The construction industry is growing steadily, and construction contractors predict continued growth in all 13 of the major construction project categories, according to The Associated General Contractors of America.
Fueling this ongoing sector expansion is revolutionary technologies that make the construction industry more productive and efficient while forever changing the landscape of site safety, risk management and insurance.
Construction Sites Connected to the Cloud
The Internet of Things (IoT) has leapt from smart speakers and thermostats to hardhats and backhoes. Construction companies can now deploy a network of data collection points at job sites combined with wearables and sensors such that project leaders proactively collect data from workers, tools, equipment and the overall environment.
Wearables in particular give workers new tools to participate in site safety. Workers can easily report a hazard, signal distress, or communicate with their supervisors. These same wearables can notify a worker of improper posture or form that might lead to injury and a potential workers’ compensation claim.
Collected data across the job site is translated into real time reporting accessed via the cloud allowing stakeholders to collaborate and manage team members, the construction project and risk proactively.
A “connected construction site” allows insurers to see what’s happening at a client worksite, and most importantly with the workforce, in a unique and predictive way. This visibility provides for more accurate assessments of risk, recommendations on level of coverage and suggestions for mitigating exposures.
Insights When Accidents Happen
Automatically logging worker activity, equipment usage, safety incidents and site conditions creates a comprehensive digital record of daily job site’s operations.
In the case of an investigation or potentially fraudulent claim, a connected construction site allows the insurer to identify factors like: who was on site and in a given area, how far someone fell and at what force, the weather conditions at the time of the incident, and who else was nearby, among others. Photos uploaded to the digital record and worker certification profiles allow managers and insurers to ensure proper training and compliance moving forward.
No more tracking down paper reports and interpreting a site supervisor’s scribbled notes. Insurers can see easily and accurately what happened on the site the day of an incident and use the information during the claims administration process.
Going High to Bring Rates Low
Technology is assessing risk even before work begins. Drones are increasingly used to inspect and gather data from previously difficult to access areas, such as high-rises under construction or roofs in need of repair.
By using drones to identify potential hazards or problems, builders deploy their workers more effectively, reducing the amount of time and energy spent by workers in high-risk situations. This results in savings to the company and a reduction in exposure to the insurer due to avoidance of unnecessary risk.
Technology continues to protect workers when deployed to work on or inspect these difficult to reach areas. Devices worn by workers detect and notify safety personnel when a fall occurs or a worker is in distress. The sooner assistance is sent, the lower the risk of additional injury and the more likely chance of a positive outcome.
Avoiding Human Labor Altogether
Semi-automated mason robots work collaboratively with humans installing 200 to 250 bricks per hour compared to a human’s capability of 250 bricks per day.
While robots add value to the construction sector by reducing redundancies, decreasing physical strain from demanding labor, increasing production speed, and improving work quality and consistency; the greater use of robots is to reduce risks to workers, especially for dangerous tasks like demolition.
An added benefit: as the use of robots becomes more common in construction, they attract young, tech-savvy employees to the industry, which currently suffers from an aging workforce.
Monitoring for Prevention and Protection
Environmental sensors that monitor temperature, humidity or dust levels are used to prevent property damage that comes from water leaks or mold growth.
It’s true that construction job sites remain hazardous environments responsible for one in five private-industry fatalities, these new technologies paint a total picture of risk for insurers and allow for proactive identification of exposures, drive necessary coverage and ultimately overall costs. Construction technology is driving critical safety and process improvements. It allows insurers to more accurately assess risk, determine liability and mitigate fraud, reduce costly claims and improve the overall bottom line.