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Construction Industry Trends: May 2018 Roundup


Compared to other industries, construction can be pretty dangerous. This month, we’ve seen a number of stories related to safety on the jobsite, including information about silica and asbestos. Yet we’ve also seen practical insights into how construction technology can improve worker safety. Additionally, the news suggests technology will play some other key roles for contractors, both now and in the future, if they get on board with it.

Read the following stories from May’s construction news to find out what’s new, what’s changing and what’s worth your attention.

OSHA and State Safety Agencies Write More Than 100 Silica Citations in 6 Months

Crystalline silica can lead to a number of health problems, including silicosis and lung cancer. To address this hazard, OSHA enacted a new rule about silica dust on construction sites last fall. According to Building Design + Construction, the agency had issued 116 citations related to the standard by mid-April, largely for a failure to monitor silica levels. The highest fine issued was more than $9,000 (the highest possible fine is $12,934).

The takeaway: Many contractors say they’re unclear about what could lead to a citation under OSHA’s silica standard. These citations should serve as a warning that if you’re not already compliant, the time to learn about the standard is now, both for the safety of employees and the compliance of your business.

Technology-Driven Safety Revolution Making Construction Sites Safer

Speaking of jobsite safety, pointed out that construction sites pose many safety hazards like musculoskeletal injuries, slips, falls and vibrating tools and equipment. Technology is here to save the day, though, with robotics to handle repetitive or dangerous tasks, wearable devices for tracking health and safety, quieter equipment, mobile apps and more. These advances are changing the way contractors handle construction safety, and the results are promising.

The takeaway: If you haven’t started exploring new technology for jobsite safety yet, consider some of these options. A safety incident can cause serious harm to people, property and your business, so plan ahead and consider some of these new, innovative ways to protect your people.

Survey: Mayors’ Top Concerns Include Infrastructure, Climate Change, Opioids

Smart Cities Dive recently reported on the results of the Bloomberg Philanthropies 2018 American Mayors Survey, which involved mayors and city managers in 156 cities across the country. One of their top concerns? Infrastructure. Concern about roads and other infrastructure issues was second only to mayors’ concern about revenue. Residents frequently express concerns about infrastructure, too, especially in small cities. Mayors also believe infrastructure will be one of the country’s biggest problems 10 years from now.

The takeaway: It probably won’t surprise contractors that city leaders are concerned about infrastructure. The fact that this concern is so common among mayors, though, indicates we could actually see an increasing focus on it. That could lead to more infrastructure-related projects in the future, so stay tuned.

City leaders are concerned about infrastructure, particularly roads.

How Contractors Use Tech to Attract, Retain Younger Workers

Construction has lagged behind other industries in terms of technology adoption, but that trend is changing—especially as more millennials enter the workforce. Construction Dive has really highlighted the many benefits of technology this month, including better communication, increased productivity and potentially an improved bottom line. Another key benefit: It can attract new, younger workers to the industry. These workers tend to expect employers to be tech-savvy, so contractors with well-integrated technology will likely be more attractive companies to work for.

The takeaway: The labor shortage is still a real thing, and attracting skilled workers continues to be a challenge. Integrating technology into a business can help contractors work smarter and more efficiently—something that appeals to a younger workforce. Contractors that embrace technology send a message to young professionals thinking about a career in construction that their organization—and the industry as a whole—can fulfill their personal and career development needs.

Contractors Still Manually Collect Data Despite Risks, Costs

A recent survey found that 47 percent of construction managers collect project data manually rather than with digital methods. Additionally, 90 percent of those surveyed said they spend a significant amount of time trying to organize data from a variety of locations into something useful. Digital methods of data collection, on the other hand, can reduce risk, improve operations and result in cost savings. The survey found most contractors know they need reliable data, but for many, streamlined processes of obtaining that data just aren’t in place yet.

The takeaway: Are you still using spreadsheets to manage your projects? You’re not alone. But given the potential improvements digital options can bring, it’s probably time to look at some alternatives such as integrated construction software solutions.

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