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Use of emerging safety technologies on the rise among construction contractors, survey shows

worker using an iPad
Photo: Kuzma/iStockphoto

New York — Contractors in the construction industry are increasing their use of emerging technologies to enhance safety, and further growth is likely, results of a recent survey show.

More than 330 contractors participated in the survey, conducted by Dodge Data & Analytics in partnership with the Center for Construction Research and Training – also known as CPWR – and United Rentals. Results show that drones (21 percent), laser scanning (14 percent) and wearable devices (13 percent), such as smart helmets, are the most common emerging technologies on worksites. Still, 62 percent of respondents said they don’t use onsite technology to promote safety.

“We think it’s likely to grow as the safety benefits are demonstrated, especially as the cost of some of these technologies goes down,” Donna Laquidara-Carr, industry insights research director at Dodge Data & Analytics, said during a Jan. 30 webinar sponsored by CPWR.

Overall, 82 percent of wearable device users reported a positive impact on safety, as did 76 percent of laser scanning users and 70 percent of drone users.

“Technology is drastically improving jobsite safety, providing tangible results in protecting workers and firms alike,” James Dorris – vice president of environmental, health and safety at United Rentals – said in a press release. “Evolving data platforms, tools and service capabilities will deliver innovative new safety solutions.”

Other findings:

  • 69 percent of contractors said building information modeling had a positive impact on safety, compared with 42 percent in 2012. Eighty-two percent reported that safety professionals are involved in some facet of the BIM phase.
  • 52 percent of general contractors and 34 percent of trade contractors said they are aware of Prevention through Design methods. However, after learning the NIOSH definition of PtD – “all of the efforts to anticipate and design out hazards to workers in facilities, work methods and operations, processes, equipment, tools, products, materials, new technologies, and the organization of work” – 67 and 66 percent, respectively, believe they are practicing PtD principles.
  • 96 percent of general contractors and 70 percent of trade contractors report that site superintendents use mobile devices on worksites, while 85 percent of all contractors use mobile phone cameras onsite.
  • General contractors employ online safety training more often than trade contractors, 33 percent compared with 27 percent, respectively. Researchers expect the gap to widen in the next two years.

The study expands upon earlier studies in 2012 and 2015.

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