Construction Industry: does the EHS system reflect the organization's performance?

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The construction industry is a hazardous and high-risk one. Traditional safety management methods are yet in use, and this sector still records a huge share of workplace injuries and deaths.


In 2017, nearly 86,000 workplace injuries were recorded in the construction industry alone, or 56.8 accidents per 1,000 employees. In the same year, 120 people died after a work injury on a construction site (figures came out at the end of November 2017 by the Occupational Health and Risk Insurance). 


While ensuring the safety of workers is essential for any company, the stakes are particularly high for those in the construction industry. Between temporary work situations, the handling of materials, the handling of hazardous substances and co-activity on construction sites, risk is everywhere!


According to the 2017 health insurance figures, manual handling is the leading cause of accidents in the construction sector with 48.5%, followed by falls from height (17.1%), hand tools (14.9%), falls on the same level (13.8%) and road risk (1.6%). 


Why are there so many risks and accidents in the construction sector? 


The type of sites, the challenges of moving around on site, scaffolding work, the complexity and the number of people involved all lead to situations where vigilance is left behind. 


The lack of EHS organization in the construction sector is also pointed out, particularly for SMEs: lack of EHS resources, use of inappropriate equipment, and lack of training in the risks associated with the profession, etc...


The implementation of an EHS management system and a possible certification is therefore an important step towards improving safety performance. It is not only a matter of protecting employees' health, but also of controlling the working environment and the risks associated with activities.


Beyond this fundamental principle, the implementation of an EHS management system aims to:


  • Identify hazards and control risks related to workers' health and safety for all their activities;
  • Promote the reduction of work injuries;
  • Reduce the impact of activities on the working environment;
  • Improve productivity
  • Have a responsible approach towards sustainable development;
  • Promote a better image of the company


However, to achieve these objectives, it is necessary to have the appropriate management tools. Today, new technologies could provide real solutions to the EHS challenges of the construction industry through the use of smartphones and digital tablets on construction sites.   


The importance of the digital transformation of the Construction Industry

Construction Industry has certainly already entered the digital era through the use of BIM design software. However, it is still far from where it could be, particularly with regard to the digitization of EHS system. Digitizing the EHS system makes it possible to ease and reduce the time required for administrative work and to reinforce safety on construction sites.


But in practice, what are the benefits of digitizing the EHS system for construction companies? 


  • Improving productivity:

In the construction industry, project delays and cost overruns are a permanent challenge. The digitization of EHS checklists within each construction project allows EHS performance to be monitored successively throughout the different phases of the overall project. This allows to assess the application of EHS rules in all sites and to avoid incidents that can slow down the progress of the work in order to ensure better productivity. 


  • Sharing information effectively: 

Digitization makes it possible to store the project's EHS data in a single space containing all the documentation dealing with planning, design, construction, operation and maintenance, allowing each of the project's stakeholders to synchronise in real time.


  • Improve field monitoring: 

Managing health and safety on construction sites can be difficult when teams are dispersed in different locations. The implementation of a digital EHS system makes it possible to streamline this management and improve collaboration between teams. 

With smartphones or tablets for example, data access becomes possible at any time, anywhere and from any device.


  • Capitalizing on past projects:

Thanks to digital tools, it is possible to store data about previous projects. Analyzing this data helps to identify recurring problems and implement the necessary measures to improve risk management and the effectiveness of future projects. This data is essential for predictive and proactive analysis. This means that you no longer have to start each new project from scratch.


It is important to underline that digital transformation represents above all a fountain of opportunities in terms of performance, effectiveness and efficiency for companies. Since the construction industry is still lagging behind in terms of digital transformation, it is important for construction companies to become aware of the solutions that digitization can offer them regarding the challenges related to the business.

Choosing a digital tool to manage your EHS system that is in line with the company's needs goes well beyond the choice of a simple tool, the implementation of a reliable digital EHS system is a major asset to improve the performance of the construction industry. 

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