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The recent release of the widely-read annual Dodge Report on Safety Management in the Construction Industry once again underlines how training is a critical part of safety management, a position supported by findings which show that contractors are committed to offering safety training to their workers.  A more worrying aspect of the report, however, is that the frequency with which training is offered varies widely from company to company and job to job. 

That there is little standardization about how and when training is delivered is a serious issue in an industry where the efficacy of a safety program is the yardstick by which to show compliance, win business, reduce rework, ensure cost-effectiveness, work more efficiently, and, ultimately, protect its employees. This oversight raises some important questions, chief among them being how can construction contractors best identify the gaps in worker safety knowledge so they know what specific training to provide, and how frequently?

The answer is literally right before your eyes. 

Harnessing the power of consistent and reliable safety inspection data in combination with the information you are already collecting across other essential elements of your safety programs enables insight on how those program elements are actually performing and where there are safety training gaps.

Data and the essential elements of safety programs

The Dodge Report lists the top essential elements of what their readers consider to be a “world-class safety program” — non-negotiable factors that every company, regardless of size, needs to have in place if it wants to excel at safety training and reap its benefits. These elements include:

  • Regular meetings on safety with jobsite workers and supervisors
  • Frontline supervisors who practice safety leadership skills
  • Jobsite worker involvement
  • Ongoing access to safety training for all supervisors and frontline workers
  • Workers empowered to report hazards and near-miss incidents with no fear of retaliation
  • Hazard assessments and safety plans at each new jobsite 

In all likelihood, the vast majority of construction companies, regardless of size, are already collecting at least some data on most of these elements. Opportunities are often missed to more effectively use this information to connect and correlate with data from safety inspections to provide targeted insights about training requirements and frequency.


Using Safety Inspection Data Smarter

When the data derived from two complementary safety activities can continually inform each other, you make each activity more effective. For example, patterns emerging from construction safety inspections will inform how assessments are done; the conclusions drawn from these assessments will then, in turn, inform and guide safety inspection processes. Similarly, correlating topics of discussion at toolbox talks with hazard, incident, or accident reports reveals where training is working and where more is needed. 

The list goes on: site visits generate location-specific data that facilitate comparisons by jobsite, client or other variables; remediations yield valuable data regarding ROI; while incident reporting allows us to draw correlations with worker experience to tailor reskilling efforts. 

If collected consistently and reliably, safety managers can review all of their safety inspection data and draw correlations between training frequency and accidents/incidents, and then implement additional measures to help mitigate future occurrences. Safety inspection data alerts you to emerging challenges so you can target training resources with maximum effectiveness  — the ultimate goal of data-driven safety training. 

The concept of data-driven safety is still emerging in the industry. The Dodge Report found that only 19% of contractors rank making better use of safety data already collected as a top way to improve safety programs.  

How Fulcrum Adds Value

To shine more light on the advantages of data-driven safety, Dodge Report invited Fulcrum VP Jake Freivald to contribute his thoughts.  For data to be useful in driving safety and training initiatives, Freivald says, it must be structured according to these three key criteria:

  • Data must be digitized. Compared to paper and spreadsheets, digital information is more amenable to advanced analytics, incorporates multimedia such as video and audio, is less subject to input error and loss, and offers a singular source of information that everyone is always working from. Digitizing the data collection process lets you use your own data in new ways.
  • Data must be pervasive. Regardless of device or operating system, any employee doing a task on a job site should be able to access, input, and share information in a variety of formats. “This isn’t just for people with the word ‘safety’ in their job titles,” Freivald says. “You must create a culture of safety.” 
  • Data needs to be reliable. Data is only as dependable as its methods and execution for collection are consistent. For data to be taken seriously and used effectively, rigorous measures need to be in place that guarantee reliability, regardless of who is collecting when or where.

Cloud-connected and requiring no-code, Fulcrum’s Field Inspection Management platform addresses these three criteria head-on by modernizing mobile construction safety inspections. By making safety inspection data digital, pervasive, and reliable, the platform allows for information to be correlated and connected within and between data points with other program elements, unleashing the power of the data already being collected to produce the insights and metrics you need to determine, structure, and measure your safety training needs.

Download our datasheet on Modernizing mobile construction inspections for a quick preview of Fulcrum’s platform. 

Or for an in-depth look at how leading industrial contracting services provider, FM, harnessed the power of data to drive their safety programs with Fulcrum, visit this Occupational Health and Safety Magazine sponsored webinar.  ‍

Source: Safety Management in the Construction Industry 2021 from the Dodge Construction Network, in partnership with CPWR - The Center for Construction Research and Training and Newmetrix.

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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