Using Technology to Improve Safety on Construction Sites

Smart Tech Investment a Smart Business Move

Breaking ground on a job site.

This article is republished with permission from The Real Estate Network.

By Kevin Libeg, Argo Construction Vice President – Middle Market Business Leader

For decades, the construction industry has benefited from adopting technology and innovation to help design and build safer, more resilient buildings, whether through advancements in heavy equipment or by implementing modern touches like smart thermostats and intelligent lighting.

Today, however, construction companies demand tech innovations to deliver more than amenities for comfortable and productive buildings. They rely on them to help protect workers from injuries on the job site and to create a more efficient construction project. And as new breakthroughs arrive, the construction industry can significantly enhance its worker safety approach to help reduce the frequency and severity of workplace injuries.

Even a few small claims can heavily impact insurance premiums, so taking these steps to improve worker safety serves to protect a business in the long term.

Indeed, these tech innovations in the construction industry help to save lives. From an insurer’s perspective, this heightened focus on safety makes the risk much more attractive. Simply put, when an insured’s safety program is complemented by these technologies, it will significantly reduce insurance premiums.

Room to improve

Without question, existing safety measures – high- and low-tech – have made the job site safer and more efficient for workers. Still, the industry faces some sobering statistics. According to OSHA, one in five worker deaths each year is in construction. In 2018 alone, construction workers accounted for 1,008 (about 21%) of all fatal work injuries, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The good news is that the industry is embracing smart, wearable technology to help prevent injuries, protect workers and reduce risk. Just as a smartwatch can track your health, wearables such as connected hard hats can track factors that impact construction risks.

Utilization of this technology makes the risk far more attractive to an insurer, as the likelihood of claims activity is heavily reduced from a risk management perspective. While there can be a significant cost to implement this technology, it will be minimal compared to the legal fees associated with liability lawsuits. Even a few small claims can heavily impact insurance premiums, so taking these steps to improve worker safety serves to protect a business in the long term.

Top tech for safer job sites

Construction companies have an opportunity to adopt technologies with a low barrier to entry or more sophisticated, and costly, platforms. As you’ll see, it’s not necessary to make a hefty investment to see a measurable and meaningful impact on safety. The following represent today’s leading smart technologies, and any one of them can deliver immediate benefits to your business and your employees:

  • Connected hard hats. Perhaps the job site’s most enduring visible protective gear, the humble hard hat has been upgraded. Today’s hard hats feature integrated sensors that can monitor a worker’s location, motion and temperature. This enables the hat to warn a supervisor that a worker might be lightheaded or overheated. The sensors can detect if a worker is fatigued or has fallen and trigger an emergency call to first responders. Capturing this data can help construction companies prevent instances of injury.
  • Smart clothing. In addition to connected hard hats, workers can slip on a safety vest that might look typical but is anything but ordinary. These and other types of wearables can come outfitted with a range of safety-focused tech, from biometrics and environmental sensors to GPS and location trackers to voltage detectors. When paired with a geofencing system, you can establish restricted or hazardous zones that will alert workers if they have entered those areas.
  • Augmented reality. Artificial intelligence and machine learning are already making a significant mark on construction sites and worker safety. For example, AI-powered goggles can scan and monitor job sites for safety hazards or detect whether a worker is wearing the correct personal protective equipment. What’s more, AI and machine learning can elevate your safety training program to help workers identify dangerous areas and scenarios in a low-risk setting.
  • Drones. No longer just a gadget for weekend enthusiasts, drones can be a major part of a site safety program. Using this affordable technology, you can monitor expansive job sites and use video cameras to locate any potentially dangerous areas without ever leaving the ground.

 

Simply put, when an insured’s safety program is complemented by these technologies, it will significantly reduce insurance premiums.

Argo Construction insures one of the largest general contracting firms in the country that is at the forefront of technology and safety. Their focus on safety and embrace of technology has resulted in 15 years of claims-free operations. In addition, they have paid a fraction of the insurance premiums that their competitors have. If an insured is implementing this type of technology, it is reflective of the company’s overall attitude on safety.

Embracing these emerging technologies can save lives, reduce insurance premiums, and increase employee retention and morale. There is a direct correlation between an insured’s liability claims and what they pay in insurance premiums.

Kevin Libeg has more than 10 years of experience in risk management. He is Vice President and leader of the Middle Market business within Argo Construction. They specialize in general liability and excess liability coverage on all submissions less than $25 million in sales and project costs.