The construction industry is fraught with safety risks and is regarded as one of the most dangerous domains. According to OSHA statistics, one in every five worker fatalities happens in this field. The figures are daunting enough to make safety a priority for construction companies and project managers. While they may be willing to make massive investments in the recommended safety measures and precautions, these are often not enough to keep workers safe on sites.
Consequently, the domain is making a move towards smart technology solutions to double up on the current initiatives. Artificial Intelligence solutions such as virtual assistants are fast emerging as a forerunner in this field. They are empowering managers with greater control over project sites to cut down workplace hazards. Moreover, they are taking worker wellness to the next level in the pandemic era. Let us explain the immense potential of AI for making job sites safer than ever.
Greater visibility prevents unpleasant surprises
On-site safety greatly depends on visibility. Surprise mishaps such as slips and falls are significant contributors to construction fatalities. Although there is nothing managers can do to curb these risks on the job sites, greater visibility and awareness with AI-based software and solutions can help cut down these surprises to a considerable extent. Further, they provide real-time data and predictive analytics to drive timely and effective safety-related decisions.
For instance, Artificial Intelligence-supported cameras offer real-time images and videos of the site so that managers can keep track of everything, from equipment to materials and workforce. Beyond generating clips, they can gather and analyse data to get actionable insights about safety improvements. Data can be used for predicting safety incidents so that managers can take timely action and prevent them completely.
Better planning and scheduling facilitates social distancing
Right now, safety from the COVID pandemic is as big a concern for construction businesses as the ongoing hazards in the industry. All firms are mandated to follow the CDC guidelines on all project sites to ensure proper social distancing, sanitation measures and hygiene regulations. Apart from the regulatory guidelines, better planning and scheduling can go a long way in controlling the spread of the virus on construction sites. At the same time, it can play a vital role in the completion on time and within budget.
An AI-based construction virtual assistant can simplify planning and scheduling tasks by automating them. Managers need only to guide the virtual assistant once, and it will make sure that there are fewer people on the site so that they can work safely while maintaining distance. As compared to manual scheduling that may take hours and hours, it can cut down the time to minutes. Additionally, there is an assurance that the task will be done flawlessly, as the use of Artificial Intelligence minimises the chances of errors. It is also easy to tweak and adjust the schedules for managing delays and rework.
Simplify tasks even before the project starts
One of the reasons for project sites being risky is the involvement of several variables. Simplifying projects by reducing the number of processes on-site can go a long way in mitigating dangers and enhancing safety. Ideally, managers need to embrace prefabrication so that they can do as little as possible on the construction site. A combination of Artificial Intelligence and robotics can drive projects towards prefabricated construction.
With this system in place, building elements are built in a controlled factory, transported to the site and assembled there as parts of the final product. It enables tight control over several would-be hazards while ensuring the completion of the riskiest tasks with minimal chances of human injury. This immense improvement in safety is making modular construction a leading trend in the industry today.
Autonomous equipment eliminate human errors and inefficiencies
Artificial Intelligence technology is becoming an integral component of construction equipment, just as with self-driving cars. Such machinery has a range of advantages as compared to conventional equipment, such as greater efficiency and enhanced safety. It can make up for the dearth of skilled labour and reduce the probability of human errors as well.
Autonomous machines are being adopted for a range of processes including site work, grading, excavation and demolition, which have several safety risks associated with them. Since these can be handled with machines rather than human beings, there is no risk to the lives of workers.
Transparency and accountability breeds confidence
Construction safety depends greatly on the confidence and trust that workers have in managers and employers. The Artificial Intelligence-based solutions can help in this context as well. AI-supported software keeps everyone on the same page and eliminates the possibilities of misunderstandings between teams and stakeholders, communication breakdowns and lost paperwork through the entire stages of the project.
Free-flowing communication lets workers share issues and concerns so that managers can quickly resolve them before there is a major safety issue on the site. As AI software consistently tracks and analyses real-time data, stakeholders can easily identify the potential problems that can cause accidents and injuries. With this level of transparency at the workplace, managers are accountable for the safety of their teams, so they go the extra mile with the initiative.
Even as construction sites are inherently dangerous, managers and employers are obligated to go the extra mile with worker safety. It is worth the effort because not doing so can cost a fortune. Moreover, paying attention to employee safety boosts their morale and makes them more productive. Just being careful is not acceptable as a safety technique in the current scenario, when risks are greater than ever.
An investment in Artificial Intelligence technology is the best move for construction companies of any size and scale. A virtual construction assistant not only cuts down the safety risks but also reduces the workload of construction managers. So businesses end up with smarter, safer ways of doing things, no matter how large or complex the projects are.
Safety has always been one of the biggest concerns for construction businesses and not being careful enough can lead to accidents and fatalities on project sites. Artificial Intelligence technology is fast emerging as a saviour for the industry as it has a huge potential for making job sites safer than ever.
The author is a construction project manager with a renowned construction company based in the US. Apart from having rich domain experience, he also has a flair for writing and regularly shares his insights on popular blogs and online magazines.