Happy World Day for Health and Safety at Work!
It’s a notable international day that we rarely pay much attention to. Funny how we make a big deal about days like Valentine’s (where we’re technically “remembering” the martyrdom of two guys named Valentine who were executed by the Romans) and Halloween (which began with us honouring the “faithfully departed”), while we bypass awareness-raising days around topics that impact our everyday lives.
In the construction industry, health and safety at work can make the immediate difference between a satisfying day on the job and a serious, life-threatening injury. We all want to avoid the latter. After all, that’s why we have a day for health and safety at work. So here are three tech innovations with the potential to make a meaningful difference in terms of occupational safety for all of us in the construction industry.
1. The DEWALT MD501, a Rugged Android Smartphone
In addition to being a lifesaver in terms of saving money on phones getting broken on-site, the DEWALT MD501 offers:
- Dust protection
- The ability to be safely submerged in water (and dropped from a two-meter height)
- Five-inch Bright View Gorilla Toughened Glass
The phone also has a pre-installed lone worker protection app, which uses a GPS function to provide the worker’s exact location to a colleague or manager when activated. Additionally, a side-mounted function button can be programmed to make push-to-talk calls, allowing one-to-one or one-to-many communication during emergencies. Workers can also set an accelerometer, which triggers an alarm when the user suffers a fall. Overall, people working in harsh or precarious conditions may want to opt for the MD501 the next time they’re looking for a new mobile phone.
2. Starling Minds
Let’s be honest. Occupational health and safety isn’t just about staying in-tact physically. People across all industries need to be mindful of their mental health, and it’s high time we started discussing this in the construction industry. Being in a difficult headspace on-site can have physical consequences for construction work, whether you’re operating heavy machinery or just needing to communicate efficiently with team members to get a job done right.
Starling Minds is an online preventative mental health program that helps workers in construction and elsewhere manage stress-related issues like depression and anxiety. It allows workers to do some basic assessments and tracking around their mental health, train using evidence-based cognitive behavioral tools, and learn more about how the mind works. While it shouldn’t be a substitution for getting help from a professional in times of crisis, it can be a helpful tool to add to the mix.
3. Faber’s Online Profile of Health Considerations
Several months after we here at Faber launched our platform, we did some research into what businesses in the construction sector were doing to have health documentation ready and available in times of emergencies. Spoiler alert: not much.
In British Columbia, Canada, where Faber was founded, it’s illegal to refuse to hire a worker (or to give them less work than their peers) based on their health conditions, as long as accommodations can be made that don’t put an overwhelming burden on the employer. This means that in some cases, site managers need to know about a worker’s health conditions to accommodate them properly. At the same time, we’re all entitled to a degree of privacy around our personal health.
Some companies tried to address both of these issues by requiring workers to wear a sticker on their hard hat, which would indicate their health condition to a manager in emergency situations. Here’s the problem: it’s not just managers that can see a sticker on your hard hat. Your entire team can see it, too. At Faber, we thought there had to be a more private and effective solution. That’s why our platform allows contractors to pull up workers’ relevant health and safety information with the tap of a finger in times of emergency, without requiring workers to “out” their conditions to other team members.