The State of Construction Safety

Blog 54 SafetyBy Brian Binke

Some construction employers prioritize productivity over safety. Although meeting deadlines is important in the construction industry, it should never come at the cost of a human life. Collapsing building materials, overhead power lines and heavy machinery are just a few of the potential dangers in commercial construction jobs that can all be avoided with the proper safety protocols.

 

Continued Safety Concerns
A majority of Americans who were surveyed and working in construction feel that company productivity outranks their safety concerns. The National Safety Council survey also included some other interesting statistics regarding construction safety. EHS today first reported on a few of the important statistics from this survey:

  • 32 percent feel management ignores an employee’s safety performance when determining promotions.
  • 62 percent say everyone is involved in solving job safety issues.
  • 63 percent of employees feel they work in areas or at stations that are ergonomically correct.
  • 48 percent of employees believe safety meetings are held less often than they should be.
  • 47 percent believe performance standards are higher for job tasks than for safety. This percentage is higher among construction industry workers, where 67 percent feel this way. 
  • 33 percent of employees working in transportation and warehousing do not agree that management has a written policy that expresses their attitude about employee safety. 

Tools to Improve Construction Safety
Fortunately, there’s a growing number of new tools and trends being introduced in an effort to improve construction safety. The use of technology, like building information modeling (BIM), is already having a positive impact on project safety. Other technologies being used to help improve industry safety include mobile tools, drones and wearable devices.

  • More than two-thirds of contractors who use BIM (69 percent) state that it has a positive impact on project safety, a 27-point increase over those who reported that in 2012.
  • More than half of those reporting that positive impact attribute it to using BIM to identify potential site hazards before construction begins, to conduct clash detection, to support prefabrication and to create 3D images.
  • Smartphone use is nearly ubiquitous onsite, and tablet use is widespread and growing. This allows for use of mobile tools like cameras to be used by 85 percent of all contractors onsite. The documentation of site condition and work progress is fundamental to many safety efforts.
  • Nearly half of contractors (42 percent) also employ safety inspection checklist apps, but use of mobile tools for safety training (35 percent) and to access safety and health websites (28 percent) is less common.
  • Almost one quarter of contractors (21 percent) use drones to promote safety onsite for functions such as reality capture that allow for digital analysis of existing conditions, and almost three quarters of them (70 percent) believe that these have a positive impact on safety.
  • While wearable devices like badges with coded electronic information and smart helmets are only being used by 13 percent of contractors currently, 82 percent of those who use them report a positive impact on safety. This suggests that as these technologies become more widely known and more affordable, their potential for improving job site safety increases.

Brian Binke is the founder and CEO of The Birmingham Group (TBG). TBG is a globally recognized executive search and consulting firm, specializing in the construction arena. Over the past 22 years, Brian has established himself as one of the construction industries most respected leaders. He has won numerous awards for his industry innovation and has been recognized as the No. 1 worldwide revenue producing manager for the largest recruitment network of more than 800 independent firms. Brian founded SC Bingham Farms in 1995. In January 1997, SC Bingham Farms acquired Management Recruiters Birmingham, established by Fred Bawulski in 1967. Fred was an early pioneer of the executive search industry, which was almost unheard of in the 60s. Today The Birmingham Group remains one of the nation’s most tenured search firms. You can reach Brian directly at bbinke@thebirmgroup.com

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