The pandemic has had a devastating impact on almost every industry, including construction. While not completely halting all projects, it has slowed them down, considerably, leading to expensive disruptions and delays. Projects managers scrambled to keep workers safe without resorting to total closure. Without effective risk management strategies in place, the task became even more challenging.
Getting field data to the business office was already an issue before the pandemic. It’s worse now. With many construction business offices shifted to employees’ homes, field supervisors that normally dropped off timesheets, daily progress, and safety reports, can no longer do so as they do not have a central business office to deliver the field data to. This is why the time has come to sharpen the digital tools in the construction sector’s tech toolbox.
Construction firms that want to survive and thrive beyond COVID-19 need to have more rigorous methods for collecting and sharing field data, and they need to implement agile cloud-based resource management solutions that allow contractors and site workers to react and resolve safety issues faster with real-time data.
Most of the USA classified the construction sector as an essential industry during the pandemic. However, COVID-19 forced contractors to review the way employees, subcontractors, and visitors enter a construction site.
The pandemic ruthlessly exposed the deficiencies of paper-based systems. Even with data entered on a spreadsheet, contact tracing proved a huge challenge. It was a near-impossible task to even tell if an infected worker was still on a job site. As one of the few industries that remained open for business, construction was uniquely positioned to implement technological solutions for workplace forms, communication, management, and health verification.
For health and safety teams, safety documentation not only ensures regulatory compliance but also keeps workers safe and keeps projects on schedule. Villa Roofing, one of the largest roofing companies in the Lower Mainland, faced huge challenges managing this process. With 30 crews managing 50-80 projects at any given time—and training documentation, weekly inspections, and daily safety assessments required from each worker—the company had the Herculean task of collecting, filing, and analyzing more than 300 documents per day!
Compounding the challenge was the custom nature of Villa Roofing’s forms – each contractor, sub-contractor, and prime contractor needed a specific document. Additionally, each individual’s training certificate expired at different times. In order to effectively manage their workforce and move into the digital age, the firm urgently needed a significant documentation upgrade to bring Villa’s safety systems into the twenty-first century.
Health and Safety Manager Sam Livingstone started submitting each custom form to Salus and we developed a digital equivalent. Systems were also put in place to ensure any expired training certificates could be updated and approved… all within the Salus app. With a Salus solution in place, Villa’s digital forms are now shared and collaborated on in real-time. With automatic filters and search capabilities, the company is ready for safety audits and customer requests with a push of a button. For Villa, it was a case of Voilà!
Safety compliance is a major business focus area. Here, Salus does the heavy lifting for you by ensuring you’re on track by monitoring daily activities in real-time. If workers fall behind on forms, you’ll have clear visibility into who to work with to ensure completed submissions. A paper-based corrective action system leaves you vulnerable with a narrow trail for due diligence. Salus’ solutions enable you to create a single source of truth for all disciplinary actions assigned and easily track follow-ups for quick response and proof of completion to close the loop.
The pandemic accelerated digitization in most industries making software more critical than ever. Through the implementation of real-time resource management solutions such as cloud-based labor tracking, field reporting, project tracking, and system integration, managers can safely and seamlessly perform key business functions in a safe environment.
Cloud-based solutions are convenient as critical information can easily be accessed through smartphones and other devices, no matter where the user is located. It enables managers to quickly address issues and track corrective actions using real-time data, reporting, and notifications.
That said, there is a range of other new technologies that are making construction sites much safer. Wearable technology, for example, has exploded in popularity. Smart hard hats can be used to measure fatigue using EEG sensors. E-watches are being used as risk management strategies to monitor the whereabouts of different employees on a site, especially when a dangerous activity such as demolition is underway. Contractors are also increasingly using drones to manage dangerous jobs on site.
Software such as Salus helps construction managers monitor all safety aspects of a project site on one platform. Such programs deliver multiple features in a single place, including communication, general management, asset management, and a subcontractor portal.
With nearly 6.5 million people working at approximately 252,000 construction sites across the US on any given day, the need for firms to move from traditional paper-based safety programs and embrace a digital approach is becoming urgent and more pronounced.
The integration of digital technology into all areas of a business creates a culture that promotes innovation and change, delivering value across the operational chain. It also calls for a mind shift, requiring companies 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 for the construction sector; 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 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. With everyone empowered to input data and access it in real-time, managers can allocate tasks more efficiently and work with greater flexibility.
As a construction employer, you’re required to provide your workers with the necessary education and training on basic health standards. The format and language should be accessible to every employee. Sign language should be incorporated to reach hearing-disabled staff. In addition, the usual construction signage should be updated to reflect the current COVID-19 threat. Aside from training, you should acquire the necessary gear to protect workers and visitors. All sites should have sufficient health and safety resources, including masks, thermometers, and sanitizing material.
Contractors should undertake risk analysis by following OSHA’s construction-specific and general guidelines. According to CDC, workers should wear masks in all indoor settings as they are high-transmission zones. Both vaccinated, and unvaccinated people should observe all the social distancing guides. In addition, it’s essential to get tested as soon as one discovers they have contact with a person who later turned out positive. Employees that test positive should isolate themselves for 14 days regardless of their vaccination status.
Worker safety is now mainstream and a feature of almost every industry. Construction firms need to keep up to maintain a competitive edge. Construction safety management needs a robust digital software solution that is designed to put construction safety above all else in the form of a non-modular, safety-focused all-in-one suite.
Digitalization is neither new nor hard to achieve. Digitization enables the creation of 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 Salus’ construction-specific App, employees can access safety manuals and training videos at any time if they are ever unsure or need clarity.
Embrace the new reality and leverage digital tools to enhance the safety of your construction site by scheduling a Salus demo now and discover why digital transformation is a super-smart, cost-cutting, life-saving investment.