Safety Innovation

Constructing a Ladder to Success: Digital Transformation in Construction Safety

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Salus Safety
8 min read
August 3, 2021

With nearly 6.5 million people working at approximately 252,000 construction sites across the nation on any given day, the need for companies to move from traditional paper-based safety programs and embrace a digital approach is becoming urgent and more pronounced.

Digital transformation is the integration of digital technology into all areas of a business, creating a culture that promotes innovation and change and delivering value to your overall operation. It also demands a mind shift that requires organizations to continually challenge long-held conventions and assumptions and be open-minded about new ways of doing business.

Digitization is ushering in a new era of construction; yielding enhanced safety standards, optimized productivity levels, and streamlined communications across the industry. Mobile apps and safety management software are increasingly emerging as effective ways to eliminate tedious and error-prone paper processes to streamline reporting of incident information from anywhere in the field.

The Department of Labor says that there are 18 deaths for every 100,000 construction workers each year. Scaffold-related accidents lead to 60 deaths and more than 4500 injuries a year which is costing employers $90 million in lost workdays. Implementing digital platforms will enable construction companies to quickly use digital tools on their phone or tablet to report incidents without waiting for someone’s input about what happened at an accident site. This includes instructions and up-to-date forms which are easily accessible when they need it most while onsite.

There are many other benefits, such as one digitized system of record for all safety programs that allow companies to easily comply with regulations, as well as ensuring that post-incident reports are logged immediately so no details are lost or misfiled.

While the ‘what-ain’t-broke-don’t-fix’ mentality may offer short-term benefits, any hesitation to embrace new tech should be a major concern for construction company leaders. The answer to the question of whether or not construction companies need to adopt digitization is an unequivocal ‘YES,’ and to believe any differently risks putting your workers’ lives and your profits in grave danger.

Use Digital Tools to Improve Safety on the Construction Site

Hazards always loom overhead in the construction sector and workers are at constant risk of serious injury which can render them unable to care for themselves and their families, physically and financially.

The loss caused by an injury is not only felt by workers, but also by the company that employs them. Permanent and temporary injuries can seriously affect the progress of a job, leaving projects drawn out way longer than necessary and could lower staff morale. It can also cause workman’s compensation bills and insurance premiums to skyrocket.

When any company’s bottom line is affected, it almost always ripples down to every member of the team – from boots to suits. It instills unhealthy levels of anxiety and frustration. It is, therefore, imperative that every member of the team pulls their weight in creating a safer work environment for all – after all, one man’s error could cost another man’s life.

What digitization does, in this regard, is to effectively connect team members and draw on input at every level to find holistic solutions to safety problems. Accurate and timely information, backed up by multiple reports from different workers, and accessed in real-time, can make a huge impact on construction safety, and this is everything that smart constructions safety software provides.

When barriers such as poor or delayed communication and ineffective collaboration are eliminated through work-smart solutions, true transformation can occur within the company and outside of it.

The Salus communication platform harnesses email’s documentation ability and puts it into easy-to-navigate posts. You have the ability to share real-time incidents (tracked by job) with everyone on your network and stores them for future access. You no longer have to rummage through mountains of emails and text messages trying to find what was communicated.

Transforming Construction Safety Management with Digitization

Digitization works to empower team members and unify them. This kind of transformation cannot and should not be underestimated. A confident, informed, and united team makes all the difference in the world of construction safety.

However, in order to realize such an ideal, management needs to be forward-looking – leaders who see the bigger picture and who are committed to following the process through. Their tasks can be made easier by deploying smart safety software solutions that assist managers in the work they do and lightens their heavy load.

Cloud-based construction safety software and Apps are some of the digital tools in the progressive safety manager’s arsenal to bring out the best in their team to enhance worker safety and bring about more effective management of issues around site safety.

Sheila Sadler, the First Aid Coordinator at Viaduct Sheet Metal Ltd., points out that the safety landscape and culture at her company completely changed after adopting smart tech due to the pandemic. She adds that their company now has 3x the amount of safety forms being collected and that their chosen Salus safety software has provided them with an excellent way to incentivize workers and keep them engaged in Viaduct’s safety program.

“Now that we’re not having to store any paperwork or dig through stacks of documents to find something specific, it truly saves me a ton of time.

Existing Ways Digital Transformation is Advancing and Optimizing Construction

Increased Agility

The collaborative nature of digitization really harnesses the power of working as a team and lets everyone input info into a single system that provides a holistic view of their current project’s safety and status. This ability for everyone to input data and access it in real time allows managers to allocate tasks more efficiently and work with greater flexibility.

Identifying Hazards

Digital tools, such as cloud-based safety software or Apps, streamline communication and connection between workers and managers, enabling hazards to be addressed quicker and allowing onsite environments to become safer.

Timing is, of course, crucial in a construction workflow, and the sooner hazards are identified and addressed, the more accidents are averted and the quicker projects can progress, thus decreasing costs.

Apps that have been designed specifically with the construction industry’s workflow in mind, such as the Salus-designed App, are especially useful for individuals on the ground. Workers are able to easily access their company’s safety management software through their phones and can quickly take a snap of an accident and directly upload this to the team’s shared safety platform (all in the one App), instantly notifying their manager who can quickly determine how it needs to be addressed.

Responding to Emergencies

Cloud-based systems are extremely useful for storing tons of data, such as detailed employee profiles, where you can easily locate and view an employee’s emergency contact info, existing health issues, and any additional health-related information.

With a little configuring, and knowledge of online systems, you can also set your phone to ping whenever a life-threatening near-miss report comes in. The added functionality that digitization brings can help managers respond to emergencies quicker and potentially save lives.

Training

Digitization makes way for extensive online databases, where managers are able to easily find and drill in on information such as which workers have received what training, and who still needs training in a specific area, ensuring there are no information gaps that could potentially endanger the team. Using a construction-specific App, employees can access safety manuals and training videos at any time if they are ever unsure of anything.

Increasing Productivity

Better collaboration spawns increased productivity. Through construction management systems, workers can automatically track their time and managers can get a good idea of which tasks need to be speeded up. Additionally, with an individual worker being able to see how their work rate fares in comparison to others, they can be motivated to perform and become more productive. It also eliminates work duplication because of inaccurate or delayed information.

In addition, digital systems allow for sustainable growth. Construction companies that are disorganized and don’t have streamlined online systems are bound to see any expansion collapse in on itself when they are tied down by heavy paperwork loads and inefficient management. Digitization enables the construction workflow to run quicker, expand more rapidly, and yield better results.

Reducing Costs

Some contractors are wary about the costs involved in embarking on the digital migration journey. Not embracing tech now, however, could be far more costly down the line. Adopting tech could also yield significant savings as borne out by this example of a Texas-based concrete company that invested into new technologies with promising returns on investment for them so far – A mobile workforce platform helped the company save $154,000 by eliminating paper forms for material requests while advanced real-time GPS/face recognition tools saved another $729k within just one year.

For this concrete company, this is a concrete example of the impact of embracing technology and digital transformation has had on their business, without which, it wouldn’t have seen these savings. A dynamic safety platform means enhanced safety measures, fewer days of work missed, less downtime, fewer insurance claims, lower premiums, and fewer workman’s compensation requests. Lower costs, of course, mean higher profits.

Paperless Safety Has Never Been This Easy

Digitization is not something that’s new or even something that’s hard to achieve. It’s also not something that’s ‘way out there.’ It’s now mainstream and in almost every business, and the construction safety sector, in particular, needs to move with the times to retain its competitive edge.

What construction safety management needs is a non-modular safety-focused digital software solution in the form of an all-in-one suite that is designed to put construction safety above all else. The Salus mobile App is exactly that.

We truly believe that going digital should not be a complicated journey, which is why, along with our cutting-edge solutions, every Salus customer is supported by a dedicated Customer Success Manager to walk you and your team through every step of the digitization process to ensure a smooth rollout.

If you’re ready to let go of the old and embrace the new and be empowered to have digital safety for your construction site at your fingertips, schedule a Salus demo now and discover why digital transformation is a super-smart, cost-cutting, life-saving investment.

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