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May 07, 2020

COVID-19 Impact on Safety

coronasafetyMuch has been written over the years about the need to improve jobsite safety. Construction has consistently been mentioned in the same breath when the conversation shifts to industries that pose the biggest risks to worker safety. While companies often have the best interest of their field teams at heart, a truly safe jobsite goes well beyond having daily toolbox talks and awards for reaching key safety milestones.

While conversations about how technology can improve worker safety have focused on the deployment of devices like drones to map jobsites and spot potential hazards before they affect workers are important, construction professionals must also realize that data they can access right now can yield similar results. Data collection about worker performance, health, and accidents can inform how the jobsite is improved or altered to reduce risks.

Now, with COVID-19 having permanently changed how we look at workplace environments, companies should realize that data collection that enhances the health and well-being of workers has taken a front-row seat in terms of shaping an industry’s ability to go back to work. As many leaders discuss the need for contact tracing to help stop a possible resurgence in COVID-19 cases, it is timelier than ever to discuss how data can play a central role in enhancing worker safety.

Tracking Health and Well-being

Data has been driving decision-making on construction jobsites for years. However, the type of data collected has likely not been uniform in its approach. Some teams may prioritize information that impacts scheduling, while others keep a close eye on material inventories. Safety may be tracked as well, but many companies still rely on in-person toolbox talks, or daily reports that help to highlight jobsite concerns.

These practices are certainly proven strategies for keeping teams engaged and informed. But with many workers now based remotely and worker safety extending to whether a team member has been affected by COVID-19, putting data behind jobsite safety strategies is more important than ever.

One way to enable proactive data mining from the jobsite is to put workers in a position to document unsafe conditions, from a physical feature of the landscape that increases the chance of injury to fellow workers who are showing signs of fatigue or other conditions that threaten their ability to perform their job safely. Many of the coming technology innovations focus on wearable devices that monitor a worker’s biometric indicators, or drones that fly overhead to spot potential risks. But these innovations are still taking shape and likely years away from mass deployment.

In the meantime, construction software like Sage Field Operations that enables data collection and reporting from the field can provide workers a conduit for submitting information that can be stored and shared widely among the team for rapid response. Cloud-based service tools like Sage Paperless Construction make it possible for any worker with a mobile device to document and share information in real-time, such as marking up site photos to quickly document potentially hazardous conditions.

Of course, construction companies that have been monitoring jobsite performance for years are in an ideal position to pivot and begin tracking new indicators that reflect the coming normal as it relates to changes in worker productivity, materials deliveries, and possible restrictions related to the public health interest. If a company still needs to adapt to moving its reporting off of spreadsheets and into the digital realm to ensure it can transition quickly to mining new data sources, business intelligence software like Caliper Business Intelligence, built for the construction industry can help streamline the collection of data and make analysis lightning-fast compared to manual processes. 

Adapting to the New Normal

There is little doubt we will have a new normal in the coming months. Getting back to work will be a relief in and of itself, but in order to keep working, changes in how data is leveraged will have to be made to ensure the safety of workers and the general public is kept top of mind.

Construction software has evolved to not only make companies more productive and profitable, but also smarter – if they put their data to work. The technology is available for contractors that haven’t yet jumped in, and United Solution and its Sage-trained team of consultants can help your project teams adapt as quickly as possible.

To schedule a virtual software consultation, contact us today

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