaire and self-report their temperature through their phone or mobile device, managers ensure workers aren’t a potential risk before setting foot on the site.
If a questionnaire response is concerning or a high temperature is reported, the worker could be asked to stay home and contact a doctor. The employee’s HR administrator is then alerted so they can begin proper protocol. By preparing in advance, HR personnel can improve their responses to health events that can potentially set projects back by causing health-related under-staffing issues.
Access Critical Occupancy Data
Three out of four employees who use wearable distance monitoring and contact tracing devices at work state they feel safer than those who do not. Wearable technology can track employees’ movements, record their distance from others, the duration of their interactions, and alert them if they are at increased risk. The data collected can also play a critical role in future planning of a project, improve adherence to employee capacity regulations, and adjust scheduling and break times.
Technology that analyzes employee movement takes the guesswork out of jobsite social distancing and meets construction site physical distancing guidance suggested by the CDC. Rather than using security cameras and spot checks to ensure workers are wearing masks and adhering to social distancing rules, motion-activated technology at the worksite can track construction crews, as well as scan for PPE and body temperatures. If a worker happens to test positive, managers can use the wearable devices to trace any exposures and enact an employee quarantine in less than 30 minutes, ensuring everyone who may be infected can properly isolate.
Reduce Transmission Among Workers
In addition to dashboards and wearable technology, employers need to protect workers once they arrive at a jobsite. This can be streamlined through automation technologies that limit human interaction. For example, a thermal temperature scanner linked to a QR code door entry system further reduces virus exposure risk. It reduces the costs associated with manually performing temperature and personal protective equipment checks each day. Companies can install onsite thermal temperature scanners to take employees’ temperatures, detect potential symptoms of COVID-19, and check for required PPE.
In addition to a digital workplace health and safety solution, organizations can promote workplace safety by limiting employee capacity at jobsites, installing physical barriers, creating new pathways, scheduling alternating shifts, and permitting frequent breaks. By utilizing technology that assists workers in understanding signs of infection and helps managers ensure guidelines are being followed, construction companies can reduce the spread of COVID-19 and continue to contribute to our country’s economic recovery.
RJ Frasca is the vice president of product and marketing for EBI Inc. He joined EBI in 2018 and brings over 20 years of marketing and product experience and has worked with numerous high-profile companies such as Yahoo, Microsoft, Time Warner and Verizon on various marketing campaigns.