Before we start, let’s be clear - Health and safety technologies should not be a replacement for people. With that being said, health and safety technology does play a part in two key areas:
1: Support in your day to day role. Health and safety technology can certainly help put safeguards in place and can even act as an early warning system.
2: Reduce your reliance on outdated ways of working. Think manual inductions, printing site notices and rifling through paper files in an emergency. Digitalising and automating these processes can help streamline these otherwise time consuming tasks.
Construction companies have a responsibility to look after their workforce. But is the construction sector really taking full advantage of the technologies available on the market?
More and more sectors and companies are taking advantage of the digital era to improve health and safety practises. The question a lot of health and safety professionals are asking is how can we keep up with the ever-evolving and improving technologies available?
In this blog, we take a look at five crucial construction health and safety technology trends that are impacting the industry in 2022.
Why does this matter?
The safety of your workforce is paramount. It cannot be compromised. That’s why construction companies are always looking at better ways to protect their site operatives. The most recent Health and Safety executive report shows that in 2021 there were 39 fatal injuries, but just as alarming is the 61,000 non-fatal injuries happening every year.
Take a look at the below health and safety technology trends, and how they are paving the way to a safer construction site.
Hardhats with proximity sensors, location tracking and smart protection, wristwatches designed for the risk management of hand-arm vibrations, chest devices that use bio-sensing technology to measure core body temperature, heart rate and exertion and real-time tracking devices for lone workers are some of the wearables that are already commercially available.
These devices use highly sophisticated electronic components to collect data, track activities and provide customised experiences. Moreover, they are designed to help workers perform their jobs more safely, thereby reducing work-related accidents.
Wearable devices are deeply entrenched in consumer behaviour, but it’s in infancy in an industrial context. There are two main reasons for this: firstly, cost and secondly, concerns around the data that can be collected and stored by wearable tech; some workers might consider it an infringement of privacy, and when it comes to using tech to monitor job function, it can create a sense of being ‘micro-managed’.
However, if these obstacles can be overcome, there is huge potential for wearables for occupational safety monitoring. In fact, the global wearables market is projected to exceed US$ 2.78bn by 2024, expanding at a CAGR of 9.2%*, and the HSE is backing wearables through its Shared Research Programme, indicating that this is definitely one to watch.
2: Artificial Intelligence
Health and safety is one area where Artificial Intelligence (AI) is yet to make a big impact, but its time is coming. One particular area that is developing fast and is gaining traction is the monitoring of health and safety performance in the workplace.
Examples are systems that use computer vision technologies to monitor workers, feeding the data back to a central platform where it can be assessed. These systems can identify a range of health and safety concerns, such as incorrect use of PPE, dangerous machines causing risks to people, overheating equipment, and more.
These systems can provide data to managers to help them improve working practices in their organisations. However, the systems also offer real-time benefits as they can identify imminent safety risks. When they do, the system can send an immediate alert to the workers involved via, for example, a wearable device.
3: New HSE App for SMEs
The Health and Safety Executive has launched a new app targeted at small and medium-sized businesses. The aim of the app is to help businesses understand health and safety law and their responsibilities.
The features of the app include a Health and Safety Toolbox that provides a general overview of risks, the law, and business responsibilities. There are also risk management guides and information on managing work-related stress.
4: Apps, Apps and More Apps
These days there seems to be an app for it all. Construction is one place that is also seeing this trend. More recently we are now seeing a push to get our workforce much more mobile. Some of the problems that mobile apps are helping to solve include Site sign in and sign out and remote inductions. Gone are the days you would fill in the visitor book when you first arrive on site.
Now with just a click on your app your in. But even better you now have complete visibility of who is on site and perhaps more usefully the ability to track, report and measure site safety much more acutely against working hours.
5: Workforce Inductions
How many times have you walked on site to only be asked the dreaded question “You need an induction”. We all understand the importance of a site induction but the way each induction is delivered really depends on the Site Manager, the tools they have available to them and the consistency in the way they are delivered.
Digital induction tools not only deliver a constant induction each and every time, they also have a multitude of other benefits too such as:
- Covid-19 tracing: No more sitting in a cramped site cabin. With remote induction technology your workforce can complete them at home.
- Qualification Checks: Digital induction solutions can now let you upload skills cards like the CSCS Card. This on its own helps to reduce the time spent completing the induction and also helps the site teams save time as they don’t need to complete card checks on site.
All these technologies have one thing in common – they support the workforce. Key to these technologies is that they offer support and don’t replace people. Ultimately, site safety relies on the site management teams to take responsibility. So when it comes to site management any tools that help to improve productivity whilst reducing risk must be looked at closely.
It’s clear the future of construction is digital. Technology will allow for a smarter and safer construction industry, revolutionising workflow and output.
One.site is a Workforce Management App that can help you to turn slow into fast. From remote inductions and site reporting through to covid tracking, facial recognition and digital signage, you can operate at maximum efficiency and ensure your site is safe. Think of it as your digital toolbox to make your job easier.