Two main demands at a workplace, on a construction site project, would probably be accuracy and speed. Safety, on the other hand, has not always been a priority, or has at least been overlooked too often. Every contractor or project manager wants their project to be done well, accurately, and according to the highest of standards, but also wants it done fast, within the given deadline. The combination of the two demands can be hazardous, and sometimes, when meeting the deadline is higher up on the list of priorities, accidents can happen.
However, new developing technology has slowly but surely helped these aspects establish middle ground and has improved the overall efficiency and safety at a workplace. A combination of manual and machine labor, for example, achieves higher levels of safety and reduces the potential safety hazards. There are new smart technologies developing constantly that can reduce the number of accidents, injuries or even deaths at a workplace.
First and foremost, the most important thing with any kind of job, but especially high-risk jobs, is proper training and education. With or without new technology, workers have to be properly instructed and trained in how to operate certain machinery, how to behave on a jobsite in general, what is and isn’t allowed, how to go about their job with minimal safety risks. When it comes to implementing new technologies, discipline is very important. Contractors, workers and all other crew members have to cooperate and take the training and instructions seriously. The important thing is to adapt and improve.
Smart Wearable Technology
Construction-site equipment has come a long way in efficiency. In a successful attempt to keep things simple, something as basic as a vest or a helmet has now been technologically upgraded and improved. These are the basic pieces of equipment that every construction worker wears so there should be no concerns when it comes to adapting to it or learning how to use it. The design and the intent are the same, only now they have different sensors and upgraded functions.
Smart vest, for example, can be used to track the well-being of a worker – their temperature, heart rate, exhaustion and their overall physical condition in order to alert to any irregularities on time. This can prevent some serious health problems, as well as injuries on account of exhaustion while, for example, operating a heavy machine or working at heights.
New smart helmets are also being developed and perfected with different sensors. They can be used for all kinds of measurements, for completing sensitive alignment tasks, or even give some necessary instructions and warn of potential safety-risks.
When it comes to sensor technologies, we are talking about the ways of surveying and monitoring the site as efficiently as possible. This can be done through drones, GPS tracking, video surveillance, and even mobile devices. What it includes is everything from securing the perimeter when it is unsupervised, at night for example, to surveying the site and gathering information on workers, different resources and equipment. The more detailed information gathered and analyzed, the better the overall quality of the end result. Many mistakes and incidents can be predicted and prevented this way.
Apps and Software
Mobile devices, tablets, many different apps for construction purposes and project management software have contributed greatly to the improvement of workplace efficiency and safety. They help with and keep track of various aspects of the project – from the workers to the materials used. They can collect and analyze data from the smart vests about the workers’ health, as well as keep track of the project’s developmental stages and results, and estimate and prevent hazardous situations. They help keep the entire process organized, safe and successful.
Using robots in the construction industry has significantly been increasing. There are more than a few advantages to using robots on jobsites, and they have contributed greatly to the overall quality of construction projects. Above all, they are more precise and accurate, they can be used to operate heavy machinery, they have a longer service life and are more durable. As opposed to people, they don’t get physically exhausted and they can do much more in much less time. Accuracy and precision result in fewer mistakes, which in turn results in fewer repairs and higher efficiency, and in the end, a lower overall cost of the project.
While many contractors are weary of new technologies, and this sector in general is not very keen on adopting them, it is, after all, a good thing. It is a step forward and a step for the better, for the well-being of the workers and for high-quality projects. It may take some time to get accustomed to it and accept it, but the fact is, after all, that the improvements and better results are not lacking. The key of achieving the highest standards of workplace safety and a quality end result is probably in the combination of human presence/manual work and technology, a blend of tradition and innovation.
Katarina Lajtman is a home improvement, construction and green technology writer and editor for Reilly Roofing and Gutters from San Antonio.