Use data to safeguard the productivity & health of your workers & equipment
by Frank Schneider
December 12, 2018

According to Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) statistics, 21 percent of all worker fatalities in 2016 took place in the construction industry—a statistic that must be improved. However, improving safety records has more than the obvious benefits to human safety. Your company’s safety record is also a concern when applying for new contracts. Clients prefer to work with construction companies that have a safety plan in place and maintain a good safety record. With this in mind, it’s wise to include assets and equipment in your safety plan, and investing in telematics is a calculable way to do so. When your company’s equipment assets are active on the jobsite, telematics data can help you monitor and react to potentially unsafe situations.

Gain Equipment Visibility

Heavy equipment tracking is a primary benefit of implementing telematics. The telematics solution dashboard can include moving assets, as well as stationary equipment, helping you manage proper utilization.

Consider a situation where a light tower is placed, either remotely or in a highly visible location, to keep the jobsite well lit. You can set alerts for specified hours of operation to ensure the light tower operates at the necessary time and does not go out at the wrong time, leaving workers in the dark.

For theft protection, the notifications also let you know if the piece of equipment is moved or if the engine is turned on when it shouldn’t be. Monitoring equipment location helps manage traffic on a busy jobsite as well by allowing visibility into congested areas and equipment pieces that are operating too close to one another. When you have an immediate view of these situations, you can respond and communicate with the project manager, foreman and equipment operators instantly, potentially preventing an accident altogether.

Create Boundaries & Alerts

Asset telematics can do more than report the current location of an asset. Setting up virtual boundaries or geofences allows for immediate identification of equipment moving into or out of an approved location through alerts that notify you when an asset enters or exits one of these zones. Controlling heavy-traffic areas on the jobsite in this manner offers several benefits.

First, you can set up a boundary around heavy pedestrian areas to send an alert when equipment moves into that space. Similarly, certain areas of the construction site may be unsafe for some equipment to operate in due to weight or stability issues.

Notifications could prevent an asset from getting stuck or turning over in unsafe working conditions, such as wetlands or open roadways.

Improve Operator Behavior

Improving jobsite safety requires ensuring that operators are trained on their equipment and encouraging the proper utilization of equipment. The information telematics solutions gather can tell your team a lot about how your equipment is being operated, guiding your training initiatives.

For example: Is the operator resorting to abrupt hydraulic usage or equipment movements? Is there excess idling or ignition turning? You can review and discuss these incidents and habits during regular safety training and upon occurrence. Some companies create incentive programs to reward the operator and/or team that has the best safety record or achieves a specified number of days without an accident.

What if an accident occurs despite all your best efforts to prevent one? The record of equipment location, movement, use and maintenance alerts can help you conclude where safety guidelines were not followed or where processes could be improved. The data may also assist with clarifying who or what is at fault.

Maintain Equipment

Properly maintained equipment is safer to operate and less likely to break down. Equipment malfunctions in the field present a safety concern, as damaged assets could injure the operator or other crew members. Even breakdowns on pieces of equipment with no known safety issues slow down project productivity.

A primary function of any telematics system is to log equipment-utilization data. Construction managers can use engine hour data to proactively schedule routine maintenance, keeping a project on track by allowing you to move equipment around or to change the punch list accordingly. Timely information like fuel, hydraulics, oil pressure and temperature levels can help to identify equipment that is in danger of malfunctioning and should be inspected or repaired. A telematics solution also provides information on active diagnostic trouble codes (DTCs) so that you can quickly repair the issue as needed.

The data provided by your telematics solution is a valuable part of any safety plan. An accident is bound to happen at some point, but you can take steps to minimize its severity. Having solid safety practices in place, paired with the technology to carry them out effectively, means you will be prepared when one inevitably arises.