4 Ways Mobile Devices are Supporting Construction Worker Safety

Jun 14, 2022

Construction is one of the most dangerous industries out there, but mobile devices are helping companies minimize risks and improve worker safety. One survey showed that 49.1% of construction companies used mobile devices in the field for safety management in 2021, up from 45.6% in 2020. That’s notable considering that in 2020, 1,008 people died and 174,100 were injured on job sites, according to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Mobile device tools, such as cameras and messaging apps, are helpful in keeping workers safe. However, one of the most significant benefits of mobile devices is their ability to deliver robust software, from apps to building information modeling (BIM) software. An Autodesk survey showed that more than half of large general contractors (53%) used software to manage safety and inspections, and 60% viewed software as a valuable way to improve safety processes.

Today, mobile devices play a role in many safety-related measures. Here’s how they support digital workflows that increase compliance, support safety training, and drive data-driven insights that help reduce risk.

1.  Improving Compliance by Connecting Workers to Key Safety Resources

Construction projects may involve hundreds of workers, all needing to communicate and coordinate quickly and effectively. In addition to helping companies wrap up projects on time and on budget, streamlined processes can also improve safety.

Workers and safety managers need access to numerous safety resources, including step-by-step checklists and customized templates for safety workflows. You can reinforce consistency and accountability by ensuring that every team member, especially those who are newer or inexperienced, can quickly access these items. One of the biggest causes of construction incidents is a lack of knowledge or awareness. In fact, mobile devices help companies address that liability by ensuring that workers always have the necessary information to follow proper procedures.

On the management side, paper-based processes of monitoring compliance, completing inspections, and documenting incidents are time-consuming. Digital workflows can ease that burden while also making it more efficient to share information. Again, apps on mobile devices can help. For example, SafetyCulture’s iAuditor app lets safety managers conduct audits and build inspection reports, including photos, on their mobile devices.

2. Facilitating Safety Training and Best Practice Sharing

Mobile devices also streamline and reinforce safety training. For example, managers can deliver “toolbox talks” virtually, record and share in-person sessions, and track employees’ attendance at required training activities.

Through app-based collaboration tools, managers can also use mobile devices to increase communication and sharing of best practices across the job site or the company. Asking employees to share suggestions and successes helps improve safety for everyone (and, as a bonus, may help boost morale). In addition, with lack of experience being one of the biggest causes of safety incidents, device-based apps, texts, and other tools make it easier to connect seasoned and newer employees.

3. Providing Convenient Access to BIM Software

In 2021, 32.4% of construction companies used mobile devices to access BIM software, up from 27.5% in 2020.

The safety benefits that BIM software brings to construction projects start with planning and design. BIM provides critical insights into structural integrity and other potential issues, so companies can address them before problems occur. Tools that support compliance checks, scenario planning, and construction timelines also help create an orderly, well-organized environment that is more conducive to worker safety.

Once the construction phase begins, mobile access to BIM continues to improve safety by providing easy access to real-time information about risks and procedures. By facilitating better communication and collaboration among teams, BIM helps to keep teams and managers informed and projects on track. Efficient, smoothly running projects can indirectly promote a safer worksite by lowering the stress and rushing that often lead to accidents.

4. Leveraging Data to Help Reduce Risks

Finally, by supporting digital workflows, mobile devices increase companies’ visibility into their safety environments: data about incidents, patterns, and trends. That data can help companies inform decision-making, identify areas where workers may need more training, and improve processes. Devices also allow companies to collect and analyze a broader range of safety-related data, which further helps to drive proactive strategies.

Construction companies may even decide to develop, on their own or with the help of expert partners, the ability to use predictive analytics to understand factors most likely to lead to job site accidents — before they ever occur. Mobile devices can be an essential part of that process, driving the adoption of digital apps and workflows that yield valuable data and critical insights.

Remember: strict regulations around on-site mobile device usage is key 

As we’ve seen, mobile devices are playing a key role in today’s construction industry — driving efficiencies and ensuring workers are connected in real-time. However, it is critical for strict regulations to be enforced when it comes to mobile device usage on job sites because workers using these devices must do so only at the proper times to ensure safety not just for themselves, but others too.

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