Construction workers face health and safety hazards all the time. Falling objects, loud equipment noise, electrocution, vehicle accident, airborne particles (to name a few) are all factors that can all affect workers’ health or cause injuries if not mitigated. Thankfully, construction sites are becoming safer by adopting digital solutions, such as construction project management software, remote-operated equipment, and building information modelling (BIM). But, of course, the continuous improvement of construction site safety protocols also plays a pivotal role.
Still, the construction industry remains among the most dangerous industries in Australia and worldwide due to the nature of the work involved. Recent statistics from Safe Work Australia show the construction industry ranks fifth in worker fatality. But this data is often misinterpreted. While the ranking has been invariable for years, it’s because other industries are also refining their safety management systems.
If you examine the data more closely, you’ll see how far the construction industry has come. For instance, the incident rate of occupational injuries and diseases in 2001 was 30.3 per 1000 employees. In 2020, it was at 16.3 per 1000 employees, an almost 50 per cent drop in just two decades. Much of this progress can be linked to digital technology increasing site visibility and productivity while reducing human involvement.
How to boost construction site safety with technology
Changing regulations, technology-enabled transformations, and the digitalization of construction project management are the primary drivers of advances in construction risk management. In addition, raising the bar for professional qualification with additional training certifications ensures that only skilled workers are deployed in the field, particularly for high-risk construction work.
Staying up to date with the latest construction technology is paramount in safeguarding workers from all kinds of on-site dangers. Note that digital solutions evolve according to the current demands of the construction industry; therefore, reducing worksite risks depends on a construction company’s readiness to scale up and leverage these solutions as they are introduced on the market.
Here are some tech-based site safety improvement strategies you must implement in your construction project management:
1. Integrate digital twins into your BIM software
BIM management software allows architects, engineers, and other construction professionals to collaborate in designing, constructing, and developing structures. Unlike traditional architectural plans that only show one or few design layers at a time, it consolidates all illustrations into a single model that can be accessed, inspected, and modified by authorised personnel.
Integrating digital twins into BIM software adds another layer of information—instantaneous data collected and analysed using IoT and sensors—into the model. Being able to view not just the physical features of the structure but also the day-to-day scenarios and undertakings at the construction site as the project progresses allows you to predict and analyse risks.
You can precisely identify risk factors and implement the correct preventive and control measures as mandated by workplace health and safety regulations. Also, having this data readily visible on the BIM means all project coordinators are immediately informed and can relay it to all concerned personnel for construction team safety.
2. Use a cloud-based construction project management system
Project monitoring is crucial in maintaining site safety. But it’s easy to miss hazards when only a few eyes are on the ground. You need immediate access to all reports to visualise the project’s progress, including potential bottlenecks and vulnerabilities that require immediate action. Construction management software like PlanRadar helps improve document accessibility and project coordination by allowing company files to be stored, sorted, analysed, and shared on a single platform.
When using cloud-based project management software, you can instantly access all documents, from progress reports to KPIs, without going through the time-consuming internal bureaucracy or physical paperwork. And because they are stored in the cloud, you can access them remotely and through any mobile device. You can sort tasks or issues according to their urgency and take the required actions as soon as possible, stopping accidents or setbacks in their tracks. Also, communicating instructions to managers and skilled workers is easier since PlanRadar allows you to leave remarks, comments, and notes on their submitted reports.
3. Automate workflows through AI, machine learning, and robotics
Most construction accidents involve high-risk jobs, such as those performed near energised electrical installations, refrigerant pipelines, or flammable chemical tanks. Construction companies can now reduce risks by automating tasks or carrying them out remotely. Robots are replacing human workers in high-risk areas to reduce cases of severe injuries and fatalities. However, most robots are only semi-automatic, as they still need to be operated from a control room.
Machine learning can be applied to enhance the automation of robots and computerised equipment. This technology teaches computer systems to adapt through field experience, slowly eliminating the need for human control. Artificial Intelligence (AI), on the other hand, teaches them to function smartly, not just based on patterns they learned through experience. Incorporating all three into construction work can significantly increase site safety.
4. Improve visibility, communication, and risk-response with IoT wearables
Construction task management goes hand in hand with risk management. Before deploying personnel, you must have actual means to monitor their activities, online status, vital signs, and location, as well as convey instructions during an emergency situation or more collaborative tasks. This demand has given rise to wearable smart construction clothing, suits equipped with various sensors, cameras, and communication devices to help project managers monitor personnel in real time. This is often linked to safety management software that provides prompt analyses and recommendations.
Digitalisation is no longer just a fancy add-on to construction services. Instead, it is the new standard, primarily because it helps make construction sites safer for everyone. In addition, adopting the latest digital technology improves output quality by making error-free and data-driven project management and execution possible. Construction management platforms like PlanRadar also expedite teams’ risk response action by increasing transparency and inclusion within the company’s organisational structure.
Book a free demo to find out how PlanRadar can digitise your construction processes and ready your team for bigger projects.