- This article explores ways to utilize emerging technology for OSH management in the construction industry.
- It presents a study that identifies emerging technologies used in practice for OSH management in construction and summarizes their potential benefits in terms of mitigating workplace safety hazards in construction and impact on key performance indicators.
- The authors highlight best practice applications of these technologies for OSH management in construction.
The construction industry plays a significant role in the prosperity of the economy, reportedly contributing approximately $10 trillion to the global domestic product (GDP; Barbosa et al., 2017). In the U.S., the construction industry’s contribution reached more than $892 billion in 2020, which represented about 5% of the total U.S. GDP that year (BEA, 2020). Such a contribution is anticipated to further grow over the next few years, making the construction industry an essential contributor to the economy (Nnaji & Karakhan, 2020). This level of influence is not possible without having a healthy, productive construction workforce. The U.S. construction industry employs more than 72 million individuals with a steadily increased employment rate that is expected to continue growing over the next 10 years (BLS, 2020a). Early in 2020, it was reported that the construction industry in that year would have a monthly average of more than 350,000 job openings and 400,000 hires on a continuous basis, despite the COVID-19 global health crisis (BLS, 2020a).
The challenge is to keep the construction workforce healthy and productive, and to ensure that construction workplaces are as free of hazards as possible. The construction industry is one of the most hazardous industries and has consistently reported high fatal and nonfatal injury rates over the past 10 years. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS, 2020b), in the U.S., 1,061 workers died in the construction industry in 2019. These fatalities represent approximately 20% of the overall workplace fatalities in the U.S. that year. This means one in five worker deaths in 2019 was associated with construction operations (BLS, 2020b). One-fifth of U.S. workplace fatalities being associated with construction is an unacceptably high proportion, especially given that construction accounts for only about 5% of the overall U.S. workforce (Abdelhamid & Everett, 2000). According to the International Labor Organization, construction workers are three to four times more likely to encounter a fatal incident at work during their career than in other industries (Gürcanli & Müngen, 2013; ILO, 2020; Jin et al., 2020).