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ASSE Construction Symposium: Leveraging Technology to Enhance Worker Safety

By their nature, construction sites are constantly in flux. That creates a paradox for OSH professionals, who must be on site to note potential hazards and stay aware of changes, but also need to retreat to an office to report findings. Traditionally it has been hard to create reports or job hazards analyses (JHAs) on site, but technology can streamline the process, according to Michael Palmer, CSP, CIH, CHMM, vice president of health and safety services at EnSafe Inc.

Palmer will discuss cost-effective technology solutions that can streamline construction safety operations at ASSE’s Construction Safety Symposium in New Orleans, LA, Nov. 12-13. He says properly applied technology can reduce time spent in offices generating reports and improve the overall quality of work.

“Nowadays with tablet technology, rather than taking a bunch of scribbled notes and some photos and going back to the office you’re able to create that out on the construction site,” Palmer says.

Additionally, well-designed programs promote consistency and immediacy in reports and JHAs. The biggest saving is time, Palmer says.

“Being able to capture right then and there improves quality,” he says. “We have found it reduces time spent 30% to 40% from what it traditionally takes to complete a document or a report for an inspection or JHA.”

Adopting technology can be tough, especially for those with decades of experience getting along with traditional methods. But Palmer is quick to note that he is one of those individuals, so he understands traditionalists leery of technology.

“I grew up with a clipboard and logbook technology, taking Polaroid photos,” he explains. “The last thing I am is a technology person—I’m a 35-year safety and health person.”

But where technology makes a difference is functionality. “If I can reduce time in my day, if I can do something quicker and do a better quality job, that’s what drives me,” Palmer says.

Palmer also notes that implementing technology need not bust a budget. “What I want to convey is that you don’t have to spend 30, 40, 50 thousand dollars,” Palmer says. “You can just take the things you’ve got and convert them.”

Learn more about Palmer’s presentation as well as the rest of the education program on the symposium website.