In today’s world, we are all connected through technology. We interact with it at home, at work, and even in our downtime. Fitbits monitor our steps, heart rates and sleeping patterns. We read books on tablets and hail rides through apps on our smartphones. Our homes are “smart” with devices that automate lighting, air conditioners and give us our messages as we walk in the door.
Although many industries are also embracing a “connected” landscape, one area that has been slower to embrace this digital transformation is workplace safety. Although a connected, digital safety strategy often seems like a time-intensive endeavor, new technologies are improving site safety by offering real, measurable results in a much shorter time. In fact, the growth of “smart” personal protective equipment (PPE) means that the connectivity offered by the internet of things (IoT) and safety devices used onsite can drive stronger worker engagement. That engagement results in not only lower incident rates, but important data that allows for a greater ability to predict and, therefore, prevent safety incidents.
As construction safety programs embrace digital transformation, they will begin to use IoT to connect not only devices, but the workers themselves through devices that interact with smart PPE and other technologies like sensors. Although many workplaces have begun to implement some of these technologies, safety programs are still failing to connect the most important element—the workers themselves.
Workplace Safety: Before & After Digital Transformation
But first, let’s talk about the state of safety today. Before the introduction of connected safety strategies, addressing safety hazards in the workplace can be a time-consuming process for workers and management. Safety hazards may exist in an environment for an unknown period of time before being recognized by a worker. Once identified, a report is filed and typically sent through a chain of command before action could be taken to address it. This process also has to relayed in detail to each new hire, and reiterated at every safety meeting. In addition, there is time spent reviewing incidents that have already occurred and how they could be prevented in the future.
With digital connectivity and a data-driven safety strategy, the reporting process can occur in real time. At a connected workplace, new workers learn about the communication devices that allow them to report problems immediately, which then enables management to assess and correct situations before an incident can happen. As a result of being an important part of the safety process, workers become much more engaged and empowered, helping to promote a stronger safety culture.
The ROI of Integrated Technology
With connected safety programs that provide real-time data, savings can be seen not only in the prevention of incidents, but through critical data that is gathered and analyzed to create stronger safety protocols. When each worker is digitally connected and able to report hazards as they are noticed, problems can be reported in real time and addressed much more quickly.
Today’s connected jobsite can process data faster and formulate plans to increase safety going forward. Without a digital safety plan, data must be gathered manually, and the paperwork that’s produced must be analyzed.
Safety Across Generations
Connected safety strategies aren’t relegated to a certain demographic either. Millennials, as well as seasoned professionals, are embracing this technology as a means to affect positive change. With data-driven safety strategies and the ability to report problems in real time, workers feel a sense of ownership in not just safety strategy, but in their own safety and that of their coworkers.
No matter whether they are true “digital natives” or not, workers engaged in safety in this way typically become much more empowered to create real improvements in the workplace. Workers with the ability to easily and quickly report a problem right away, and subsequently prevent an immediate injury and/or improve the safety of a particular area, become immediately engaged. When workers are equipped with real-time communication devices as part of an overall safety strategy, response time and again to becoming part of the safety solution has been overwhelmingly enthusiastic.
Building a Safety Community
Smart equipment integrated with an IoT software platform creates a safety community, where workers are connected with their environment, safety managers and team—leveraging real-time data and communication tools through the platform.
On a connected jobsite, safety managers can spend their time addressing the problems as they are reported. Access to real-time data from digital dashboards allows them to work efficiently and focus on what’s most important: improving workplace safety now as well as in the future.