We’re taking a look at the Health & Safety tech that’s starting to make waves in the construction industry. We all know that the construction industry isn’t the fastest adopter of new tech but we’ll explore the areas that have seen an increased uptake over the last year and that we expect to continue growing as well as a few exciting products that we’re starting to see emerge.
It’s important to note that health & safety technology is there to support workers, reduce accidents, and minimise administrative tasks, not to replace roles.
As we know all 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? And with so many new products on the market, how do you really know which one is best for you? We’re taking a look at the latest health and safety trends that are impacting the construction industry in 2023, and how they can help you.
The advancement of tech in wearables has had a huge impact on safety in the construction industry. The number of contractors using wearables on-site is estimated to have risen from 6% to 23% in the past 5 years and will no doubt keep growing. Now widely viewed as one of the key tools for improving safety in construction, one report suggested that it could improve workers' well-being by up to 83%.
Wearables such as hard hats with proximity sensors and location tracking have helped to reduce work-related accidents with the assistance of co-workers on site whilst other products such as wristwatches and chest monitors can measure body temperature, heart rate, and other vital signs to allow a safer lone-working environment.
Despite rising popularity, wearables are still somewhat in their infancy in an industrial context. The uptake has been delayed partly due to cost and questions around workers' privacy, with some voicing concerns about feeling micromanaged whilst wearing the equipment. However, there is still huge potential for wearables, with the global wearables market projected to exceed US$ 2.78bn by 2024.
2: Artificial Intelligence
Artificial Intelligence (AI) is definitely one to watch in 2023, whilst it is still gaining traction in the industry, there's no denying the impact it will make on health and safety.
AI systems can be used to monitor construction sites, feeding the data back into systems that can identify a myriad of concerns including; incorrect use of PPE, malfunctioning equipment, and many other hazards. Whether it's a minor risk or an imminent threat to safety, AI can detect it and alert the appropriate bodies immediately. In some cases it can even be used in tandem with wearables, sending alerts out to the gadget or another mobile device.
Speaking highly of the benefits that AI has on health and safety, Research Programme Lead in technology at the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health Dr Laura Bradshaw says "AI can detect when people do not follow safety protocols, and offers cost-effective learning opportunities in safety and health. It can be used for speech recognition and incident reporting. It can recognise still images, situations and objects. By using virtual reality, AI can be used for practice drills, which are normally expensive to run".
3: Digital Transformation
Digitisation is fast becoming one of the highest priorities for the construction industry, second only to sustainability with 76% of construction and engineering development professionals now claiming to prioritise digital transformation within their companies.
In terms of health and safety, digital transformation is imperative for any construction business. Going paperless ensures health and safety reports are accurate, up-to-date and easy to find. Providing a digital alternative decreases the chances of human error such as loss of information.
Online inductions and training also increase efficiency and safety by ensuring all new workers on site are fully trained and their qualifications are up to date.
4: ConTech (Construction Technology)
Construction Technology is a vast subject and as we see from this report alone there are many examples of where tech is being developed within the industry, from sensors to sustainability calculators, but possibly the most important thing to come from all ConTech is data.
Digitising the way we do things in the industry means that millions of data points are being captured across various day-to-day tasks and if used correctly this data can be a fantastic resource for forecasting, mitigating risk, and proving efficiencies and cost savings.
Understandably there is some resistance from workers to adopt some of the technology but as we have seen in our personal lives with the uptake of everything from smartwatches to black boxes in our cars, this will gradually become the norm and hopefully, construction sites will be safer and more efficient for it.
5: Mobile Apps for worksite access
With over 70% of us saying that we feel uneasy leaving home without our mobile phones, it’s no wonder that having workforce management apps to enable worksite access is fast becoming an expectation rather than a desire.
Having an app at our fingertips that enables site access, remote inductions, qualification uploads and more are making previously manual and time-consuming tasks much quicker and smoother. And again, the use of apps is providing a wealth of data to track, report and measure site safety much more acutely against working hours.
All these technologies have one thing in common – they support the workforce. 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. Technology will allow for a smarter and safer construction industry, revolutionising workflow and output.
For more information on how to digitise your health and safety features, be sure to reach out to us at One.site. Our digital toolbox includes remote inductions, site reporting, facial recognition, digital signage and more so that you can operate at maximum efficiency and ensure your site is safe.