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Zero Injuries Possible If We Share Best Practices

Zero Injuries Possible If We Share Best Practices 

Farewell 1130: Last panel in BW's first home included, from left, Davis, Pfister, Massood, Grant, Anderson and Rhodes.

Farewell 1130: Last panel in BW's first home included, from left, Davis, Pfister, Massood, Grant, Anderson and Rhodes.

by ROB McMANAMY | Feb 2, 2016

Safety first? Well, yes, but it's also a topic vital enough to be last, as it was Jan. 14, when "Safe Insight" took center stage as the final evening program at BuiltWorlds' first headquarters. 

"Very fitting," said Matt Abeles, BuiltWorlds co-founder and managing director in welcoming the capacity crowd. "We know nothing is more important on your job sites, so we are thrilled to be able to bring you this panel of award-winners."

And quite a panel it was. Moderated by Dan Pfister, VP and Regional Director of Risk Control at Willis Towers Watson, the group demonstrated how new technology and heightened awareness now are combining to make project sites safer now, even in an era of unprecedented, proliferating distractions, handheld and otherwise. Key to the progress cited most is just today's enhanced ability to communicate hazards in real-time to personnel and co-workers potentially at risk. Simple benefits also derive from the way the internet has made the world smaller.

The future of safety is going to be these wearables that tell you how to do a task correctly and in a safe manner
— Peter Grant, CEO, Safesite

"Our idea is to grow internationally, to find out what it is that people are doing right all over the world and to share that with people, so they at least know what the best practices are," said panelist Cory Davis, CEO of Capital Construction Solutions, a Chicago-based tech startup with a new safety app that actually won an award from the American Society of Safety Engineers before it was even released to the public. "Everyone, everywhere has to share this kind of information; that's true knowledge transfer," he added. "We can't stagnate on how we are getting better."

Sharing what works was a common theme for the event, which was sponsored by Newforma and BE&K Building Group. Of note, the latter's CEO Grant McCullagh and President Mac Carpenter both were in attendance, leading a delegation that included representatives of new owner Pernix Group. They were all understandably proud of the design-build firm's safety record in recently delivering the massive, 1.2-million-sq-ft Boeing 787 manufacturing facility in North Charleston SC.  

"Nine million man hours over four years without a lost-time injury... that is not an accident," said Kenny Anderson, BE&K Building Group's project manager at the site. "At our peak, we had 2,500 craft workers on the site, and our daily hazard assessments and task analyses were all performed by the crafts, not safety directors," he added.

Involving the craft workers so integrally in the safety process ensured buy-in, as did daily interactive meetings, and LED signage that constantly reminded personnel of the safety goals. The Boeing mantra for the project was "Go for Zero", and they actually achieved that goal, said panelist John Rhodes, who had been Boeing's project manager at the North Charleston site. "The total cost of the safety program was less than $100,000," he noted. "Its success enabled Boeing to build an extra airplane. That's $200 million right there."  

Safety's IntuItive Future

While much discussion centered on improving traditional practices by encouraging more attentiveness and greater communication on site, others touched on more futuristic tools that would employ tools like augmented reality (AR) and big data.

"The future of safety is going to be these wearables that tell you how to do a task correctly and in a safe manner," predicted Peter Grant, CEO of Safesite, an Australia-based app provider with U.S. offices that bills itself as "the world's fastest-growing safety management software." To broaden the global utility of AR-equipped safety helmets and other wearables, Grant says, "We have to make that symbology universal across the entire industry."

Meanwhile, Farhan Massood, founder and CTO of SoloInsight, spoke of the mind-boggling data gathering capabilities behind the technology of his firm's new CloudGate jobsite portal. The company bills itself as "the future of access intelligence," but that can and will mean so many different things to different people. To emergency personnel responding to health and fire crises at a site or commercial structure, the data will be there to locate the distressed employee quickly and even provide his or her vital health measurements from the time they had last checked in. "Workers will even be able to view a menu at the gate and place an order for their lunch when they arrive," said Massood, smiling.

But even today's wildest tech is just a temporary stop on the road to possibilities even more amazing.

"I'm hearing that a lot of these wearables and other safety apps are really just placeholders, or bridge technologies, until the construction tools themselves have the technology inside of them," said Mark Barry, chief technology officer at Capital Construction Solutions.

His comment drew many nods of the head, both on our panel and among audience members. So who knows what the future hold for safety. Either way, the potential has never been greater that it will be much safer... thanks, in no small measure, to technology.

Check back soon at BW's YouTube channel for full videos of all the evening's presentations.

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