Excerpt from Construction Dive

In the construction industry, the most threatening risks are the ones that go undetected for too long — design flaws that are spotted well into construction, bad habits that could get a craft worker hurt or a hazard that escapes a manager's attention.

Underlying most contractors’ safety programs is a group effort at vigilance on site to make sure workers are operating safely and are alerted to dangers before an incident takes place. Technology can add another layer to this effort by facilitating safety-related reporting and conversations or by detecting hazards in real time across multiple areas of the site, compared to a superintendent or safety manager who can only see what is before him.

But even more valuable to safety leaders, perhaps, are the platforms that can take this data and structure it in a way that allows them to understand trends on their projects and even pre-empt incidents altogether.

The fast-paced nature of construction projects tends to pull leaders’ and employees’ attention away from innovation, Shawmut CEO Les Hiscoe told Construction Dive. Projects have little tolerance for schedule, quality or budget slips, he said, and the heads-down mentality on jobsites likewise isn’t friendly to experimentation.

To warm employees up to innovating, companies should offer pilot programs as a low-risk commitment that can cushion against negative impacts on a team or budget if a tool is ineffective, said Hiscoe. They don’t break the bank compared to a broader implementation, he added, because “pilots by their nature are designed … to be quick, to be nimble and to be learned from before you make your decision to make the big investment.”

The returns are much more impactful when a company runs not one but several pilots concurrently, according to Hiscoe. “It creates that fabric that supports the whole safety culture,” he said. “With one pilot here and one pilot there, I don’t think you get a sense of the real power of a fully integrated technology platform for safety.”

Read more of Construction Dive’s “Where safety innovation fits in the heads-down construction environment” here.