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According to the latest OSHA statistics on workplace safety, the construction industry remains one of the most dangerous occupational sectors, accounting for over 170,000 nonfatal injuries and representing around 25% of all worker fatalities in the US in 2020 — roughly 3 deaths per day, and the third highest fatality rate of any industry. 

The risk of injury in construction remains a serious, ongoing issue for all stakeholders, from on-site workers who directly face safety hazards, construction contractors paying costly insurance premiums, and finally customers impacted by delays accidents can cause. 

Exacerbating the problem, however, is that the industry has often lost sight of the humans at the frontlines of construction safety — the workers themselves. Occupying less visible roles in a project’s scope, workers rarely have the tools to actively manage their own safety, even though they are optimally positioned to quickly identify safety hazards cropping up in any job site. 

Construction workers need a louder voice in keeping themselves safe. Empowering them to be the eyes and ears of a robust safety program requires self-regulation, self-inspection, and an open communication channel to report and remediate safety issues. Leading digital field inspection platforms are designed to do exactly this — enhance self-regulation and self-inspection by combining easy cloud access, quick and reliable data collection, and the open circulation of critical safety information in real time. 

Here are three ways that digital field inspection platforms give workers a clear and loud voice in their own safety management, forming the backbone of a comprehensive and company-wide safety culture in which everyone is an active participant.

The power of the checklist

The humble checklist in digital field inspections holds tremendous potential to help workers improve job safety. Digital platforms like Fulcrum let you custom-build checklists specifically tailored to your unique work and safety environment for the execution and inspection of any construction task. 

Whether OSHA regulations or company policies, guidelines for workers are often broad and somewhat ambiguous, making it hard for workers to apply them to unique day-to-day tasks. Cloud-connected, easy-to-create digital checklists can be purpose-built and loaded with the most current SOPs and safety protocols so that workers and teams can follow the same step-by-step instructions that can also be adjusted on the fly as conditions change.  

Field inspection platforms do more than augment training by giving workers references such as manuals and visuals at the point of use. Safety checklists can include mandatory fields that literally can’t be skipped, and they can hide fields when they don’t apply to the situation inspectors find themselves in.  By promoting self-regulation and self-inspection through digital tools, you eliminate the guesswork that leads to complacency and mistakes. And with no frustrating distractions like lost paper checklists or unclear written or verbal direction, workers can concentrate their effort on working to quality and staying safe.

Issue reporting

As work progresses, unforeseen safety issues may be discovered that need to be quickly identified and rectified before they grow into more potentially hazardous conditions. 

Everyone on the job site — whether workers executing a task, inspectors following-up on QC, or even inexperienced employees just getting started — need the right tools to efficiently and reliably collect and report important safety hazards and incident details as they are discovered for quick remediation. 

That’s why leading inspection platforms like Fulcrum leverage the full power of digitization by incorporating QR code technology. With instant access to online issue reporting, workers can use convenient QR codes to report safety issues and violations which are then seamlessly reported to safety managers, who can help guide remediation. “See it, report it” is a maxim that many companies abide by, but digital inspections place the means to do this directly in the hands of those who “see it” most often and with better clarity. 

 

Visibility and supervision

Digital field inspection platforms lets everyone, from field teams to those back at the office, connect to the same underlying data with their devices, with near-real time updates. As checklists are completed, task or inspection progress is instantly visible to offsite supervisors. On-site workers can also instantly upload safety hazard details in the form of images, audio, or video, with all records geotagged for enriched location awareness. With this wealth of data, managers achieve a high-level visibility that leads to better supervision and more efficient workflows.

As work progresses, for example, updated SOPs or safety protocols can be quickly sent around to all team members to adjust their work, detailing exactly what task steps and safety measures should be taken to stay safe. And because digital platforms are designed to make it easy to create or edit a checklist, anyone can quickly modify directives on the spot to deal with emerging safety issues. 

Fast, seamless communication between onsite workers and remote supervisors allows teams to quickly react and adapt to specific conditions on the ground along with unparalleled visibility into how work is currently being done and how it can be improved.

Let voices ring

A robust and comprehensive safety program isn’t just about imposing rules from the top down. The best safety programs nurture and integrate a culture of best safety practices both horizontally and vertically, empowering workers to speak up with the right communication tools, without fear of retribution. When everyone has a stake in and a voice in workplace safety, workplaces become more safe.

Digital field inspections platforms like Fulcrum break down the traditional information barriers in construction so that workers actively participate in their own safety. Your people on the ground have the best and most current knowledge of the specific safety issues at a job, and digital field inspections are the most effective means to collectively amplify their voices by better training them to be more diligent and effective. 

Interested in upping your construction company’s safety efforts, reducing accidents, and even lowering your EMR? Fulcrum can help with all this and more; sign up for a free 30-day trial to give Fulcrum a test drive.

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About the author

Fulcrum is a field inspection management platform built to streamline safety and quality processes, field operations, and asset inspections, especially for mobile teams.

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