Technology in the Construction Industry
Technology has allowed us to increase productivity, improve collaboration, and tackle more complex projects. This article offers suggestions on technology solutions that can help you stay safe and meet your deadlines.
Can you imagine cutting boards, drilling holes, and digging trenches without power tools? Technological advancements have given you options to accomplish these tasks faster and safer. But did you know there are newer technology ideas that can help you just as much?
Technology already makes construction sites safer and workers more efficient. According to the 2019 JBKnowledge ConTech report, close to 93% of contractors use smartphones on the jobsite and 64% use tablets. And even though technology can help small construction companies compete with larger ones, many contractors don’t know how to find or use technology solutions to become competitive. Don’t worry—adding new tech tools doesn’t have to be complex. It can be as simple as finding one solution to automate a task or reduce paperwork. And since most people carry smart phones, it can be very easy to install the apps that will help you.
Here are just a few areas where you can add some tech tools and increase your efficiency and safety.
Do you use paper timecards or a handwritten ledger to track your employees’ work time? Or, do you find that you make projections for work time but it usually runs over the budget? Good news—there’s an app for that! We at Work Comp Associates do not endorse any specific company, but you can find quite a few apps on the market to help your company. A recent Google search for the term “construction time tracking app” listed adds for at a dozen apps, including some that offer GPS location tracking, work scheduling, and job costing.
You can also add payroll tracking to your accounting software to track productivity and financial data for each project. With an all-in-one package, you can track job costs, labor, and quantities for specific projects. Then, you can get detailed reports to help you manage your business efficiently.
Job safety apps
The following apps are free and can help you improve safety at your work or job locations:
OSHA Heat Safety App: OSHA’s heat-safety website includes a link for their app that calculates the heat index for your worksite, and based on the heat index, displays a risk level to outdoor workers. The app offers reminders for your specific risk level, including drinking enough fluids, scheduling rest breaks, planning for and knowing what to do in an emergency, adjusting work operations, gradually building up the workload for new hires, training on heat illness signs and symptoms, and co-worker monitoring for signs and symptoms of heat-related illness.
NIOSH Ladder Angle App: available in English and Spanish at www.cdc.gov/niosh/topics/falls, this app make it easier for workers using extension ladders to check the ladder angle by using visual and audio signals. It also has a multi-mode indicator and a graphic guide for ladder selection, inspection, positioning, accessorizing and safe use. Users can also get useful safety tips for using extension ladders.
NIOSH Pocket Guide for Chemical Hazards: this handy app can be used offline when no Internet or cell phone connection is available. It has entries for hundreds of chemicals and allows you to search chemicals by name or ID numbers to view properties, exposure limits, recommended PPE, and first aid. The app, along with a short video, is at https://www.cdc.gov/niosh/npg/mobilepocketguide.html.
NIOSH Sound Level Meter App: available at https://www.cdc.gov/niosh/topics/noise/app.html, this app lets workers use phones as a sound meter to measure environmental noise and get noise exposure levels, so they will know when to wear hearing PPE to prevent work-related hearing loss.
Miller Fall Clearance App: available in English, Spanish and French, this app makes it possible to calculate the fall clearance on any mobile device. It includes lanyard and SRL calculations, including swing fall and real-time fall-clearance results.
Red Cross First Aid App: the Red Cross’s emergency app page has links for several apps in English and Spanish. The First Aid app has simple step-by-step advice to help handle the most common emergencies.
Drones offer a bird’s-eye view of job sites that you can’t get from simple walkarounds. With drones, you can:
Conduct jobsite inspections and identify possible hazards
Monitor workers throughout the day to ensure everyone is working safely and wearing required PPE
Take photos as work progresses to create as-built models of jobsites
Hover over dangerous or hard-to-access locations to monitor workplace conditions
Record videos to give clients frequent updates the progress of building, renovations, or inspections without scheduling appointments or meetings at the jobsite
Smart Personal Protection Equipment - Wearables
Smart PPE items, often similar to FitBit, can connect to the Internet and other devices and improve safety management by alerting supervisors when there are unsafe conditions on the jobsite or their workers are in an unsafe place and need help. A study by Dodge Data & Analytics found that only 13% of construction companies utilized wearables as of December 2018, but 82% of those said that wearables have had a positive impact with regard to improving safety in the field.
Smart PPE includes:
Clothing with light, cooling and heating elements that respond to the body and the environment, alerting workers to dangers like gas, chemicals, heat, sound, and impact
Light-emitting safety vests for higher visibility at night or in weather conditions like rain or fog
Communication devices like helmets, ear muffs, and face masks that aid communication in loud or low-visibility environments
If your jobsite contains chemicals or toxins, then site sensors are a huge benefit. Smart sensors can be mounted throughout the job site to test air quality constantly. If toxins are at a dangerous level, the sensors alert the workers to evacuate before they are harmed.
Using smart technology such as phone apps, wearables, site sensors, and drones, construction company owners and managers can have better control over the project, construction workers can be more precise with tasks and be safer on the job to make it home to their families at the end of the day.
Work Comp Associates can help your company. Contact us to make your policy easy to manage and help you save money.