By Chad Hollingsworth (*)
With moving vehicles and equipment, tools, and heavy materials on site at any point in time, ensuring projects are completed safely and efficiently can be a daunting task. And as construction activity picks up, and the workforce becomes more diverse, knowing which resources are on site, generally where they’re located and being able to communicate with them from anywhere on site is only growing in importance. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, more than one-quarter of all construction workers are Hispanic or of Latino ethnicity. In an inherently hazardous environment where communication is paramount, language barriers can present a significant challenge.
In 2016, the latest year for which statistics are available, 991 construction workers were killed on the job, accounting for 21.1% of all private industry fatalities. Of those 991 fatalities, 29% involved Hispanic workers, a statistic that drives home the important work the National Hispanic Entrepreneur Organization (NHEO) Institute and others are undertaking to educate, train and support the modern construction workforce. A safer jobsite is a more successful one and ensuring that each worker returns home in the same condition as when they arrived remains a top industry priority.
This is where technology can help.
Wearable technology like the Spot-r Clip automatically detects fall events that occur on site and sends location-based notifications to site supervisors. By reducing the lag between when an incident occurs, or safety issue arises, and when personnel are notified, builders can improve injury response. What’s more, these technologies overcome potential language barriers and provide a direct line of communication to supervisors without having to leave their work area. The device’s unique push-button allows workers to report an unsafe condition, hazard, or other injury in real-time and engages them in the safety process. In an emergency situation that requires evacuation, supervisors can trigger an audible evacuation alarm to each worker’s device, which can be magnified by 100 decibel, flashing EvacTags placed around the jobsite. Upon hearing or seeing the alarm, workers can be trained to proceed to their muster point.
At the most basic level, industry stakeholders can leverage technology to develop and deliver bilingual online training programs, professional development courses, and digital communities that support their day-to-day and ensure their voices are heard. Social media also helps shine a spotlight on the industry’s unique safety challenges, connecting companies like Triax with organizations like the NHEO Institute and allowing individuals across the nation to participate in important initiatives like “Building A Safer Future.”
As “Building A Safer Future” initiative show us, worker safety bypasses all competitive barriers. Everyone is affected by safe and unsafe choices, and technology can help develop best practices that ensure everyone on site understands the risks, knows the correct procedures, and can actively respond to incidents that arise on the job. As technology increasingly connects the jobsite, it will also help connect the workers that are the heart and soul of the jobsite.
(*) Chad Hollingsworth is CEO of Triax Technologies. It's flagship Spot-r system provides real-time visibility into workers, equipment and onsite safety.
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