Why (and How) "Build Back Better" Must Also Build Safer
Counties, communities, and companies are fighting to recover from the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. The Build Back Better program launched by President Biden aims to help the effort towards the recovery of the world at large. Through substantial investments in infrastructure and associated areas, the program looks to strengthen disaster recovery capabilities as well as improve decision-making effectiveness – so everyone can be prepared to deal with similar disasters in the future.
We believe that beyond building back better, it is also critical to build safer.
Industrial sectors require immediate safety focus.
Programs like Build Back Better aim to enable economic recovery with focused strategies and coordinated planning and incentives. But, in the short-term, sectors like construction demand immediate safety measures to better protect workers.
According to a new report from The Center for Construction Training and Research, on the job fatalities of construction workers reached a nine year high of 1,102 in 2019. BLS reports also regularly spotlight the construction sector for worker casualties.
Despite technology advancements and numerous awareness campaigns, workers continue to get injured and lose their lives on the job. Clearly, decisive, and immediate action must be taken.
In addition to investments for disaster recovery and business continuity, this is an opportunity to establish safer working environments and reduce risk in everyday operations. Organizations can improve the safety of their workforce by integrating modern technology with risk reduction measures and in so doing, revitalize the workplace environment, and build better industrial and construction sites for the future.
Connected worker solutions address worker safety.
The pandemic and other supply chain disruptions in the past year-plus have made improving business continuity strategies top of most executives’ minds. Changes instituted for safer working practices during the pandemic present an opportunity to make workplaces and sites safer while simultaneously enhancing worker productivity.
Connected worker solutions can play a huge role in addressing the safety concerns plaguing construction sites. Connected solutions have the capability to address a broad spectrum of problems, while offering customizability to satisfy specific needs or use cases.
For instance, social distancing capabilities are likely to become a global workplace norm. Proximity-linked social distancing solutions help organizations and workers comply with social-distancing guidelines, by automatically detecting proximity and warn workers if they are too close.
The same locational awareness solutions that help with social distancing can give workers a better awareness of other hazards in their immediate surroundings via sensor inputs. By providing early warnings of environmental or other hazardous conditions, connected solutions prevent injury and accidents. IoT wearables are built with a variety of sensors and can automatically detect and generate local and remote alarms warning workers of potential fall, unsafe exposure to toxic gas or noise, approaching forklifts, vehicles, or other active heavy equipment to be avoided. The sensor data can be c stored and used in analytical reports and dashboards that provide a historical view of trends and heat maps to drive systemic improvements.
Covid-19 caught too many organizations off-guard, but the mass effort to continue operations through the pandemic has given these same organizations a crash course in the tools and processes that can help in a wider array of potential challenges - from future pandemics, to supply chain shortages to everyday employee safety. Modern connected worker solutions deliver multiple mechanisms to help workers and emergency responders save valuable time during emergencies. And in addition to automated, sensor-based alarms, connected solutions offer user-initiated panic/SOS systems. Alerts can be sent immediately to nearby operators and workers, calling in support. Even when monitored from a remote location, assistance can be rapidly organized and accurately dispatched to where it is needed the most.
Proximity detection solutions also enable presence detection, providing a real-time view of workers entering specific rooms or zones, along with ingress/egress detection in specialized situations such as confined spaces for speedy support, both in terms of help getting the job done or getting the workers to safety
Additionally, modern connected solutions also help in real-time monitoring of the location and fatigue levels. Monitoring workers’ physiological conditions in real-time gives organizations time to preemptively intervene and prevent incidents and injuries. Connected solutions can also be used to detect and prevent thermal stress, exposure to severe weather conditions, unsafe proximity to hazardous equipment and material, or reminding workers to take a break after strenuous tasks.
Building back safer.
Build Back Better intends to jump-start growth and get the economic wheels turning once more. But “better” must include “safer.” Given the high rate of injuries and fatalities in the industrial and construction sectors, it is imperative we embrace modern connected solutions to build safer, and more productive worker experiences. Construction and other industries, that make, power and move the larger economy need to attract new workers, and protect the workforce they have.