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Impact of construction labor shortages on safety

By Linda Schwefel
June 22, 2022

As recently reported in a Wall Street Journal article, the construction industry has struggled with labor shortages for some time. The retirement of many older workers is one factor. Young people’s reluctance to enter construction is another. These factors coincide with a construction boom stemming from the $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill, further exacerbating labor shortfalls.

And with fewer workers than ever willing to take these jobs (and construction contractors having to turn work down simply because of labor shortages), construction employers are getting creative: along with pay increases faster than any time in the last 40 years, the WSJ reports that some contractors offer hiring bonuses and housing allowances for new hires. As the wages and incentives increase, the construction industry can anticipate an influx of new workers: young adults just entering the workforce, career changers, and even retirees lured back into the labor pool.

It’s in the numbers

With all these new, young, returning, and older workers joining the ranks of construction workers, it’s worth noting some quick construction injury stats:

  • 60% of construction worker injuries occurred during the first year of employment; 30% of construction injuries were sustained by workers with less than six months on the job
  • For construction worker returning to work after injury, 8.65% will be reinjured within 12 months
  • Workers aged 20-24 account for 15% of the construction workforce, but 21% of the injuries
  • The death rate for 55+ years workers is 80% higher than that of construction workers under 35

Two construction workers consulting a tablet to perform a safety inspection showcasing how safety measures help with construction labor shortages

Digital field inspection platform to the rescue

The question every construction contractor must ask itself is: how can I keep them all safe? A robust safety field inspection management platform can make the difference, but not just any platform. Look below for four must-haves for any construction contractor looking to up its safety stats:

Ability to share safety standard operating procedures

Your site’s workers will face labor shortages due to the ongoing labor shortage problem. New workers won’t receive the traditional one-on-one personal training that was standard a few years ago. However, a field inspection management platform offers in-program SOPs, manuals, reference photos, and videos to ensure safe work.

Community issue reporting

With every job site, there are workers coming and going, including subcontractors, consultants, inspectors, supervisors and more. Opening issue reporting to everyone who comes on the job site helps to ensure corners aren’t cut, safety procedures are being followed, and everyone has a stake in keeping the workers safe and the project on track.

Safety inspections at scale

A big problem with worker safety is the sheer scope of the issue: it’s easy enough to keep 20 people safe on one jobsite, but increase your projects, and you’re scrambling. When your field inspection platform allows you to scale up to accommodate added workers, procedures, tasks, and sites, you’re able to identify areas for training and reinforcement and spot risks before an accident occurs.

Task-based assignment and routing

Safety managers can close the loop on field inspection management through simple task-based assignment and routing. Those in charge of safety have a single source of truth to track inspections and safety issue resolution status, driving accountability for all inspection and remediation activities.

Can your field inspection management platform do this?

If it’s done on pen-and-paper or spreadsheets, it most certainly cannot. But, if you’re using Fulcrum, all the above come standard in its SaaS-based field inspection management platform. When you can share safety SOPs with new workers in the field, give everyone on site the ability to report dangerous conditions, preserve safety procedures even when your project and workload increases, and keep on track of it all through intuitive task-based assignment and routing, you’ve got the makings of keeping all your workers safe, whether 1 day on the job or 1,000.

And if you’re one of those who aren’t using Fulcrum yet, let us tempt you to make the switch: how does a full free month to try it out, kick the tires, and take it for a test spin sound? It only takes about half an hour to:

  • Sign up for your free trial
  • Create a custom inspection process based on your checklist
  • Set up your inspection teams
  • Create team workflows
  • Optimize your field inspection operations

We’ve got what it takes to make safety woven into the fabric of your worksite culture – and all you’ve got to lose is 30 minutes. Sign up for your free trial today!