XL Industrial Services, Inc. credits one thing to its recent big safety award victory.
At a construction site in Waukesha, Wisconsin, in September, security camera footage shows a man in a hooded sweatshirt and jeans calmly walking up to a Bobcat steer-sled, entering the vehicle and starting the engine. After maneuvering the equipment onto a tractor-trailer, owner and landscaper Mark Hoppe was now about $30,000 poorer, according to local news station WISN. While police claimed they had a suspect in mind, the ordeal had turned into "an insurance nightmare" for Hoppe, who had taken precautions to protect the equipment, such as setting up cameras and fencing.
A recent feature story from the New York Times went in-depth on the safety and health strugglesof New York City's construction industry, which has wide implications for construction workers around the country. In "Safety Lapses and Deaths Amid a Building Boom in New York," reporter David Chen details disturbingly similar trends in incident reports and lawsuits involving construction deaths in the city for the past two years. In diving deeper into these official statements, with the help of hundreds of interviews, Chen found a persistent culture of safety ignorance among industry leaders.
"Time and again, in thousands of pages of safety reports, handwritten notes, crude drawings, lawsuits and other documents, as well as interviews with the workers' relatives and friends, the same issues emerged," Chen wrote. "In many of the projects, a premium was placed on speed, causing workers to take dangerous shortcuts."
One of the latest annual reports from the Bureau of Labor Statistics has troubling news for the construction industry. In the latest installment of the report on "Nonfatal Occupational Injuries and Illnesses Requiring Days Away from Work," the BLS found that construction laborers were among the top 10 occupations for the highest injury and illness rates. This provides specific and unquestionable data that demonstrates how important construction safety systems are on the job..
Concern for the environment is becoming more widespread among the general population, and as this trend continues to grow, so does consumer demand for buildings that reflect these values. According to a preliminary report compiled by Dodge Data & Analytics, demand for energy-efficient, environmentally conscious buildings has doubled every three years since 2008. Some of the highest growth rates have been seen in emerging economies, meaning that green buildings have contributed a significant amount to the overall global economic recovery.
With these trends in mind, developers and builders are bracing for even greater demand among consumers for environmentally conscious homes and buildings. The challenge lies not only in keeping pace, but with meeting the constantly changing expectations and engineering considerations such projects entail. Technology will also play as much of a role in building these structures as it will in helping them meet energy efficiency standards. Construction firms who can effectively leverage construction safety systems, among other new innovations, will see even greater rewards from this rapidly growing market.
Some of the most dangerous jobs on a construction site are those which seem the most innocuous. The way in which equipment is used and having the right construction safety systems in place on site can have a major impact on the safety of everyone.
If recent trends are any indication, wearable technology is the next frontier in consumer electronics. According to a report from Insurance Journal, it may also represent the newest waveof construction technology. Insurance conglomerate American International Group recently announced an investment in Human Condition Safety, which aims to begin providing wearable devices for use in many industries, including construction. Industry insiders predict that this could be just the first step in a wave of innovation that will sweep the construction landscape in a few short years, leading to better tracking of worker health and safety, and more innovative avenues for construction safety systems technology.
By most accounts, 2015 was a busy year for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration after it approved the passage of several key pieces of legislation. These changes included the first penalty increase in decades and new rules on working in confined spaces, among several others. With the start of the new year, industry experts are anticipating even more changes on the horizon as the administration continues to strive toward a safer workplace for employees in any industry, including construction.