C+S September 2022 Vol. 8 Issue 9 (web)

Technology can help make the jobsite safer

According to OSHA, companies can expect upwards of $6 in savings for every $1 they invest into high-quality safety programs. These cost savings result from fewer illnesses, injuries, and fatalities, ultimately improving jobsite productivity. How do companies view safety? Companies often opt to address — and ultimately pay for — problems as they arise. Instead, they should invest in strategies to prevent them — and reduce costs in the process. Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, companies re-energized their focus on workplace safety. One study found that construction companies spend an average of 3.6 percent of their budgets on workers’ compensation, while a lesser amount (2.6 percent on average) goes toward safety training. A Dodge Data & Analytics survey revealed that nearly 80 percent of construction companies’ effective safety programs lead to an expec- tation for better insurance premiums and terms. That increases to 90 percent when looking at top-tier contractors. While many contractors acknowledge the need for further safety pro- tocols, according to a National Safety Council study , nearly six in 10 (58 percent) construction workers say project safety takes a back seat to productivity. One easy way to achieve a focus on safety is holding regular “toolbox talks.” Supervisors should jump at the chance to remind their teams about the potential risks on the jobsite and share prevention strategies. Technology offers endless safety benefits Beyond protecting workers, a safety program can also result in better insurance terms. A workplace culture prioritizing safety helps lower a company’s expe- rience modification (MOD) rating, resulting in lower insurance premi- ums. In addition to that immediate benefit, lower insurance premiums often help lower companies’ bids and are often the tiebreaker when deciding on a winning bid. More than any other option, the widespread deployment of technology across the jobsite provides excellent safety opportunities, whether GIS navigation technologies, wearables utilizing IoT, utility detection, or advances in machine control. Safeguarding workers in a highly dynamic jobsite is nothing new. Personal alert systems include collision avoidance protection, creating avoidance zones and developing “as built” scans of projects to ensure they are built as envisioned and reduce the likelihood of mishaps re- sulting from construction mistakes. Companies can go a step further and automate data collection on the jobsite. Just consider collecting information about near-misses on the jobsite.

By Troy Dahlin

Increasing the use of technology on the jobsite can help turn what consistently ranks among the top industries for injuries and fatalities into one of the safest. Jobsite safety is the centerpiece of any project, touching every aspect of the process from site preparation to construction to inspection. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) found that roughly one in five worker fatalities in private industry in 2019 happened in the construction industry. The number is particularly startling considering that construction represents a mere 8 percent of workers in the United States. While occupational fatalities dropped from about 38 per day in 1970 to 15 in 2019, the construction industry hasn’t experienced the same trend. The Center for Construction Research and Training found that construction recorded more than 1,100 fatal injuries in 2019, roughly three daily fatalities. Several factors make the average jobsite dangerous, including poor visibility, continually changing conditions and the use of large equipment in often tight locations. A constant pressure to meet deadlines and budgets adds to the stress and can make the jobsite even more dangerous. Regardless, it’s well past time for the industry to address and seek to reverse this trend. Worker safety must be central to the jobsite Reducing worker injuries took on new importance following the $1.2 trillion Bipartisan Infrastructure Law signed in 2021. Safety is a wise investment that pays dividends, and a contractor’s safety record often plays a role in deciding who wins a contract. Most estimates peg the average cost of a construction-related injury at roughly $27,000 per injury. Centers for Disease Control and Pre- vention (CDC) data reveals that an occupational fatality costs roughly $990,000, including medical expenses, worker’s compensation, and potential litigation. Costs extend beyond an injury or fatality. Mishaps often lead to disruptions, if not a total work stoppage, increased insurance premi- ums, potential attorney fees and higher employee recruitment and training costs. However, companies can make a modest investment on the front end and potentially lower their costs.



September 2022

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