The Truth About Industry Safety That Needs To Be Talked About

Pre COVID, companies may have felt secure in their safety programs, feeling like they’ve built a solid culture of safety, and even proudly detailed their lack of incidents as proof their safety was above par in the industry.

And then an unknown rocked the industry. COVID.

During COVID, contractors were scrambling to bridge operational gaps in their safety processes that were once overlooked. When pressed with restrictions on time, distance, and real time insight, safety solution inadequacy (whether manual processes or software) quickly became apparent.

As we move past COVID, this next generation of safety programs becomes a bigger operational priority, one that reaches beyond the silo that safety once lived in and becomes the problem of all who want to keep job sites running and teams healthy and safe… how do you build in a post COVID world?

We must understand the fundamental truth about safety.

The worker is at the heart of safety. And if you can’t gather and know all the important data on each individual worker, you are at risk.

The hardest part of your safety program is the most crucial part of your safety program – the workers. And many companies are struggling with two key aspects that manage workers: enrollments and orientations.

Right now, workers are walking on and off your job sites with loads of variable data that can either a) hurt your business or b) help your business. But many companies are still relying on manual processes, so how would you know which one of the above is happening if you don’t have the ability to gather and track data like:

  • Worker demographics i.e. job title, experience?
  • Qualifications, licenses and certifications?
  • Equipment associated for pre-starts?
  • Man hours?
  • Job tasks related to the individual?
  • Language they speak?
  • Trainings/meeting attended?
  • Past performance (KPIs)?

The innate variability, inconsistency, and unpredictability of humans can challenge the best safety programs. And many companies may be still relying on manual processes to gather key information. That creates gaps in knowledge and usable data.

Why does that data matter?

Blindspots equal increased risks. If you want to truly be a safe site, you need to ultimately “see” what is happening on your job site every minute. And you need a true representation of that which can be captured, stored, and analyzed across all functional units of field and executive management.

We’ve found that the hardest element of building out a safety program is implementing trackable, traceable, storable, and reportable employee data. Online enrollments and virtual orientations are a necessity of a modern safety program and many software developers forgo that essential piece of the puzzle because it’s too hard to build, too hard to connect into field operations, and seemingly too difficult to sell because it’s fraught with fear or objections from contractors.  Any software that touches every worker on the job-site and allows them to play a vital part in the overall collaboration on a job, is always going to be more complex to develop and maintain.

Other software developers and general contractors may want to go an easier route when it comes to safety programs or systems, but we believe strongly, you just can’t extract the person from the data.

Worker data will help you build a truly remarkable safety program.

Most companies focus on the macro levels of data but don’t have the bandwidth or even the capability to gain micro insights that avert incidents, that help companies pivot quickly, or provide real time truths about their functional levels of safety on site.

Every contractor we have spoken with says that safety is the job of every person on the job site. Yes, we agree. This also means getting all the data of every worker on the job site. Which is why we believe digitizing enrollments and orientations is a necessity.

Every workflow, like permits or inspections for example, has a person at the center of it. If you ignore the person from the data and you don’t have a very good understanding of who the person is, their demographics, what documents they have cited and understood (were they part of the pre-task, signed off on JHAs?), job tasks, certifications (are they certified to complete that pre-start or scaffold check?), previous trainings/meetings, subjects learned – how can you possibly drive a safer job site without those data points?

We don’t believe you can.

It’s a big task. But we need to get there.

Moving enrollments and orientations online is a difficult but necessary next step for construction companies.

You need to be able to deal with the complexities of every worker, background, languages, literacy, devices, different situations – like employees moving companies (how do you track that worker data from job to job?).

But when you tackle that big step (using the right software), you can then start with the workers and associate those workers to workflows and create fully integrated audit records of all activities.

You begin to be able to start combining worker profiles with meetings, equipment, inspections, permits, incidents, bookings, daily reports (like worker hours), a JHA document. You begin to build a profile, a history of what every worker does on a job site and the locations they worked, giving your company 360-degree insights that help drive safer business decisions.

If the whole purpose of a safety program, it’s ultimate goal, is to create a safer job site, how do you make a safer job site without understanding the people that are on the job site and everything that they are a part of?