Say there’s a rush job that requires using a skid steer loader. The worker who volunteers to do it reaches for the wrong lever and nearly causes a serious accident. It's not until later that the foreman finds out that the worker was not actually qualified to run the machine.
Sure, the foreman should have checked first. But when he’s tried calling headquarters before, it took hours for someone to return his call. And even then, the answer wasn’t definitive. It’s hard to blame the foreman for skipping the rigmarole to meet his deadline.
Construction companies—both general contractors and subcontractors—need to make accurate worker training records immediately available to supervisors and inspectors in the field. Ensuring that only qualified employees are assigned to potentially hazardous jobs is a foundation of safety.
Besides foremen, others who need to check on worker training include safety inspectors, auditors, safety officers, training managers and headquarters administrative staff. And workers need access to their records so they know which certifications are expiring and will be able to sign up for recertification.
Technology offers a solution. Smartphones and tablets are now ubiquitous on jobsites. They can do everything laptops can do and more. Not only can they tap any database remotely (given the necessary authorization), but they also provide easy data entry and detection. That’s because they can scan images that carry data.
Two more pieces of technology must be harnessed to offer a full jobsite solution: the cloud and quick response (QR) codes.
Cloud computing offers universal access to computer networks, servers, storage, applications and services. Data in the cloud is always accessible by all authorized users. Any person or device with access to the web can get the most current data from the cloud. Because cloud sources are dispersed, any power outages or computer shutdowns at headquarters don’t affect users.
Connect Training Records to Your Phone Screen
QR codes can tie all this together. The QR code is the black-and-white square often seen in magazine advertisements and on labels. It’s a proven, inexpensive technology.
A unique QR code is generated and assigned to each employee. The code is then imprinted on the worker’s photo ID card or hardhat or a durable silicone bracelet.
QR codes can be read with the camera of any smartphone or tablet. Linking the device to the employee’s profile on the cloud, the code gives the user access to:
- Training records—Courses completed, recent recertifications, qualifications and skills, internal and external classwork, and class attendance lists
- Complementary information—Health insurance, background checks and drug tests
- Additional Information—Emergency medical information (including blood type and allergies), jobsite documentation, verification of identity, position or title, and real-time work assignments
QR codes on ID cards also solve the problem of updating training. For instance, authorized trainers can automatically record attendees who have completed courses. The trainer just scans the QR code on the badge of each employee to instantly update the training records. Alternatively, the trainer can enter the employee’s ID number.
Also, such a system can be used by foremen to track attendance at jobsite meetings like toolbox talks. It can be used by administrators to track attendance at company orientation sessions and jobsite safety briefings.
Many construction companies have already implemented jobsite credential verification via ID cards and mobile devices. They are outsourcing the job efficiently to a provider with a track record of success.