Every construction company—small or large, residential or commercial—has something in common: a focus on ensuring the safety of workers.

Naturally, there are a number of different reasons for this. Chiefly, people want to be able to go home to their families at night, but another added benefit is a safer jobsite is often more productive, and thus profitable, as well.

Construction is perhaps also one of the top industries that is in need of an overhaul on its safety processes and procedures. According to OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Admin.), out of 4,693 worker fatalities in private industry in calendar year 2016, 991 or 21.1% were in construction. In that year, roughly one in five worker deaths were in construction. That is just too many.

I have been wondering a lot lately if technology—more specifically IoT (Internet of Things), AI (artificial intelligence), and machine learning—can, and will soon, lead to a safer jobsite.

My interest is piqued when I see companies coming to market with new, advanced solutions, designed specifically with the construction industry in mind. One new example comes from Guardhat, which provides worksite safety and injury prevention technology.

More specifically, the company develops wearables, infrastructure, and software platforms to create a safer jobsite. Think of it this way: the company is able to modernize a traditional piece of safety equipment by adding a sensor that can monitor a user’s location, pulse, body, temperature, and environment. In the event of a fall or other incident, an alert is sent both to the user and supervisor.

The company even claims it is able to reduce workplace injury by up to 20%, saving billions of dollars a year. Recently, the company also secured Series A funding to scale its solutions. And so it seems others see this as a big market as well.

So, can IoT technologies lead to a safer jobsite? Absolutely. Will it lead to a safer jobsite soon? That question is still up for debate. It takes some time for new, emerging technologies to proliferate the construction jobsite for a number of reasons: technology is still new and workers can be slow to adopt and adjust to new technologies.

I have had some great conversations with construction companies lately that have leveraged the IoT to improve safety, with great success. My guess is widespread adoption is still a couple years away—but I do believe construction professionals will someday work on a jobsite with connected safety equipment. It is just a matter of when.

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Laura Black
Laura Blackeditor