Fatigue and the construction site do not mix, but unfortunately it happens more than we’d all like. Construction work long and odd hours, with many jobs beginning extremely early in the morning or late at night. Fatigue not only reduces productivity, but it’s a major safety concern, especially with regards to operating heavy machinery. According to the National Sleep Foundation (sounds like a fantastic place to work, I bet they have an amazing worktime nap schedule), yearly estimates for fatigue caused auto accidents average around 100,000, resulting in approximately 1,550 deaths, 71,000 injuries, and $12.5 billion in monetary losses.
To help reduce the risk of fatigue related incidents in the construction industry, Caterpillar has designed a safety system that monitors the facial movements of heavy equipment operators and will alert them if the system determines they are drowsy or distracted.
“Customers have talked to us for many years about what they called ‘unexplained incidents,’ where they try to understand where the safety risks were coming from or what were the root causing of several of these accidents on job sites,” said Dave Edwards, of Caterpillar Safety Services, “they got a hunch that it might have something to do with the operator's ability to drive a machine 24 hours a day and 7 days a week.”
A smart camera mounted in the dashboard of Caterpillar vehicles can watch the facial behaviors and determine if their eyes are open or not. While the system will try to wake the operator up before an accident occurs by using alarms, the program will also alert a safety operator from Caterpillar and they can review video from the smart camera to determine what happened. CAT says this operator is provided to help react to situations much faster, because workers on the job site are typically very busy.
Mistakes during demolitions happen. Sometimes contractors knock down the wrong buildings, other times the explosives used don’t knock the building over, and other demolitions are carried out with a complete lack of regard for human life. As fun as they are to perform and watch, they’re inherently dangerous and there should be a plan in place in case things go wrong.
Cranes collapse for a variety of different reasons. Some are overloaded, some catch on fire, and others succumb to high wind loads. Regardless of the reason, a falling crane can cause tons of damage and have the potential to kill on-site workers and pedestrians walking near the job site.
A recent crawler crane collapse in Northern Italy could have been much worse as the crane, carrying a large section of viaduct, crashed to the ground.
On January 1, 2017, OSHA officially put into effect a revision to workplace injury and illness reporting that requires certain employers to submit recorded information of these instances electronically. Companies were to submit all of this information from the previous year (2016) by July 1, 2017, but now that due date is in jeopardy.
According to the US Department of Labor (US DOL), the construction industry has the highest rate of current drug users (15.6%) as compared to any other industry in the United States. As the city of New York grapples with trying to reduce their alarming rate of injuries and fatalities on construction sites, the New York chapter of the Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) has proposed that lawmakers add mandatory drug and alcohol testing for construction workers to the law books, according to the New York Daily News.
I’m a firm believer that before robots start taking over construction jobs, we’ll first be working with robotics to make workers more efficient and our job sites more functional. Instead of using 3D printing robots to build an entire project, why not use them first to create intricate details and bring character back to buildings? Instead of pushing human labor out of the way, why not use robotics to enhance the abilities of our workers, to improve their health and productivity? With rise in development commercial exoskeletons, workers will soon be able to harness additional strength by just slipping on a suit.
The worst day on the job is when someone on site gets injured. The 2nd through 500th worst days are the legal battle that follows many of those injuries. Nobody expects accidents to happen, but it’s best to be adequately prepared if one does. That not only includes knowing how to react to injuries with a safety plan, but also making sure your company’s documentation is in order in case lawsuits start flying.
There’s no doubt that construction workers love a good prank and some of them get pretty creative. Our favorites in the past have included the seismic test prank, the fake bear on site prank, and the “staple in the finger” prank. Obviously, as far as messing around on the job site goes, the least dangerous as the prank is, the better.
Tracking employees instantaneously is a dream scenario for employers. It gives them tons of data to analyze to determine where money can be saved and where resources can be placed to be most efficient. The struggle is convincing the employees that tracking their every move is not going to get them in trouble or fired. There’s a balance in there somewhere and that’s the challenge facing both employers and tech companies right now.
Two of the most critical concepts of construction safety are the ability to see what you’re doing and to also be seen by others around you. Construction workers rely heavily on their employer providing lighting systems when working in low light conditions, but those systems are not always adequate.
Construction industry groups are applauding President Donald Trump’s decision to sign a measure that eliminates a rule that would allow OSHA to issue citations for recordkeeping violations up to 5 years old. The previous statute of limitations was 6 months.