Can software or apps help manage health & safety on a construction site?

By Georgia Galloway | 9 May, 2022 | 4 minute read

Working on a construction site comes with many issues that managers have to overcome.

Safety should be everyone's number one priority, though it can be challenging to maintain when the speed of development schedules increases. 

Close up view of LJ Construction's contractor management software on a tablet device.

There are an array of safety concerns for health and safety in construction that need to be considered. So many that it can be overwhelming for developers, contractors and subcontracting companies, both small and large.

When working for major house builders in the UK, every effort to reduce the risk to those on site must be taken to protect the workers and the developer.

Maintaining safe standards is a challenging task, with safe systems of work not always being wholly implemented for various reasons. Those reasons might include failings on:

  • Unawareness of the developer, main contractor, contractor or subcontractor's obligations for Health and Safety
  • Risk assessments not being completed at all, not in a timely manner or in a way that's appropriate to a site, so the hazards are being missed.
  • Safe systems of work not being available, missing method statements, COSHH sheets or where they're available, they're inappropriate to the site and/or activity of the work being requested.
  • Training - where subcontractors and contractors haven't been trained, inducted or have the knowledge they require to be safe on site.
  • Incorrectly recording or documenting any of the above which could lead to any part of the H&S process failing.

As Ryan Jones, the Operations Director at LJ Construction, explains, "With so much growth in recent years, health and safety has remained our number one priority - as it should for every business, especially in the construction game.

"Whilst we always had a H&S Policy, Risk Assessments, Method Statements and Tool Box Talks, we struggled to keep on top of our record-keeping as much of the paper would be lost in contracts manager's vans or simply just went missing.

"Switching from traditional paperwork to a safety management software streamlined so many aspects of H&S in our business, and 100% eliminated this problem. We no longer were searching for various missing documents and rushing to notify subcontractors about new risks on their site or knowing 'who knew what'."

Stephen Williams, HM Chief Inspector of Construction Chair of the Health and Safety Commission's Construction Industry Advisory Committee, explains, "Every year, many construction site workers are killed or injured as a result of their work; others suffer ill health, such as musculoskeletal disorders, dermatitis or asbestosis. The hazards are not, however, restricted to those working on sites. Children and other members of the public are also killed or injured because construction activities have not been adequately controlled.

"The construction industry's performance has shown a steady long-term improvement, which I welcome. However, there is no room for complacency. We can easily believe that accidents will always happen to other people and will never touch us.

"But unless we all recognise our own vulnerability – and just how vulnerable others can be – then, as a result of the decisions we make, construction workers and their families will continue to witness the unnecessary injuries, pain and suffering that so tragically afflict the industry. In addition, accidents and ill health have a financial cost. The business case for improving performance is absolutely clear."

Thankfully, both services and software can help construction companies, small and large, better manage their health and safety obligations.

As Ryan goes on to say, "The software specialist that we partnered with solved all of these issues by helping us implement a construction-specific health & safety app solution where we can now notify our employees about hazards through SMS (text messaging), as well as having the ability to upload documentation onto a centralised management system. This allows us to report on who has read and understood every price of documentation we send out, helping to seamlessly connect our workers on the ground to the admin in the office."

Working on a housing construction site can be a dangerous and challenging task. Workers must be wary of various possible hazards, including falling debris, electrical hazards, and heavy machinery.

The safety manager is responsible for ensuring that all personnel are adequately trained on how to work safely on the site and for the given task. 

Furthermore, the safety manager of the contractor or subcontractor must continuously monitor the work site for potential hazards and ensure that all essential precautions are taken. When an incident or accident occurs, the safety manager is responsible for investigating the occurrence and taking appropriate action to prevent future mishaps.

Construction sites are constantly changing, and with various new health and safety hazards popping up daily, it can be difficult to keep subcontractors notified of the new risks. Software can be part of the solution.

Is construction safety software the solution?

Until now, it has been tough to keep on top of health and safety management in the construction industry. However, the last decade has seen many different types of construction site safety software hit the market that have been produced to make the lives of site managers and contractors easier and safer.

How do I find the right safety management software for my business?

As Ryan Jones highlighted, many solutions are available today to resolve the headache of managing health and safety on site. It is worth noting that many of these systems are geared toward major players in the UK housing construction industry, such as Barratt Homes and Taylor Wimpey, so smaller subcontracting companies can be left in the dark.

Stephen Clark, from Site Manager Pro, says, "Because most software businesses aren't trade contractors, they don't create software in a way that makes sense for contractors and subcontractors. Working on-site has shown us how special it is.

"You've got a mix of subcontractors, site managers, commercial directors, and the final client - the home builder - all with their own goals, resulting in a slew of challenges ranging from constantly changing timetables to quality management and health and safety, to name a few."

Clark continues, "When you consider that the public also inhabits those sites during phased development, the health and safety management becomes even more gruelling. My advice would be to do your due diligence into what your competitors are already using and look for smaller apps that are tailored more towards your company's needs."

Safety software can be a valuable tool in managing risks and hazards on site, but it is crucial to find the right system to suit the requirements and specifics of your company.

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