3 Ways Technology is Improving Construction Industry Safety
One in ten construction-site workers are injured every year, according to OSHA. What’s more, in 2017, twenty percent of private sector worker fatalities were in the construction industry.
While construction safety has vastly improved over the years, the industry still has work to do. Protecting employees should be every firm’s top priority, and new innovations are constantly emerging to make construction jobs safer.
Creating Technology to Keep Job Sites Safe
The speed of technology is impacting every aspect of our lives, and construction work is no exception. Innovative technological advancements are being developed with the goal of reducing worker injury and fatality and preventing accidents before they happen.
Some of the ideas being developed and tested may sound like science fiction today, but advancements like these are paving the way for a safer construction industry in the future. Here are three ways technology is being developed to make construction sites safer.
1. High-Tech Personal Protection Equipment
These days, many people are used to wearing technology such as FitBits and smart watches. However, wearable technology has so many applications beyond the consumer market.
One example of wearable technology being developed for industrial use is exoskeletons and power-assist suits. These suits allow workers to lift and carry heavy objects or use heavy tools for longer periods of time with less stress on the body. With powered suits, sensors and motors assist workers by reducing back strain, reducing fatigue, and preventing injury through proper posture.
Today, the price point on exosuits is too high to allow for widespread adoption in the construction industry. However, many manufacturing plants have already begun to implement lower-body exoskeletons to aid with prolonged standing and sitting. While it’s unlikely we’ll see power-assisted suits make an appearance on the construction site any time soon, the implications for improving future working conditions are exciting!
There are pieces of wearable technology that may be a little more attainable. Some companies are developing construction technology designed to eliminate injuries and fatalities caused by OSHA’s Focus Four Hazards: falls, struck-by, electrocution and caught-in/between. These innovations include a safety vest equipped with an airbag collar that inflates in case of a fall and monitors vital signs, as well as smart clothing that tracks posture and movements for signs of fatigue.
2. Employee Training Technology
Adequate training is one of the most important factors in keeping workers safe. With innovative technology, training for new construction workers can begin in the virtual world.
For years, soldiers, pilots, and surgeons have been trained with virtual reality simulators. In the same way, virtual reality could help train workers on everything from operating heavy machinery to performing welding work.
Technology is not only being developed to help train workers, but to track and verify their training as well. Every construction firm needs a simple, effective way to track all worker training and OSHA certifications on the job site. With cloud computing, ID card and QR code technology, managers can have immediate access to an employee’s training history. This allows firms to check every employee’s credentials before they do a job, encouraging a culture of safety. This type of training database also allows for early warning of upcoming certification renewals. The system can automatically send an alert when retraining needs to be scheduled.
3. Worksite Automation
Beyond enhancing individual employee safety, construction technology is also being developed to automate worksites.
One example is Caterpillar, which recently invested in a drone software developer to improve and automate job-site analytics and gain better insight into the performance of its heavy equipment in various conditions.
Other companies are also investing in developing technology to automate the construction site, from robotics to artificial intelligence. Thanks to new technologies, simple or rote tasks on and off the jobsite could soon be done almost completely by machine, saving time and money and freeing up workers to tackle more complex tasks.
The goal of any construction firm is to keep workers as safe as possible. With technology advancing faster than ever before, it won’t belong before worker safety is managed by machines, and the most dangerous tasks are automated. It’s not certain what the future of construction technology will be, but no matter what technologies are adopted, worker safety will remain the number one priority.