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An Effective Approach to Safety Technology

Shaun Carvalho, Chief Safety Officer, Shawmut Design and Construction

An Effective Approach to Safety TechnologyShaun Carvalho, Chief Safety Officer, Shawmut Design and Construction

Compared to other industries, construction has been slow in its adoption of technology and digital innovations. When it comes to safety, technology is critical to achieving a proactive, preventative, and ultimately predictive program—layered on top of resources and a workforce that is actively engaged in the safety culture.

While sometimes daunting, adopting new technologies can have greater benefits and lower costs than expected. Oftentimes, rollouts enterprise-wide require a major investment. At Shawmut, we’ve employed a buy-it-and-try-it mentality—our philosophy is to maximize efficiency and automation by investing in multiple new technologies on a smaller scale. Testing these technologies on different job sites allows teams to evaluate the benefits and make informed decisions not only for immediate action but for recommending larger-scale integration.

In the hierarchy of controls, elimination is the only way to guarantee zero incidents—and the only way to reach elimination is with technology. With that in mind,

Shawmut launched a Technology Pilot Program, which will pilot eight new software/hardware safety solutions in 2021 that enhance communication, collaboration, and engagement in safety; subcontractor qualification; and advance the use of wearable technology to increase worker safety and aid in the prevention of and response to injury.

“Essential to this approach is safety champions—team members who vet, pilot, and deploy new innovations.”

With a focus on setting projects up for success before teams get on-site, subcontractor qualification and selection are paramount. Programs can track and facilitate pre-mobilization safety submittals, on-site orientation, documented credentials, meetings, observations, and incident response. Shawmut is currently piloting GoContractor, HammerTech, SafetyPlusWeb, and MyComply, and actively finding pilot sites for five additional technologies.

Advancing the use of wearable technology helps provide real-time exposures to modify behaviors at the moment, while also providing the opportunity to create controlled access zones and identify critical work barriers. We’re piloting Triax, WorkerSense, and EksoVest—and to focus on health even more—dorsaVi, which monitors for soft tissue injuries and identifies potential injury areas based on time spent in a position.

Essential to this approach is safety champions—team members who vet, pilot, and deploy new innovations. And this all is supported by a culture of continuous improvement, where people aren’t afraid to try, fail, and re-try.

This strong foundation has led to Shawmut’s current safety technology stack: ConstructSecure, Smartvid.io, and Shawmut Vitals.

Layering different innovations together get teams actively involved in safety and participating in data collection. Shawmut’s unique approach creates the least amount of change for team members while driving the biggest impact for improving safety behaviors. The Technology Pilot Program also provides an opportunity to modify existing programs and software to meet current needs and address processes to improve communication and accountability.

None of the technology matters without the confluence of data, and we collect streams from each of the different sources to analyze and create actionable takeaways, pinpointing specific issues and allocating resources. The true power of the data is found when different software and automated systems work together. For instance, one of our feedback loops is: Smartvid.io analyzes photos from ConstructSecure, Procore, StructionSite, and OxBlue, and that data is then sent through Microsoft to Power BI for analysis, resulting in a recommendation for human action.

From 2019 to 2020, Shawmut saw a 22 percent increase in engagement in safety and a 53 percent reduction in OSHA recordable incidents—proving that an integrated, multi-pronged approach to safety technology can drive results and move teams closer to prevention and prediction.

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