A construction safety inspector has just completed an onsite safety inspection using a smartphone. Unfortunately, the smartphone was used to take a photo of a paper card filled out by hand and pencil.
“It’s still all too common” says Aiden Dalley, product marketing manager at Viewpoint Construction Software. “It’s a misapplication of technology and a failure to use the right tool for the right job. You have these very manual processes used to complete a task and technology is only applied as an afterthought.”
It continues to be a problem in the construction industry where information is often hand-keyed from spreadsheets and paper forms, while digital images are left to languish on a USB key or in a Dropbox account.
“Information collected this way tends to get siloed,” says Dalley. “If the safety director happens to receive the information sent by all of the safety inspectors on several projects, it would require significant effort to stitch all that information together into a report. To be effective, a digital safety inspection platform needs to assign the right tool to the right job. If you’re making a safety observation and using a smart phone to capture an image that documents that observation, you need to make sure that the data and photos go somewhere accessible and in a format that can be used to draw conclusions about the information being documented.”
It’s something that the developers at Viewpoint Construction Software have thought long and hard about. The company was founded in 1976 and continues to integrate the newest technology into the platform, not because the technology is new, but because the software was designed to get the job done using the appropriate tools.
“When the mobile tools match the mobile process, you should be able to complete the entire safety inspection process using a smartphone or tablet,” says Dalley. “The form should contain all of the fields that are mandatory to complete a compliant safety inspection. The inspector should be able to access supporting documentation and if a photograph is required, they should be able to take it and job done—the photo is now automatically stored along with the inspector’s digital signature.”
However, what happens in the back office is just as important. Safety managers need to be able to analyze the data they receive in standardized format.
“You can visualize the information gathered on the Viewpoint dashboard and compare projects, job sites or even the safety performance under specific superintendents or while working with certain sub-trades,” says Dalley. “That allows you to identify trends and potentially identify safety concerns before they result in an incident.”
Real-time reporting on the Viewpoint dashboard not only provides instant access to safety reports, it also allows safety managers to recognize when information is missing.
“If a report is normally received by noon, and it doesn’t arrive, they can request that information immediately,” says Dalley. “If you’ve skipped a day or two of inspections, that data is never going to be accurately recorded.”
Ease of use is also a key driver for an effective safety module. Safety inspectors are more likely to be thorough if the effort required to do their jobs is reduced to a minimum. Once a contractor signs on with Viewpoint, all sub-contractors can use the same platform for free while working on a project.
“If a subcontractor has to pay a fee to use the contractor’s safety platform, it just adds friction to the safety inspection process,” says Dalley. “You’ve already paid the fee, so there are no roadblocks to being in compliance.”
To ensure product relevance, Viewpoint products are developed with the input of a large construction user community.
“Customers in Canada and the U.S. drive the development of the application,” says Dalley. “They vote on the features that they see as the highest priority to develop and the results of those votes have seen us reprioritize some of our newest features. “
One Viewpoint feature was driven by the type of remote work Canadian contractors often undertake.
“Your safety software needs to function even when there’s no Internet capability,” says Dalley. “If you’re working near the Arctic Circle, you need to be able to continue to log information seamlessly and then upload the moment you’re connected.”
This content is sponsored by Viewpoint Construction Software in collaboration with ConstructConnect™ Media. To learn more about Viewpoint, visit www.viewpoint.com.