Fast Fact: An estimated 6.5 million people work at approximately 252,000 construction sites across the U.S. on any given day. According to the United States Department of Labor, the fatal injury rate for the construction industry is higher than the national average for all industries.
There’s no denying that construction is an inherently dangerous industry based on the nature of the work being performed and the often harsh and variable working conditions. In 2016, 1 in 5 deaths in private industry were in construction. Among these, the four most common causes were falls, struck by object, electric shock, and caught in-between, which are often referred to as the “fatal four.” As the fatal four account for 64 percent of deaths in the industry, eliminating these as risks in the construction industry would save, on average, 631 lives in the U.S. each year.
Training workers and educating them on the most common dangers is the best way to protect them. OSHA has created a 10-hour training course called OSHA-10 that covers the fatal four and how to avoid them. This training also educates workers on their rights to a safe workplace and to refuse unsafe working conditions. Currently, it’s mandatory in several U.S. states to ensure that all workers receive this training, but most agree that it should be mandatory across the entire country; until that happens, it is expected that other regions will put similar regulations in place.
VERIFY WORKER CERTIFICATION
While training is one part of the worker safety equation, the other challenge relates to being able to verify that all workers on a construction project are certified with the right training to perform their work safely—and, of course, that their training certification is current. Owners of construction businesses and general contractors are legally responsible for the safety of all workers on their project sites. However, with approximately 85 percent of workers on a project being employed by subcontractors, verifying training for each individual within each company is a daunting task and often cannot be done by the general contractor.
Markets like New York City have finally made the decision that something must be done to improve site safety and as of March 1st, local law 196 requires permit holders in the city to keep a daily log of the training held by each worker on a project, making OSHA-10 a minimum standard for each worker. The penalties for not following this new rule? A steep fine of $5,000 per untrained worker on site.
According to Joe Hogan, vice president of the Association of General Contractors, New York State, “Tracking and managing safety certifications in the construction industry is a challenging exercise that requires considerable time and paperwork, not to mention the complexity of working with multiple sub-contractors across different jobsites.” Given the large penalties for non-compliance, Hogan says that the new work site safety regulations which are now in place in New York City are “fueling demand for more efficient, effective, and reliable ways to ensure all safety training requirements are met.”
New technology solutions specifically designed for the construction industry are now available to help with the task of collecting and verifying worker training on all projects. For example, myComply is a free, cloud-based training application that can be used by general contractors, subcontractors, and their workers to store proof of worker training digitally to ensure the right parties can access it on multiple devices when needed for verification.
In the case of myComply, the solution couldn’t be easier to use. Workers simply establish a profile, which is used to store training certifications. Since an expiry date is captured, the solution automatically reminds the worker and their company administrator when the training needs to be done again, or simply renewed. These worker profiles are linked to a company page, which are managed by an administrator, ensuring that both the worker and the construction company they work for both have access to the training records. Administrators can also create profiles on behalf of their workers to assist in the process. Once the profiles are created and training information is added, general contractors create projects and subcontractors are assigned to the project. This shares training records for workers assigned to that project with the general contractor. General contractors can also request specific company-related documents from workers, such as proof of insurance and WMBE certificates.
Since the myComply solution combines mobile technology with a cloud-based service to centrally manage and verify safety certification and training requirements, it can be used while on jobsites—and in remote locations that may not have access to cellular service—to ensure key information is readily accessible. In addition, it is integrated with construction software platforms Procore and PlanGrid, enabling projects to be imported to reduce double-entry. For many general contractors this integration is helpful in delivering efficiencies when rolling out new projects.
The myComply solution also aligns with companies like ClickSafety, making it easy for workers to sign up for new training programs required to ensure their safety certifications are current. Further integrations with companies that provide employee background checks—such as PreSearch—add a further element of safety to jobsites be enabling general contractors to perform self-serve criminal record checks and background checks on new employees that are hired. Plus, once training and background services are complete, the certifications received are updated and displayed on the worker profile.
As safety training for construction site workers comes under increased scrutiny with rising on-the-job accident numbers, simplifying the process of tracking and managing safety certifications is critical. With general contractors under increasing pressure to meet timelines and budgets, flexible technology solutions are removing barriers and setting a new standard for the administration of safety certification and compliance.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Lee Evans is CEO and co-founder of myComply, a company that provides mobile and online technology solutions that are setting a new standard for how training certifications are managed and verified on construction sites. For additional information, visit mycomply.net.
Modern Contractor Solutions, July 2018
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