Drones are transforming the way insurance companies can expedite the claim process following certain events, such as hurricanes or wildfires, through a faster assessment of potential damages.
Below, Rick Keegan, president of construction at Travelers, shares lessons learned from the flurry of natural disasters during the past few years, as well as insights on the role technology plays in making workers and equipment safer.
HOW IS TECHNOLOGY CHANGING THE SAFETY LANDSCAPE?
Not only is technology itself evolving rapidly, but so too are the number of technology companies touting a variety of ways to help contractors be more efficient and improve safety. From wearables that can send an alert when a worker falls, to exoskeletons that can help assess ergonomic risk factors, these technologies, while helpful, can be challenging for contractors to select and then ultimately implement in their everyday worksites.
We are working with Gilbane Building Company and Triax Technologies to test various wearable devices over a 20-month period to better understand how they can improve worker safety, what the possible risks may be and what businesses should consider before implementing these devices. More than 130 employees are using a device called Spot-r ClipTM, which can detect worker falls and provide supervisors with real-time notification of worker location and other safety incident details. Onsite machinery is fitted with the Spot-r EquipTagTM, which helps monitor equipment location and usage. Lastly, the site has Spot-r EvacTagsTM, which allow managers to trigger high-decibel, highly visible alarms across the jobsite to enable the fast and safe evacuation of workers during an emergency.
Other technologies beyond wearables, such as mobile apps and online programs to aid in surveying or monitoring a site, are helping contractors improve the safety of their day-to-day routines. For example, Travelers offers an online tool, ZoneCheck, to help contractors understand how the work they do might produce vibrations that could cause damage to nearby structures. Each of the different technology solutions available today has the potential to help contractors make real improvements in jobsite safety.
WHAT ARE SOME OF THE LESSONS LEARNED FROM RECENT NATURAL DISASTERS?
The last few years have shown that you can never be too prepared for disasters. This is especially true for contractors, as their livelihood often depends on the maintenance and protection of jobsites that are vulnerable to the elements. Depending on the storm or event you are anticipating, you’ll want to have plans to protect your projects from water intrusion and exposure to fire.
It’s also a good idea to develop evacuation procedures, as well as plans to secure and store equipment. Cranes in particular can be challenging to contend with in anticipation of certain events, such as hurricanes, when they need to be secured or, in some cases, dismantled. Contractors should consult with the machine manufacturers when planning for a natural disaster.
Preparing well in advance of storm season can help secure the best outcome if dangerous weather hits. Have a contingency plan for equipment, materials and employees so that you are ready to act if the time comes. It may be difficult to protect a jobsite at the last minute.
If a major storm is projected, think about what you might need to help with recovery and rebuilding, and take inventory of what you have on hand. Additional supplies and materials such as concrete or lumber could be difficult to get after a storm.
Be ready for work opportunities that will be available in locations outside of where you normally work. These locations may be unfamiliar and present your company with some unknowns, such as workforce availability, subcontractor networks and the transportation of materials. Researching and evaluating these and other risks in advance can help protect your company if you choose to pursue this work.
WHAT ARE SOME OF THE TOP INJURIES BEING REPORTED ACROSS THE CONSTRUCTION INDUSTRY, AND HOW SHOULD CONTRACTORS PROTECT AGAINST THEM?
Some of the most common injuries we see are a result of falls from heights, being struck by equipment and auto accidents. The resulting sprains and strains, broken bones and head injuries can be severe, both in terms of the injury and the cost to the employer.
According to our construction claim data, more than 40 percent of workplace injuries occur within an employee’s first year, regardless of age or industry experience. Thorough onboarding and training, complete with a demonstration of proper safety practices, hands-on guidance and supervision, can make all the difference. Due to the on-the-road exposures that exist every day, contractors should increase their focus on driver safety programs.
WHAT SHOULD CONTRACTORS BE DOING TO BETTER MANAGE RISK AND STAY SAFE IN 2019?
To help make this year a safe one, it’s important that contractors pay special attention to their fleet exposures. Given the complexity of site operations, contractors often don’t recognize the impact auto-related losses have on their total cost of risk. With an increase in miles driven, more cars on the road and the growing challenge of distracted driving, the industry continues to see a notable increase in the frequency and severity of auto accidents.
Having a robust driver screening program is a critical way to manage this risk. Implementing a specific and detailed fleet safety program that clearly spells out expectations for vehicle use and defines accountability and consequences can go a long way. But like any program, it needs to be strictly and consistently enforced. We have seen instances where contractors with very detailed fleet programs failed to enforce them and, as a result, created additional liability for their organizations.
Telematics can be an effective way to manage fleet exposures, but only if they are part of a detailed fleet management strategy with a clear understanding of how the data will be analyzed, communicated and enforced. Contractors are often viewed as “deep pocket” defendants and become primary targets in auto-related losses.
In the end, contractors are navigating environments that can be challenging, and it takes an ongoing and proactive approach to reduce exposure to risk through appropriate controls.
Original Article: https://www.constructionexec.com/article/prepare-for-a-safe-year