Health and safety is an issue that affects every business. It’s especially important for employers with teams working in high risk environments such as the construction sector. I believe the process of getting a CSCS card and undertaking health and safety training should be fast and simple. Workers should be able to get on site quickly. This is especially important in the modern construction industry at a time when there’s been much talk about a shortage of workers in the sector.
Effective health and safety training
Health and safety training should be effective and relevant to each workplace. At Construction Helpline we offer CITB developed courses for every stage of a construction career, including training for labourers right up to site manager and business owner level. This allows employees and employers to learn the basics of site safety as well as workplace law and their obligations when it comes to duty of care. Finding a trusted training supplier is crucial as the repercussions of insufficient training can be hugely damaging.
Since legislation in this area is updated regularly, training should reflect the modern nature of the industry. This is where refresher training is important – outdated health and safety training is not enough. We are working in an era of digital transformation and progression. The construction sector is no exception, the right training for the right job is important.
Digitisation in construction safety
The construction industry has previously been slower than other sectors to adopt digital, but things are changing. While many in construction have been resistant, failure to adopt digital technology will be at the industry’s peril. It has been reported that the construction industry is second only to agriculture as the slowest sector to adopt digital. The industry needs to take a more proactive rather than reactive approach to technology. When you consider that construction employs 7% of the world’s labour force, it’s crucial it is futureproofed.
Training courses need to reflect the modern construction world. New technologies such as AI (artificial intelligence) are changing the way construction sites operate. From its usage in preventing costs overrunning to helping transform design, AI is fast shaping what the future of construction will look like. This extends to health and safety too.
For the uninitiated, artificial intelligence is where machines are used to predict better output based on set patterns and behaviour, mimicking humans but with better precision. Machine learning is a subset of artificial intelligence.
AI can play a vital role in many fields within construction. Just some of the ways AI can be used in the sector include increasing productivity, keeping jobs within budget, procurement and reducing carbon footprint. The latter is especially interesting, since AI can help us in making greener decisions and lowering pollution. This would help workers to have a healthy working environment while also reducing delays.
While clearer, more effective training courses for workers are still at the core of making sites safer, when paired with AI the results continue to offer a progressive workplace. AI can be used to assess sites and detect if workers are conducting themselves in accordance with health and safety advice. It can also be used to determine site risks. Machines can help site managers decide when safety briefings need to be held as well as giving an overall picture of what site health and safety looks like.
BIM and project management
We’ve already seen a more widespread use across the industry of BIM (Building Information Modelling) to better design and manage buildings and my prediction is that the industry will continue to build on its usage of new technologies.
While BIM is undoubtedly a useful technology for FMs, machine learning can help predict problems that may be hidden behind BIM and then surface during the build phase. AI helps in highlighting areas of concern and can help to provide a model with the least possible flaws.
There are specific areas of the construction industry that are utilising technology well, and others that are currently a work in progress. While technology is an investment, I believe it will strongly help to bring different areas of the construction and built environment industry together. With this in mind, it’s important to consider how the industry is collaborating. Better sharing of information among companies would also help raise general industry standards. Digitisation can help to facilitate this.
Better collaboration between planning teams and site workers should also increase site productivity and cost saving. This in turn should enhance health and safety. A safer and more productive business is attractive to investors and employees, helping
Industry wide standards and fraud prevention
Setting standards across any industry is important and should be reflected in health and safety procedures. CITB (Construction Industry Training Board) and CSCS (Construction Skills Certification Scheme) have helped to provide employers and site mangers with the confidence that those working on site are aware of the importance of health and safety, legislation and procedures. CSCS cards and health and safety courses have long been a part of creating a safer workplace. Digitisation could help keep industry standards consistent and prevent fraud, enabling employers to check the credentials of people they employ more easily.
What does the future look like?
Recent information released by start-up SenSat states that stakeholders in construction who aren’t going to adopt digitisation and accept that AI must become a working reality, risk their businesses disappearing within a decade. This could amount to around 40% of current employers and manufacturers combined, a staggering figure. On the plus side, this shows how much potential there is in construction for those who want to bring change with the help of technology. Predictions state that £14bn could be generated in revenue if construction was to utilise AI effectively – ignore at your peril!
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