Sample Research Report

Research Report with a presentation for the Dissertation proposal topic “Use of Technologies for Health and Safety Management in Construction Industry.” 

Abstract
This report focuses on how technology is used to ensure workers’ health and safety in construction sites. It begins by giving the general principles and practices for managing the safety and health of workers on construction sites. Further, it gives examples of various technologies that have already been developed and are being used in the construction industry and gives the benefits they bring to the industry. The report further gives some of the factors that limit the use of technologies for safety and health in construction sites. It finally shares recommendations on overcoming the limitations and championing the adoption of technology and further development in the mission to see healthy and safe construction sites.

1. Introduction

The construction industry significantly contributes to the Gross Domestic Product in most industrialized and middle-income countries (Barbosa et al., 2017). It has a great economic and social impact as it employs many people. The workers in construction sites have varying activities, exposing them to different safety and health risks. Construction sites have historically faced high accidents (SÁNCHE, PELÁEZ, & ALÍS, 2017). Due to these accidents, which have dire consequences on the construction site workers, organizations, societies, and nations, occupational safety and health (OSH) have been a major concern for the involved parties in taking care of human resources. This report explores the use of technologies in ensuring health and safety management in the construction industry.

1.1 Research Question

Health and safety have been a key issue in the construction industry due to the high number of accidents on sites. The report seeks to identify the new technologies in safety and health management in construction sites and the factors limiting the adoption of such technologies.

1.3 Aim and Objectives

1.3.1 Aim

This research aims to identify the various technologies in health and safety management in the construction industry.

1.3.2 Objectives

To attain the aim of this research, the following objectives were set:

  • To explore safety and health management practices in the construction industry and the common processes.
  • To explore various technologies developed to help in safety and health management at construction sites and their benefits.
  • To identify the factors limiting the adoption of such technologies.

2. Literature Review

The Literature review included books, journal articles, and reports on the construction industry, safety and health measures, and technologies in the sector. It was found that there exist several new technologies that have been developed in the last two decades. A safety technology that helps train construction workers on how to set up and dismantle cranes was found (Li, Chan, & Skitmore, 2012). This technology uses three dimension animations to aid in training. Another identified technology is a platform that analyses building systems, points out possible points of risks, and then prompts suggestions to avoid such risks and hazards  (Zhang, Teizer, Lee, & Eastman, 2013). Lastly, a wearable safety device was also identified that is worn by the site worker. It prompts the worker whenever they are exposed to health hazards and physical risks  (Nnaji, Gambatese, & Lee, 2013). Further, the factors that limit the adoption of such technologies were identified, including the initial cost of technology, ignorance, and the focus on deliverables alone, among others.

3. Methodology

The methodology that was used was purely a literature review of studies that were done earlier on technologies that have been developed in the construction industry for health and safety. Firstly, the general reports on the contribution of the construction industry across the world were reviewed. The other reports and books on studies that were done in the last two decades on the accident rate in the construction industry, management of safety and health in the field, and the various technologies that have been developed were reviewed. Lastly, reports that detail the factors that limit the adoption of such technologies were reviewed.

4. Findings

4.1 Safety and Health Management in Construction Sites

Managing the occupational safety and health of construction workers is a major aspect of the success of such projects (Us & Antucheviciene, 2013). Construction site accidents adversely affect projects (Coble, Haupt, & Hinze, 2000). These effects range from the delayed schedule, which leads to increased costs, poor quality output, reduced employee motivation, increased insurance premiums, spoilt construction company reputation among employees and clients, etcetera (Arachchige & Ranasinghe, 2015). Construction accidents affect the company and workers and harm the host community as most of the workers are sourced locally for construction projects. Construction safety and health management are done with five hierarchical controls in order of importance and safety. They include elimination, substitution, engineering, administration, and personal protective equipment (Georgi, K, & Bruce, 2016). Eliminating possible causes of the accident is the most effective way to manage the safety and health of construction site workers. If elimination is impossible, then substitutions of the factors that pose less risk to human resources in the second effective measure; for example, substituting machines that use petroleum and emit poisonous gases can be substituted with those that use green energy and do not release dangerous gases. Engineering measures are the third in the order of safety. Machines and engineering designs would be built in such a way that they protect the workers from workplace hazards. Administration controls are meant to create awareness of the workers’ safety through briefs and pieces of training. At the same time, personal protective equipment involves wearing gear to save the workers from the risks exposed to them. However, these two last control measures are considered the least effective.

4.2  Safety and Health Technologies

In the recent past, the use of technology in construction sites to increase efficiency and reduce risks has gained momentum. The motivation for such technologies initially was to reduce cost and increase the quality of the structures built. Recently, technologies have been used for safety and health management purposes. The technologies are used to minimize or eliminate hazards in construction sites. A technology was developed to train workers on safety measures at construction sites (Li, Chan, & Skitmore, 2012). The technology shows how to erect and dismantle cranes and other construction equipment safely. It is used to train workers on safety measures and is used in administrative control. The end product of such technology is minimal or nil risks to workers in setting and removing cranes.

However, it is more important to utilize technologies that help identify possible risks and hazards at the early stages of the construction project cycle. This will be placed at the engineering controls, which are more effective than just training workers to identify risks. Some technologies have already been developed to identify possible hazards and provide solutions for managing them. For example, the work of Zhang and the team developed a platform that analyses building systems and identifies the hazards that may occur on the site (Zhang, Teizer, Lee, & Eastman, 2013). The platform then comes up with suggestions on ways to overcome such risks during real construction.

Wearable safety devices (WSD) are another technology that has gained attention in recent years in the construction industry (Nnaji, Gambatese, & Lee, 2013). These are devices that construction site workers attach to their work outfits to monitor their health, hence improving their health and reducing risks. They monitor the physical workload, fatigue, and musculoskeletal problems, help to avoid work falls and evaluate the workers’ ability to identify hazards and their mental health status.

Generally, the above-mentioned technologies are advantageous in the construction industry. They lead to long-term cost efficiency, accuracy, improved quality of the final construction output, and overall safety of the field workers (Helen, 2013). Construction companies that have adopted such technologies are sure to enjoy efficiency and improved employee satisfaction leading to overall improved performance and quality and satisfactory work delivered.

4.3  Limitations of Safety and Health Technologies in Construction Sites

Occupational safety and health (OSH) technologies in the construction industry have numerous benefits, as seen in the above section. However, such technologies face several limitations in their adoption and use. Some of these limitations are explained below.

The extra cost associated with improved technology is the limitation that hinders the adoption of such technologies (Nnaji & Karakhan, 2020).  Most construction clients do not appreciate the overall efficiency brought in by technology, and they focus more on completing the projects with the minimal cost possible. Therefore the cost of employing technology to ensure a safe and healthy working environment becomes hard.

The need for initial training for the use of technologies to achieve optimal performance may not be cost-efficient.  The workers require extensive training to utilize the available technology for their safety and the safety of their colleagues. As many construction managers are focused on the return on investment (ROI), the cost associated with the training may be omitted.

Some workers are just ignorant of the prompts given by the devices. This is common among field workers and exposes them to hazards and risks. Ignorance is a contributing factor in accidents that occur during construction (Khosravi, Rangi, & Bastani, 2014).

5 Recommendations

  • Construction managers should champion the adoption and utilization of technologies used for safety and health in construction sites. This will ensure reduced accidents and improved construction site workers’ general well-being.
  • Governments should pass policies that guide construction industry players on safety technologies for occupational safety and health. This will ensure that the clients are not left with options of avoiding such safety measures, thus exposing workers to risks.
  • Construction workers should insist on being trained on the available safety technologies and measures. They should also take the measures and the technologies with seriousness for their safety and that of their colleagues.
  • Construction engineers who develop safety and health technologies should continue improving their work based on the changes in the industry that pose new challenges and risks to the workers. This will help ensure that accidents in construction sites keep on reducing with time despite the industry’s growth.

6 Conclusion

Safety and health is a major concern for many workers worldwide. Workers who feel unsafe are likely to perform poorly.  Exposing people to a hazardous environment is a grave mistake for humanity. Every stakeholder in the construction industry worldwide must ensure that they champion the adoption of technologies meant to provide a safer working environment to construction site workers. In conclusion, technology in construction sites is the way to go as it benefits everyone in the industry due to simplified work, efficiency, and safety for all.

References

  • Arachchige, A. W., & Ranasinghe, M. (2015). Study on the impact of accidents on construction projects In the 6th International Conference on Structural Engineering and Construction Management. ICSEMCM (pp. 58-67). kANDY, sRI lANKA: University of Moratuwa.
  • Barbosa, F., Woetzel, J., Mischke, J., Ribeirinho, M. J., Sridhar, M., Parsons, M., et al. (2017, February 27). Reinventing construction through a productivity revolution. Retrieved June 10, 2020, from Mckinsey Global Institute: https://www.mckinsey.com/industries/capital-projects-and-infrastructure/our insights/reinventing-construction-through-a-productivity-revolution
  • Coble, R. J., Haupt, T. C., & Hinze, J. (2000). The Management of Construction Safety and Health. Rotterdam: A.A. Balkema.
  • Georgi, P., K, L. B., & Bruce, H. (2016). Risk assessment: A practical guide to assessing operational risks. Canada: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
  • Helen, L. (2013). Occupational Health and safety in the construction industry. Construction management and Economics. 31 (6), 505-514.
  • Khosravi, Y., Rangi, N. H., & Bastani, H. (2014). Factors Influencing Unsafe Behaviors and Accidents on Construction Sites: A Review. International Journal of Occupational Safety and Ergonomics (JOSE) 2014, Vol. 20, No. 1, 111–125.
  • Li, H., Chan, G., & Skitmore, M. (2012). Multiuser Virtual Safety Training System for Tower Crane Dismantlement. Journal of Computing in Civil Engineering, 26(5), 638-647.
  • Nnaji, C., & Karakhan, A. A. (2020). Technologies for safety and health management in construction: Current use, implementation benefits and limitations, and adoption barriers. Journal of Building Engineering, 1-36.
  • Nnaji, C., Gambatese, J. A., & Lee, H. W. (2013). Work zone intrusion: Technology to reduce injuries and fatalities. Professional Safety, 63(04), 36-41.
  • SÁNCHE, F. A., PELÁEZ, G. I., & ALÍS, J. C. (2017). Occupational safety and health in construction: a review of applications and trends. Ind Health. 2017 May; 55(3), 210–218.
  • Us, T. D., & Antucheviciene, J. (2013). Assessment of Health and safety solutions at a construction site. Journal of Civil Engineering and Management. 19 (5),, 728-737.
  • Zhang, S., Teizer, J., Lee, J.-K., & Eastman, C. M. (2013). Building information modeling (BIM) and safety: Automatic safety checking of construction models and schedules. Automation in Construction, 29 (4), 183-195.