Home » The Side Effects of the Worker Shortage on Construction Safety

The Side Effects of the Worker Shortage on Construction Safety

Posted by Ryan Cox on Apr 27, 2023

Construction safety has always been a high priority for the industry. However, there’s a trend that’s turning safety into a crucial one for business survival. The unemployment rate of 4.6% in the industry is the second lowest on record according to a Contractor Magazine story. This isn’t necessarily good news for the industry. It means greater mobility for workers. Those with talent find better-paying opportunities elsewhere.

While low unemployment rates are typically something to cheer about, it isn’t this time. In the past, turnover rates were based on the company’s decision to let employees go. This time around, it’s the workers who leave and affect the turnover rates. Often those leaving are some of the most talented workers changing companies for a promotion, higher paying jobs, or both.

This has led to a construction worker shortage. Companies are struggling to replace departing employees. Typically, the people who fill these roles are far less experienced and don’t know as much about safety as the previous worker.

McKinsey’s research says if the construction industry wants to solve the worker shortage problem, it needs to do the following three things.

  • Do everything to maximize productivity by improving efficiency.
  • Expand the labor pool by working harder on retention.
  • Make labor a strategic priority by creating a robust talent acquisition and retention program.

These three components work together. Besides, another reason to push a retention strategy is that the talent you have already knows the company’s processes and procedures. When executives prioritize labor strategies, then it funnels down to the rest of the organization to build an effective employee acquisition and retention program.

Additionally, they need to find ways to enhance operational efficiencies to ensure they don’t overload the employees and cause burnout.

The Need to Invest in Safety Training

Many of the fatal work injuries in construction can be prevented. The National Safety Council has a chart that reveals construction has the highest number of preventable fatal work injuries at 950 for 2021 alone. The industry also had 260,000 medically consulted injuries in 2021 that could have been prevented.

Construction companies claim they have created a safety culture. The companies doing it right integrate safety into every part of the company and its business. They embed safety into the company with a holistic approach. Companies with a high safety culture do more than create processes and procedures while delivering safety training. They weave safety into every aspect of the business and make safety everyone’s responsibility.

Companies like these have workers doing equipment safety checks when they start their work and at the end of the day when they shut down. They do this every single day. Companies that have the most days without injuries have daily safety instructions.

Training is one of the best ways to cut safety and security risks. Training can be anything from daily briefs and demonstrations on how to prepare tools to modeling the right way to do tasks and attending a class. It’s important to regularly remind workers about which equipment, personal protective equipment (PPE), tools, and gear to use for specific tasks. It sounds basic, but some workers may have not been taught the proper way to do these things or have developed bad habits.

This is the time to invest in safety and other types of training. An article from SHRM shows workers value training as it references the American Upskilling Study. The study has found 71% of the participants say job training increased their job satisfaction. The article asserts that training aids with retention and attracting new workers.

While safety training is vital and mandatory, you can upskill workers’ communication skills and other soft skills that have an impact on safety. Workers are the best resource for identifying safety hazards and lapses. But they may struggle with communicating and reporting them. Communication training can improve employee relations, which leads to a more attractive culture that compels workers to stay.

Besides, 25% of construction workers participating in a Center for Construction Research and Training survey did not report a work-related injury. They may have feared backlash or being viewed as a weak employee.

Employees who work in a company where they feel like the company cares about them and creates a culture of safety are more likely to stick around. They’re also going to watch out for their colleagues. This leads to a lower risk of injuries.

All new employees should receive training especially safety training. This kind of training reviews security processes, how to spot potential security threats, what to do in multiple scenarios, and how to use security technology. Educate them on how to respond in an emergency or a natural disaster.

Training goes a long way in supporting a company’s worker acquisition and retention strategy. They can further reinforce that and add another layer of safety with security technology. The right security technology not only helps mitigate construction safety hazards but also enhances productivity.

Security That Boosts Construction Safety

The use of video surveillance with remote monitoring has surged in construction and many other industries. Part of it is due to the technology advancements. They can be integrated with security and business-critical systems. High-resolution cameras are more affordable and better at providing clear video for easier identification.

Another reason for the growth in the use of remote video surveillance is that helps with construction safety. A service that includes video cameras and remote monitoring has the ability to watch over the full construction site. All videos can be saved as recordings.

Monitoring is a key part of this technology. When no one is watching the video cameras, it could be a liability risk because it provides a false sense of security. People think someone is watching the cameras, so they feel safe and secure. This is a reactive approach to security because the system doesn’t alert anyone until after something transpires.

This is where remote monitoring consisting of human intelligence and video analytics comes in. Together, they add multiple layers of security and have the ability to help deter crime before it happens. This is a proactive security solution.

The advantage video cameras with a monitoring service have over traditional security systems is that it puts human and computer eyes on the construction site. The pairing of trained monitoring operators and video analytics highly increases the chances of catching a potential problem before anything happens.

Most security systems have only one layer of security. Video with remote monitoring has multiple layers. One layer is the security cameras. Their appearance can prevent some criminals from attempting anything. A UNC Charlotte study confirms this as more than 80% of criminals admit they look for visible security like an alarm or video surveillance before breaking in.

However, this won’t stop brazen thieves and organized crime rings. Another layer are the human and computer monitors. The trained human operators aren’t located on the site of the property they monitor. They observe the cameras from a remote location and work with video analytics.

Watching hours of videos is mind-numbing. Video analytics takes over some of the taxing parts of monitoring. Analytics contains many programmed scenarios to help it analyze videos for potential problems that humans may not see. Humans add value in that they know how to respond to each incident.

Another layer is an on-site audio speaker. If the monitoring operator catches a trespasser, they can alert them over the speaker. This acts as a deterrent. If that fails, then they contact local authorities to make a report while tracking the criminal’s movements. Sometimes they will call the point of contact at the construction company.

Humans are not perfect. They sometimes forget to follow safety protocols. That’s how video surveillance with remote monitoring adds another layer in a safety program. They add an offsite backup who can catch problems and violations. Companies have used video clips from these situations in their training.

As you research potential security partners who provide remote video surveillance, look for one with construction industry experience. They know about the unique challenges the construction industry faces. They know how to find and report safety problems.

Building a Culture of Construction Safety

The worker shortage reinforces the need to make sure every worker goes home injury-free every day. Companies can’t afford to lose one worker. That’s why it’s important to create a space where everyone feels safe to report problems and injuries. If they think a company cares, they probably won’t fear repercussions.

Developing a culture of safety requires training, processes, and technology. While these play an important role in construction safety, workers will always be the weakest link in security. An effective way to close the gap is with training. This ensures they know what they’re responsible for in creating a safe environment.

However, people make mistakes. Therefore, technology like remote video surveillance can add a layer of protection and oversight. Video surveillance with monitoring helps lower risk and liability while delivering a fast return on investment. Between purchasing the hardware and monitoring services, many Stealth Monitoring clients achieve an ROI within four months.

To learn more about construction safety technology, check out the construction security and safety best practices guide. This guide looks at the challenges facing the construction industry and provides solutions. If you’d like to know more, contact us.

Texas Private Security License Number: B14187