No factor has weighed heavier than COVID-19 on how companies in every industry treated their employee’s safety in 2020 and 2021. Although construction was considered an essential operation during the lockdowns of early 2020, onsite safety issues caused many jobsites to close for fear of spreading the coronavirus among workers. Remote work was hardly possible for trade and skilled workers on construction projects, although some office activities were allowed to be done from home.
Indeed, COVID-19 and new technologies developed during the pandemic are creating significant changes in how contractors manage safety, according to a new study from Dodge Data & Analytics. However, there are stark variations in how companies of different sizes are responding, with small employers lagging behind their larger peers.
Construction workers have been aware of the dangers on the job since the pyramids were being built. With technology and innovation, today’s safety gear is much better and more available than ever before. Many pieces of clothing, for example, can be made safer for use on the job and there are many pieces of fall protection and other hardware being made to make work safer.
Construction has always been a dangerous occupation. The jobsite is littered with objects, equipment, material, debris, and natural elements like mud, ice and snow that can produce injury. In the last 18 months, add COVID-19 to the jobsite’s hazards.
But the public awareness of the hazards encountered by healthcare professionals during the height of the pandemic also increased awareness of safety risks on other types of jobs. As workers return, jobsites are being examined more closely for safety omissions.
We know construction is a dangerous business. No one wants to see employees injured on the job. Companies stress safety and make many safety-related decisions on every jobsite. Government agencies get involved, both by setting standards for safety equipment and regulating their use. But even with these factors, mistakes happen, and people get hurt. Worse, people get killed.
In a world where a month seems to last for a year due to the COVID-19 restrictions and impacts, we’ve learned a lot about maintaining safe distances and limiting our options to prevent infections. It is good to remember that in construction, taking safety seriously was a rule long before coronavirus was a common word.
Even so, setting records in safety is a reason to applaud a company. Sevan Multi-Site Solutions, has had zero accidents on worksites in 10 years. Sevan is a construction and project management firm headquartered near Chicago in Downers Grove, Illinois. The company began this safety record at its inception in 2011 and, in the past decade, has logged close to 4 million labor hours with no worksite accidents. The Sevan team has refreshed more than 21,000 retail stores and 14,000 restaurants and completed more than 28,000 surveys.
Collaboration means more than meeting people. Digital collaboration means more than emailing them. A major connecting element in today’s digital collaboration is the ubiquitous cloud, computing’s collection place.
Although construction firms have been accused of being the slowest segment to computerize, that is rapidly changing as factors, such as the cloud, make going digital easier. As COVID-19 unleashed a great acceleration in digital transformation across all sectors, with so much to gain and so much at stake, the speed of transformation among construction companies during the past few months has been impressive.
Tip-overs are a real problem with heavy equipment. Safety structures, roll cages, and other attempts to give the operator a safer environment are only effective once the tipping starts. The best approach is to prevent the tipping first.
One of the procedures that can result in accidents is when the host machine must drive safely on flat ground while compacting sloping shoulders, ditches, and other hard-to-reach areas alongside the road, a task that has traditionally put road crews in danger of rollover accidents, increased workers’ comp costs and led to poor safety ratings.