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December 21, 2017

New Study Reveals the Benefits of Using Safety Technology

A new study from Dodge Data & Analytics reveals the positive impacts of using technology on the job site. The study focuses on how these technologies can improve construction safety metrics.

The study was published in the Safety Management in the Construction Industry 2017 SmartMarket Report. United Rentals and the Center for Construction Research and Training (CPWR) also contributed to the report. You can download the full report here.

The study reveals a number of benefits that technology has on safety.

“Technology is drastically improving job site safety,” says Jim Dorris, United Rentals’ vice president of environmental health and safety. It’s “providing tangible results in protecting workers and firms alike.”

  • Nearly 70% of contractors who use building information technology (BIM) report that it has a positive impact on project safety. They use BIM to identify site hazards, conduct clash detection, and to support the creation of 3D images.
  • The study also finds that over 85% of all contractors use mobile tools like cameras, smartphones, and tablets. These tools can contribute to improvements in safety a number of ways. 42% of them use these tools for employing safety inspection checklist apps. 35% use them for safety training. And 28% of them use mobile devices to access health and safety websites.

The report notes that “making sure all those working on the project have the most up-to-date documents can have safety implications onsite. Project managers can better plan for and address safety concerns when they have greater transparency about onsite issues.”

  • Drones are another interesting piece of technology that has gained popularity recently. According to the study, 21% of contractors use drones to promote safety on site. They use features such as reality capture that allows the analysis of existing conditions.
  • Wearable devices are still not very common in the construction industry. For example, badges with coded electronic information and “smart helmets” are only used by 13% of contractors. But of those contractors, 82% report that they have a positive impact on safety.

Dorris believes that “evolving data platforms, tools, and service capabilities will deliver innovative new safety solutions.” This will result in safer projects of all types.

Most construction contractors are not utilizing technology like they could be. But that is expected to change in the near future. As the benefits of these emerging technologies are proven, more and more contractors are likely pick up on it. As awareness grows, prices will start to decrease.

Some larger firms are already using these technologies, to be sure. But a vast majority of the construction and contractor workforce is made up of small and mid-sized businesses.

The study also the financial and project benefits of investing in safety tools and technologies. It shows that investing in safety has a positive impact on project budgets, schedules, quality, and reputation. Contractors have reported an average in 5% reduction on project schedule, and 4% reduction in project costs.

According to Steve Jones, senior director of industry insights and research at Dodge Data, “Safety investments clearly pay off in measurable ways and in ways that are harder to quantify, but that still have a major impact on a contractor’s business."

For more information on this study, view the recent publication on the Dodge Data & Analytics website.