Every year, new technology is introduced to the construction industry in hopes of improving workflows, increasing efficiency, decreasing costs, and eliminating health and safety risks. Some of these innovations are instant gamechangers, such as drones that can be used to analyze project sites from overhead without subjecting workers to harm. Of course, others are less successful.
Regardless, there’s no ignoring the fact that the marriage between construction and technological innovation has been a relatively successful one overall, especially when it comes to preventing health and safety issues on the project site. In this article, a Jacksonville construction attorney from Cotney Construction Law will discuss how technology plays an integral role in reducing work-related risks. Investing in the technologies mentioned in this article may be able to help you offset the cost of accidents, delays, and defects on the project site, but only our Jacksonville construction attorneys can safeguard you from existing legal disputes.
Will Technology Save the Construction Industry?
The demand for increasingly complex projects is on the rise, calling for more workers, equipment, and materials. Unfortunately, the labor shortage is hindering progress, making it difficult to complete projects on time and under budget. The solution? Either invest in technology that can alleviate these issues or cut corners to try and make ends meet. Our Jacksonville construction lawyers advise against choosing the latter — cutting corners will only lead to defective buildings, injured workers, and a marred reputation.
Recently, Dodge Data & Analytics published a study revealing that four out of five contractors are reasonably concerned about safety on their project sites in the wake of the labor shortage. With small teams taking on large projects with tight deadlines, there’s ample opportunity for injury in the workplace, especially considering the fact that many of these workers are taking on overtime to account for the lack of personnel. Some of these workers are being asked to perform tasks they have little to no familiarity with, increasing their chance of succumbing to injury.
Construction companies are turning to technology to bridge the gap in safety and efficiency created by the labor shortage, but they’re also using technology to attract new talent. Millennial workers, who have historically evaded jobs in construction, are now taking a vested interest in the industry as more and more technology is adopted for widespread use. While it may still be too soon to label technology as the “savior of the construction industry,” there are many innovations that can improve work and safety measures for contractors and their teams.
Drones were first utilized in military applications, but have since been adapted to commercial and private use, too. In the construction industry, drones can be used to assess project sites that pose a risk to workers. Drones can be used to perform remote inspections, which prevents workers from scaling tall heights or putting themselves in precarious situations. They can even be programmed to travel along flight paths to provide daily, weekly, or monthly inspections. The information gathered from the drone footage can then be used to spot defects, hazardous areas, and more. All in all, drones make it easy to ensure that compliance with all pertinent safety standards is maintained without putting workers in harm’s way.
Related: 6 Ways Contractors Use Drones
Project Site Access
Project sites can be large and sprawling. Keeping tabs on who should be there and who is an unwanted guest can be difficult, but it’s absolutely essential for maintaining project site safety. Furthermore, managing which parts of the project site can be accessed without putting workers at risk requires constant vigilance. For example, the last thing you want is to find out that a worker was inside a building during a demolition because you failed to limit access. When a worker is in the wrong place at the wrong time, it can lead to chemical exposure, hearing damage, or other significant injuries. This is doubly so when they aren’t wearing the proper personal protective equipment (PPE).
Fortunately, technology offers contractors a solution to this problem by helping them monitor who enters and exits the project site. It also helps them verify that individuals are authorized to be in a particular area and even gives them the ability to customize entry by setting criteria that must be satisfied before entry is green lit, such as signing a nondisclosure agreement, passing a drug test, submitting to a background check, and providing proof of license.
Another innovation that is causing buzz amongst contractors and non-contractors alike is exoskeletons. These large, metal frameworks help increase the wearer’s strength by a significant margin using motorized mechanisms that take pressure off the wearer’s body and increase load capacity. Exoskeleton designs are largely reminiscent of the human body, which makes maneuvering an exoskeleton surprisingly intuitive.
When operating an exoskeleton, objects the wearer wouldn’t normally be able to lift, such as metal beams, pipes, or debris, become movable. Depending on the weight of the object being lifted, it may feel lighter or altogether weightless. Along with preventing injuries on the project site, exoskeletons are helping mitigate injuries related to overexertion, a type of injury that costs United States employers $15 billion annually in workers’ compensation.
In the construction industry, you need to have eyes in the back of your head if you want to remain unscathed over the course of your career. Regrettably, people aren’t always experts at reading their own physical condition, which can lead to injury on the project site. To fill in the gaps, smart sensors are being used to monitor everything from temperature to noise levels and hazardous fumes. Smart sensors can help workers avoid being exposed to hazardous elements. When combined with labor management software, smart sensors identify active risks and issue real-time threat warnings to help keep workers on the same page as they traverse the project site.
It might sound too fantastic to be true, but many contractors are moving a portion of their operations off-site, opting for prefabricated building components that put fewer workers at risk and avoid environmental interference. Plus, with the ability to take information from the project site and share with off-site prefabrication providers over the course of a project, contractors can cut costs and limit the number of complex tasks required on site. Other benefits include less equipment and material usage, improved safety, and sustainability. Of course, before you incorporate prefabrication into your building methods, consult a Jacksonville construction lawyer.
When all of your attempts to prevent an emergency have failed, you need to be certain that your team is outfitted with the technology to broadcast alerts to other team members so that further calamity can be avoided. Emergency response technology allows you to set a rally point, facilitate safe check-in, and share contact information. It greatly expedites tasks like headcounts and ensures that any relevant information is reliable and accessible. Bluetooth positioning technology can even be used to identify an unresponsive or unconscious worker. When integrated with labor management technology, it can even communicate pertinent health information or other personal records that could provide insight on how to best assist the compromised worker.
Related: The Role of Technology in Recruiting
Clearly, technology will continue to play an integral role in reducing work-related risks both now and in years to come, and for good reason. Technology aims to solve many of the problems that have been holding back the construction industry for years. At Cotney Construction Law, our Jacksonville construction attorneys are keen on technology’s role in the construction industry, but we are also cognizant of the potential risks involved with adapting to change. During this transitional period, rely on a Jacksonville construction attorney to help you maintain compliance with all relevant construction-related laws so that you can avoid costly work stoppages and fines.
Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for general educational information only. This information does not constitute legal advice, is not intended to constitute legal advice, nor should it be relied upon as legal advice for your specific factual pattern or situation.